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Made in the Ozarks: Skunkwerks Adventure Products

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Brad Calbert’s foldable fire pits started out of necessity.

An avid motorcyclist who started his own repair shop, Calbert often camps with the basics his bike can carry. Now that includes one of his hot-rolled steel fire pits that collapses to a quarter of an inch thick and can be easily strapped to his motorcycle.

The original concept, the Buckner, now has developed into two other versions: one for cooking, dubbed the Chef, and another, Ouray, meant for home use.

SBJ: How did Skunkwerks Adventure Products begin?
Calbert: Skunkwerks began in a one-room storage building as a motorcycle tire shop. This was a side hustle as I worked designing robotic welding stations for various local companies. Our core business is a fast-paced Euro-centric motorcycle shop that works on all makes and models. Our passion, though, is custom metal goods. We purchased (computer numerical control) equipment in 2012 and have produced products for Bass Pro (Shops), Tether Tug and other local businesses.

SBJ: What are the challenges and opportunities to manufacturing your fire pits in the Ozarks?
Calbert: We have a neat niche here in that there are a lot of outdoorsy people in the Ozarks. We’re trying to push that “Ozarkian” feel into the market. This is a neat destination, and there are some really good craftsmen in the area. We’re always going to push built in the Ozarks.

SBJ: Where did the inspiration for the fire pits come from?
Calbert: When we’re traveling and camping off our motorcycles, there are a lot of places that don’t let you build a fire. Originally, it was just out of necessity. That sparks conversations in the shop Monday morning. What if there is a market for this thing? We made a Facebook post about it and gave a few of them away as market research. We got some really good feedback.

SBJ: What is the first thing you remember making?
Calbert: My parents bought a train set for Christmas around age 9. By age 11, I disassembled the majority of it, fixed it to a piece of scrap plywood and created a launchable rail rocket.

SBJ: You’re only four months into making these fire pits. What does the future hold?
Calbert: We’re going to continue developing outdoor products, durable goods made out of metal. Provided this continues to do well, we’re going to take that capital and put it back into (research and development) for other products. We have an eye on outdoor retailers.

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