Home News Vision Spotlight: A long journey to launch, part 1

Spotlight: A long journey to launch, part 1

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Christina Stock Photo Josh Berry is seen here in November 2019 at his Roswell shop with the fully lit hi-tech rocket sign he created. It would take more than a year to install it due to the pandemic.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Metal artist Josh Berry’s newest project for Stellar Coffee Co. benefits the look of MainStreet Roswell

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

Anyone driving downtown Main Street on Tuesday morning saw an unusual sight: A retro-looking large metal object in the form of a rocket — protected by a state trooper — was being hoisted by a large Hollowell Construction crane high in the air to be attached to the walls of Stellar Coffee Co.’s shop. Under the eyes of the excited coffee shop owner, Anne Baker, the rocket was connected to the programming module in the inside. At night, rolling LED light flames and chasers on the rocket will advertise the location of the coffee shop.

This rocket was designed and created by local artist Josh Berry, a man of many talents. The rocket is a fusion of his memories of old Roswell and his love for the atomic era and Route 66-style of signs, updated with technology that Berry had to design himself.

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Berry is known in town for his ability in creating unique functional art pieces under his brand name Metalmark Eclectics.

The launch of an idea

The glittering rocket took six years to finally come to be. “Josh Berry with Metalmark Eclectics came to me,” Baker said. “We kind of ran into each other when I first started opening and he was working on trying to bring some community awareness together to improve downtown. He became a customer and a friend. Before we knew it, we were talking signs. He is a very gifted metal artist and he was looking at potentially getting into the metal sign arts. We thought, well, let’s start with Stellar and it’ll improve downtown and maybe we can get better signage downtown. That’s how it all started and over the years (since 2014) he’s gotten expertise and gotten better and better. The sign is a piece of art, it is amazing and it is worth every minute of the wait.”

“We started the process — it took about four to five months to get it designed and engineered out before we started building, but when I first started this process I hadn’t ever built a sign — we were a new company — we hadn’t built anything like this. I greatly underestimated the entire process,” Berry said and chuckled.

The challenges

Baker said one of the other things to overcome for Berry was that the company that was supposed to provide the laser cutting went out of business. Berry had to purchase a laser cutter and teach himself to use it.

“I quoted her a price on it that was quite a bit below (what) it ended up being,” Berry said. “So we agreed we would keep that price the same, but I would only work on it in an off time, since I am the only one at my job here. Over the years, I just kept putting time into it whenever I could and the process got so huge, as far as I figured, we’ve got over 3,500 hours in it.”

The technology that Berry used for the rocket is unique, and he said it came to be with trial and error. Asked if he had an engineering degree, Berry laughed and said, “I think I earned my engineering degree here in my shop over the last years working on this thing. But no, I am self-taught. My background is, I’m a car freak, so I have a car collection that I really enjoy working on. I enjoy modifying them and working on them as much as driving them. That hobby lent itself because I learned how to weld, and I learned how to do structural things. My dad (Tom Berry) taught me a lot of the basics when I started the business. From there it’s just been experience on the job. I just learn as I go. So when I got into this, I kind of figured it out. You know, YouTube is a great thing, you can learn so much on there, from different welders. I just did my own kind of research over the years on this. I happened to find Bob Darrow who helped me with the flame part of the rocket. The lights on the flame are probably the most dramatic on it. Pennz Electric helped with the hook-ups and Holloway Construction helped with mounting the bracket.”

Finances and a pandemic delay the launch

Every business owner has to carefully budget their finances. Privately owned small businesses are often just one payment away from going under, as the pandemic showed. The installment of the rocket sign was originally planned for the end of November 2019, but was postponed because Baker wanted to have her building painted before the installation of the rocket. “We stopped the process of putting it up and wanted to wait until she got it painted real quick and then COVID hit — that stopped the whole process. We’ve been trying to figure out how to get it up ever since then. But everything worked out finally,” Berry said.

Baker had to adapt to the pandemic as others did with curbside service and outdoor seating. After months of worries, Baker found financial backing that carried the installation of her rocket sign. “I did receive the city of Roswell CARES Act grant,” she said. “I received it a couple of months ago, and it was for the expenses to put the sign up. It was such a blessing for us. The grant for Stellar was $18,000. It has helped me retain my staff and it has alleviated a lot of the insecurities about how long we’re going to have to keep our dining room shut and how much business we’re going to lose over the next months. I would have a lot of sleepless nights if it weren’t for that (grant). I really appreciate it.”

Then, a day before the installation, another positive message reached Baker. “There is another New Mexico Finance Authority CARES Act grant that businesses were allowed (I’m) applying for in December,” she said, “I was just notified yesterday (Dec. 21) that I’ll receive that. It’s $15,000 and that will go toward my back porch. I wanted to have a back porch anyway, but if we have to keep our dining room closed for another year, that’s going to be essential. That’ll be the next thing, we’ll be just doing one project at a time.”

For now, Baker and Berry are hoping that the near future will permit travel again when COVID-19 is under control. “We feel that Roswell has this hidden beauty that people don’t see when they first just drive down the street, but once you’re here and start to dig, it is a great city with a lot of arts and music going on in the background. We feel like to showcase that and what better way than to have signs on Main Street. I hope other businesses are energized by this and I hope Josh has so much business that he’ll work on signs for the next 10 years,” Baker said.

Part 2 will be featured in the next Sunday edition of the Roswell Daily Record’s Vision section, featuring origins and plans for 2021.

For more information, visit metalmarkseclectics.com, visit its Facebook page @metalmarklife or @StellarCoffeeCo.

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