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St. Pete 3D printing company hopes to elevate the city

Veronica Brezina



Haddy co-founder Jay Rogers inside the St. Pete HQ, alongside Mayor Ken Welch. All photos: Veronica Brezina.

Innovator Jay Rogers could have built his new 3D-furniture printing company in any of the nation’s competitive tech hubs, but he has set his sights on St. Petersburg.

Rogers has secured a long-term lease for a 20,000-plus-square-foot warehouse at 1921 5th Ave. S., near the Morean Arts Center and Brick Street Farms, to launch his 3D printing startup Haddy, which he founded in 2022 along with CTO Kyle Rowe.

“When we were looking for a place, we wanted a city that wasn’t New York or San Francisco,” Rogers, a Florida native, said during Haddy’s Tuesday grand opening event.

One of Haddy’s 3D printers that was actively printing panels Tuesday.

Rogers is also the founder of the motor vehicle manufacturing company Local Motors, which created the Strati, the world’s first 3D-printed electric cars.

He explained how the furniture sector has faced numerous headwinds in labor costs, and inventory issues as a result of supply chain disruptions and the war in Ukraine.

“We cannot try to beat China with labor costs. It drives people into a low-wage scenario,” Rogers said, instead, he wants to flip the script and create higher-paying STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) jobs that will fuel the local economy, starting with Haddy.

The company defines itself as a micro-manufacturer of furniture produced through direct digital manufacturing (DDM) using machine learning. All of the materials it utilizes are recycled, including plastics and found fishing nets.

3D-printed furniture at Haddy.

The co-founder and former CEO of America Online (AOL) Steve Case also spoke at Haddy’s event and discussed the success of the Rise of the Rest Florida, which puts some of most innovative tech startups in the state on the map, helping level the playing field against competing peer metros.

“Almost a decade ago, the idea [behind creating Rise of the Rest] was that there are great entrepreneurs everywhere who innovate and create jobs that drive economic growth, but many of those entrepreneurs needed the capital to scale,” Case said.

Fromer AOL CEO and co-founder Steve Case speaks at Haddy’s grand opening event.

During that time, 75% of venture capital was being deployed in states such as Boston and San Francisco that were experiencing a large tech boom while Florida, among other states, only saw 1-2% of VC investments, Case said.

The dynamic led to people fleeing those states as to not be “left behind” in trying to emerge within the tech industry. However, Tampa Bay is gaining traction and acknowledgments for its evolving startup ecosystem, while simultaneously experiencing a significant population increase as people migrated from outside states to Florida where the economy remained open for business, Case said.

He added how many of the Fortune 500 companies experience turnover around the 25-year mark, creating an incentive for investors to funnel investments in viable startups.

Today, Haddy is a seven-person team and is seeking to hire more women in the tech space, which is largely a male-dominated sector. Haddy has raised over $2.5 million through angel investors, which were in attendance.

St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch said he learned about Haddy last year and appreciates the company’s sustainability commitments and progressing the workforce sector in the city.

Furniture printed by Haddy’s robots.

The company functions through a business-to-business model and has a partnership with home furnishings retailer Room and Board.

Rogers said Haddy is building 10,000 furniture units for a company in Indianapolis.

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