2010 Minnesota Camp ShopBot


The picture above is a very good summary of our host’s philosophy about running a business. Glen Kadelbach, owner of Innovative Foam, ( as well as a number of other affiliated businesses) believes that sometimes you HAVE to act on instincts, and hunches, and then take a chance by trying to make these ideas into something tangible.

This was our second Camp at Glen’s shop, and he again showed us some of the ways he has incorporated this concept into building a successful business ( or two, or three…). Glen’s work is almost exclusively in foam, LARGE foam pieces.  And he has found ways to make his work SO interesting that he consistently gets great projects to work on. Last year he was showing us some of his techniques for building large pieces, and then coating them for exterior applications. Some of you may have seen Glen’s work on the Shopbot web page, including pieces for the Department of defense, Macy’s, etc. This year he showed how a business can be built by developing a reputation as being “the guy who CAN get the job done, regardless of size…”.

When we walked into his shop he was starting to put the final touches on a “forest of foam” which will be part of a large  ( NYC) Christmas display. The fact that Glen is in Central Minnesota, and getting this kind of work further points out the reputation, and success he has been developing. In addition to the “forest” there were various, huge projects all over the shop including a foam bridge, white board writing pads, and very large sets of numbers for other shops to work with. He even had to move a couple of 250 pound blocks of foam out of the shop so we would have room to place our chairs etc., inside.

Glen works with a Shopbot ( that has a very deep Z axis)  and a CNC hot wire foam cutting machine, and there probably isn’t a shape he can’t generate in one way or the other between his arsenal of tools, and his ingenuity. In addition to his booming businesses, including one which exclusively builds props for photographers, he also finds the time to run an 80 acre organic farm as well, so he has some equipment around the shop which is waaaay beyond the scope of the average ‘Botter.

So we were able to use some of these ideas in our sessions during the Camp. We got into the ideas of how to develop some products, and then get them out into the public arena. Everyone attending shared some of their own business experience, and  we had a pretty good interchange of ideas.

Eric Erickson didn’t have a Shopbot at last year’s Camp, but he bought one right after attending the Camp, and he brought along a few signs he has started to market from his new shop in Wisconsin.

Miles Thormodson, and his son Stephen brought along some wood pieces they have designed, including a clever wooden arrowhead . And Stephen, who is a high school student explained HIS “business plan”of developing a marble game he hopes to cut out on their machine.

Dan, and Bridget Nelson drove down from Wisconsin and explained how they are trying to develop their own business , so they were great catalysts for the discussions by asking a bunch of “how do you”type questions.

Stephan Voelkel spoke about his plans to build a plasma machine to go along with his Shopbot for doing larger sign work. And he brought along a friend who was interested in using CNC to build boats of different styles. So we covered a pretty wide range of topics in a short amount of time.

On top of all of this good information we hit what will probably be the last great weather in the area for awhile so we were able to do a quick “tour”of Glen’s facilities to see everything from his barn(s) which are currently housing 500 tons of hay, his diabolical looking arsenal of farming tools,to his now ( in)famous project from last year, the Shopbot built chicken plucking machine. Thanks again to Glen, and his family for having us around for the weekend !

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