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Factory Official Grand Opening Set for Wednesday

The 16,000-square-foot "maker space" is fully staffed, outfitted, and powered up for operations.

Tour The Factory makerspace with co-owner Tom Marchetty. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.
Tour The Factory makerspace with co-owner Tom Marchetty. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.
The Factory is a meeting place of the material and the ineffable; a warehouse of equipment that feels like it's brimming with unseen possibility.

Although it's taken 14 months of hard work, some of those ideas are starting to feel a little more concrete.

When the space opens this Wednesday, it will provide a first-hand look into the myriad opportunities "for people who want to learn everything that we’ve been building up to," said co-owner Tom Marchetty. 

"I’ve got butterflies in my stomach a little bit," says the 35-year-old father of two. 

Marchetty and his cohorts speak in equally precise terms about the operation of milling machines and wood lathes that as they do about building a community of creative enterprise.

"It's all about creativity," said shop steward Julianne Cole. "The space sort of provides the community to help you get to the point where you're trying to go."

Woodworker Charles Kirkpatrick, a retired high school shop teacher who will offer some instruction at The Factory, speaks about the need for people to become more closely acquainted with the materials that make up the products they buy.

"People are beginning to feel dependent on everyone else to do everything for them," Kirkpatrick said. "There's a certain amount of independence and creativity that's involved in a space like this."

Even Marchetty admits he's learning as he goes.

"There’s no book on how to do this," the Haddon Township native said.

Throwing the switch

The biggest hurdle to the formal opening of the facility was its three-phase power system, a feat of re-engineering that required months of permitting and phone calls to bring online.

Thanks to an antiquated subdivision of the property, its electrical box was located not in the workspace, but in the basement of Michael Bruce Florist next door, to which Marchetty recalls frequent trips.

All that juice was necessary to fuel the variety of heavy machinery that's available to the prospective wood and metal workers, machinists, welders, potters, printers, and other artisans invited to take advantage of the 16,000-square-foot "makerspace" there.

"There’s so much out there that it’s tough to get everything," said Marchetty, who added that he's also got his eye on a leather stamp. "I want people to be creating and building incredible stuff."

Memberships to The Factory woodworking or metal shops are available for $99 monthly with a year-long commitment, and new members who take the 12-month plunge on Wednesday will earn a free month.

'Everything's falling into place'

In addition to the technological playground that Marchetty is creating on the shop floor, The Factory also functions as a small business incubator, with artists, recording engineers, photographers, energy developers, and a coffee roaster among its permanent tenants.

The building also has become a staging area for special events, including the 2013 Before the Bridge Music Festival, and hosts live performances every Second Saturday.

"The building is such an incredible building, I don’t think it would have worked in any other place," Marchetty said.

"Everything’s finally falling into place," he said. "I walk in and there’s a satisfaction that hits me."

The grand opening of The Factory makerspace is 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, January 15. 
Click the video above to take a virtual tour.

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