by Kirby Lindsay, posted 20 August 2014
“We love the building,” Dhruv Agarwal said of the Fremont Foundry – the new location of the offices for his business True Fabrications. Agarwal and his business partners selected this location for the sales and design of their wine, bar and gift products. Agarwal described their enterprise as, “a scrappy young company,” begun in his garage in Irvine, California. As the company grew the partners decided to move to Seattle but, according to Agarwal, “we wouldn’t want to be in Downtown. It doesn’t fit our culture.”
Instead they found Fremont. “I thought the neighborhood was very cool,” Agarwal explained, and he willing took on restoration of one of our most iconic sites. “Such an interesting building, with so much history,” he observed about the building formerly known as the Fremont Fine Arts Foundry.
“For the last 10 years, it wasn’t used,” Agarwal said of the bronze foundry where artists used to create works still displayed around Seattle. Now the building has been restored, into offices and a creative events venue. “We kept a lot of the character of the building,” he explained, “we made an effort to preserve the building.”
A Flexible Foundry For Fun Festivities
Except for True Fabrications office space, and some of the former gallery space now used for a product showroom, it is possible for the general public to see the Fremont Foundry. It’s been used for events of all sizes and descriptions since last spring.
The building can accommodate a broad variety of uses – it is that flexible. The main floor, called the Atrium, can fit 400 people. It has two, small rooms that can be rented separately, as off-site offices or conference rooms, or open off the Atrium for use as a bridal suite, green room or V.I.P. area. The building has a sound system, two kitchen areas (still undergoing some improvements,) and half-dozen well-regarded local caterers have partnered with the Foundry to make the events delicious as well as functional.
In addition, the building has other ‘spaces,’ including the courtyard – decorated with art from the original Fine Arts Foundry – that can open off the Atrium, or be rented separately (for up to 200 people.) The courtyard can accommodate a food truck, a cocktail party or having a movie screened on the exterior wall. On the top floor of the Foundry, the penthouse space features a particle accelerator chandelier (made from ‘materials’ left over by a previous tenant) and a cozy space for a smaller party (50 people). Off the penthouse is an outdoor terrace area, with an enviable view of Fremont and plenty of room for a lively party in the heart of Fremont.
Throughout the building, as would be expected, art has been incorporated. Michael Alm created a wood wall at the entrance from recovered lumber, and Jonathan Rentz, of Rentz Industrial Design, did metal work, a sign, the glass and metal frame that covers the former bronze pit, chandeliers and a gate. On interior walls, Agarwal kept some of the graffiti that former tenants used to ‘decorate’ the building, and in the penthouse he’s preserved a wood carving done based on an original design by former tenant Rich Beyer.
“We were going to do restaurants,” Agarwal explained, about his original plan for the space beyond what True Fabrications needed, “but we decided to do the venue space instead. We can use it ourselves,” as the growing company does product launches, company meetings, employee happy hours, client events, or winery/brewery tastings. “It works well with us as a company,” he observed. The venue space, managed by Keirah Dein, can pay for itself with two to three events a week, “but we can use the space the rest of the time,” Agarwal said.
A Truly Innovative New Business
True Fabrications may need more and more space. Over the last ten years, the company has seen 40% growth each year.
Agarwal started the venture making gift bags for wine bottles. The first bags were made of jute, and based on a design his father brought over from India. Agarwal made, and sold, the first bags and when that took off, he brought in two friends to help with marketing, sales, and distribution. To this day, “I’m more on the product development side of it,” he explained.
Today, wine bags form a very, very small part of the ever expanding list of products they create. True Fabrications has 1,500 products it has designed and distributes. The company currently employs 110 people, and can introduce 2 – 300 new products each year through their wholesale catalogue and gift shows. “We do a broadening assortment of great items,” Agarwal stated proudly.
They produce items in several different brand lines to appeal to different markets. ‘Twine’ items have a rustic elegance, while the ‘Foster & Rye’ line sports a western theme. ‘Host’ is the innovation line, with modern, patented products. ‘Viski’ could be considered the ‘James Bond’ line. “We look for opportunities in the market that excite us,” Agarwal explained. Each line might have coasters, wine openers, glasses, flasks, stoppers, ice buckets, cheese boards, etc. but all have their own style and design.
Events & Product Development Can Co-Exist
“We’re an ambitious group of people,” Agarwal explained, and “we’re a young company. We hire a lot of people right out of college.” Agarwal began True Fabrications in 2003, himself just out of college. “I’ve never had a real job,” he joked, “just this.”
Agarwal continues to concept new products, and new product lines, for True Fabrications. He leaves the management of the venue space in the capable hands of Dein. If you would like to tour the Fremont Foundry, for any size or kind of upcoming event, find her through the Fremont Foundry website.
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©2014 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.