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Former sailor sets course for business success

LS (Retired) Will Steed works with students during a DIY seminar at their workshop in Edmonton. Inset: Steed receives a Special Service Medal in 1994 for his work as a Naval Weapons Technician.

LS (Retired) Will Steed works with students during a DIY seminar at their workshop in Edmonton. Inset: Steed receives a Special Service Medal in 1994 for his work as a Naval Weapons Technician.

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A former sailor turned entrepreneur says the navy’s love of all things brass is helping him carve out a niche market for his metal and woodworking shop in Edmonton, Alberta.

Leading Seaman (Retired) Will Steed once served on warships of the Royal Canadian Navy as a Naval Weapons Technician from 1989 to 1996. Today, the 47-year-old and his wife Robyn Steed are business partners in a profitable manufacturing outfit called DIY Workshop.

Right now, it is “all-guns-a-firing” for DIY and the couple who started operations in 2017. Steed says a good chunk of their company’s financial success has come through the manufacturing of mementos and keepsakes for current and former military members.

“I have noticed that many RCN people seem to love anything with brass, and it’s something we constantly work with at our shop,” says Steed. “We often incorporate brass lettering into some very beautiful hardwoods, and we can custom make almost anything upon request.”

One unique project is a miniature replica of a Mach 46 Torpedo that he will mount onto an oak backing. The design is based on his research, photographs and looking at online models. The miniature is being made for a former military member from CFB Esquimalt to give to his friend as a memento for the time he served on warships.

“Sailors love getting presents that remind them of their work and time at sea, and we are more than happy to fulfill that need, whatever it might be,” says Steed.

From a 2,500 square foot facility in Edmonton’s Rosedale Industrial District, the Steeds’ workspace includes a fully-equipped workshop with saws, sanders, planners and metal work equipment that includes welders, a CNC milling machine, metal lathe, a full arsenal of hand and power tools and a Fusion 360 design and engineering system.

The company employs three full-time workers who help Steed produce most of his contracted work. His wife handles much of the DIY (do-it-yourself) side of business. This includes weekend seminars where participants are taught how make crafts, household items, and small and medium furniture such as storage cabinets. DIY also rents out the shop and its machinery to anyone interested in using it.

While he loves working on keepsakes for current and former sailors, some of his work borders on the bizarre.

He recently constructed a suit of armour made entirely of animal bones that was worn by a customer during a costume play festival in Arizona.

Last summer an Edmonton a man wanted his ride-on lawnmower converted into a mobile picnic table complete with umbrellas to be used at a local summer festival. Steed was more than happy to comply and said the creation looked strange but was well-equipped for a mobile barbecue or picnic and completely functional.

DIY is eager to fulfill any need and Steed hopes his story inspires others in the military looking for a new path in life.

“I truly hope that other veterans and military members who are reading this and are looking to make the jump to the civilian world, realize the value of their skill sets and have the confidence to stay the course for success.”

For more information, visit www.thediyworkshop.ca.

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