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Making his own toys as a kid—even using power tools to do so—and 28 jobs later, Morgan Mead may have found his ultimate passion.
“I have too many interests,” says Mead, 35, founder and owner of a new South Bend-based company called Big Bits. What is Big Bits? Try “Makers of Anythings.” Yes, “anythings.”
Walk into the company’s shop and you’ll see laser-cutting and CNC machines, a 3D printer, sewing machine, computers and more, all required equipment to help Mead and his staff of three conceptualize, design, assemble and build custom-themed beds, kiosks, retail displays, signage, lighting installations, monster figures, sculptures, creature taxidermy—just about anything.
Mead says that people often ask him what type of things they make at Big Bits. “My answer to that is call us when you find yourself saying, ‘I have no idea how to get this made and no one
Over the past 16 months since he opened the company, they’ve produced projects for Beacon Health System, University Park Mall, South Bend Cubs, Xfinity and fulfilled numerous custom requests such as urns, a P-47 airplane bed, jewelry display case, candle box, Olympic-like torch and sandworm sculpture.
“We love to take on projects that challenge us. The best projects are the ones where, in the beginning, we have no idea how to start,” he says. “I’ve taken on projects without even knowing how I was going to do them. Over time, you become an expert on different processes and materials.”
The worst part of a project for he and his team is seeing it go out the door and never seeing it again. “We’re ‘Do-It-Yourselfers’ to the core. We just like making things. We believe in the art of overcoming challenges and fearlessly stepping outside our comfort zones on a daily basis. We know that’s where innovation happens,” he says.
Mead realized his passion for making things at an early age when, at seven, he would make his own toys, molding and casting from his collection of action figures to grow his Army. He even remembers using power tools as a kid to satisfy that need to create. He first went to college in Los Angeles for film making, and made some independent films for a while, but they did not pay the bills. Then, around the age of 30 he studied at a Hollywood film school for visual effects and made props for movies, commercials and product prototypes. In and around all this, he had 28 completely, unrelated jobs. With each job, he picked up a new skill, learning a little bit from this job and a little bit from that job.
The Plymouth native moved back to the area when he and his wife were expecting their first child. His plan was to move back to L.A. to resume his job making movie props, a job he really liked due to its variety. But family came first, and he stayed here in the South
“I really wanted to do something like I was doing before, making a variety of displays and props, but there was nothing like that here. On a whim, the day after I decided not to move back to California, I decided to start my own business and see how it goes.” Mead registered with the state of Indiana and started attracting customers a week later.
In his first year, he was the sole employee, using cold calling, word-of-mouth and digital marketing to get the message out about his company.
More than creating custom projects that he’s never done before, Mead’s steepest learning curve initially was setting prices. “Our prices are really competitive. People have to understand that we have to ‘invent’ the custom items they are wanting. We truly start from scratch on most projects, and design exactly to our customers’ needs. When we get requests for things that already exist, I don’t even quote them. If you can buy it in a store, then buy it in a store!”
The self-proclaimed “jack-of-all-trades” and “maker of anythings,” even developed his own algorithms to set prices and produce competitive quotes. His numerous jobs have come in handy. He also does the company’s marketing, bookkeeping and hiring in addition to being its chief inventor, artist, engineer
The company is beginning to pioneer their own products to sell which will create a separate revenue stream. This includes monster taxidermy, plush dolls and creature sculptures. “We’d like for it to grow into an oddities or creatures shop because creatures are a passion of mine,” he says.
Mead wants to create life-like creatures, in dynamic poses, one might see under the sea or in the jungle. These products could be used in museums, attractions and entertainment venues. There will also be apps and games that Big Bits will eventually develop, but most likely in 2018, not to mention his desire to open a second custom shop location in a different region of the country to reach different clientele.
“I’ve been told again and again that I should concentrate on one thing with laser focus. It’s great advice I take to heart, but it assumes someone can only have a single laser. I like to think we have lots of lasers here—all focused on different things.”
Contact Big Bits at bigbits.us or call 574.213.9336.