Father-Daughter Duo Invent Machines to Expand Business
Some people are born with a knack for mechanics and creativity. Trevor Fredrickson, 53, and Alex Fredrickson, 28, are two such people. They are the father-daughter team behind Big North Graphics and Bigger North Manufacturing in Manning. Big North Graphics is a one-stop shop for custom-made signs, silk screening, games and more.
Importantly, they produce their goods with machines they engineered and build together, applying their skills and zeal for creativity.
Trevor grew up on a farm near Cleardale, where he learned to repair anything that broke down.
“There was always something to fix. It was more necessity than fun,” said Trevor.
Trevor became a heavy equipment technician and machinist, working long hours on the road. In 2008, he built his first machine to cut out signs.
“It was what started all of it,” said Trevor. “I spent quite a few years of my life being a mechanic, but I really enjoy what I’m doing right now.”
Alex was in Grade 10 when she saw her dad’s machine and had an industrious idea. She made home decor signs to sell at farmers markets and on Facebook and Etsy.
“I don’t know how I thought of the idea, but I always was crafty and liked to make things,” said Alex.
Alex was so successful she convinced her dad to build bigger and better machines that could handle more orders and materials.
“My dad would be cutting and cutting in his free time. Finally he said, ‘This is too much. We need a bigger machine.’ So, we built one that could do more work in less time,” said Alex.
The hand-made machines are called CNC routers (Computer Numerical Control routers). The two also built another machine that cut metal, which they use to make custom firepits and garden stakes.
“She will explain what she needs and how it should work, and I draw machine designs on napkins and small pieces of paper,” said Trevor.
The two collaborate quite effectively.
“He makes the instrument, and I play the symphony,” said Alex.
Alex went to SAIT to earn a business diploma with a major in marketing. She learned how to run and grow their business, which now offers a variety of products and services.
They can put logos on jackets, cups, hats, and other items using embroidery or silk screening. They even make their own pegs for crib boards and frustration rummy in any colour, using an injection moulder that Trevor also built.
“You can only buy pegs for crib and frustration rummy in five colours. We had been waiting for months to get the pegs, so Dad built an injection moulder, and now we can just make our own,” said Alex.
Doing nearly everything in-house sets their business apart from others.
They manufacture, design and deliver. They have a loyal customer base that appreciates their quality work and personal touch.
The Fredricksons enjoy working together as a family, sharing their vision and values. Wife-and-mother Deana is also an integral part of the business. She and Trevor both quit their jobs nearly 10 years ago, so they could go into business as a family. Their other daughter, Kelly, has worked at the company too.
It all started with Trevor and Alex. They are an inspiring example of how innovation and entrepreneurship can thrive in rural Alberta. They have turned their hobbies into a successful business that showcases their talents and creativity.
Now, they all look forward to celebrating Alex’s wedding in August, where they will display some of the signs they made for the occasion.
Big North Graphics and Bigger North Manufacturing have two locations. One is for fabricating and the other is for manufacturing. They are proud to be a local business that supports other local businesses and uses sustainable materials and practices.
You can check out Big North Graphics on social media and follow their upcoming projects.
110 4 Ave. SW Manning, AB
Writing and Photography by Nathan and Chelsey Friedt, Lemon Social