Lee Ballauer, Collingswood Board Company

Mechanical engineer Lee Ballauer used to spend his days designing environmental control systems for the V-22 Osprey. Now his eye for technical performance is decidedly more grounded, if no less precise.

A third-generation Boeing employee, Ballauer left the company and its corporate strictures behind after 16 years to be his own boss. Now in its second year, his startup Collingswood Board Company retails custom skateboards and longboards of Ballauer’s own design.

“Getting away from the corporate world and having no structure whatsoever, this is perfect for a creative person,” he said. “There’s no rules. But being at The Factory has helped me grow beyond what I would have been able to do out of my own home.”

Ballauer first joined The Factory as a woodworker in its makerspace, but it wasn’t long after that he realized the facility had more opportunity to offer beyond its impressive inventory of machinery.

“Plugging into the community gives me inspiration,” Ballauer said. “Being around the other workers here pushes you to better your own product and sharpen your skills, and it makes your company better as a result. It makes my production possible.”

In year two, Ballauer said he’s looking to push the envelope of what he can do further. From traditional, formed plywood longboards to professional screen-printed designs, Collingswood Board Co. is primed to expand its retail base, which currently includes Curbside Skate in Medford and Community Bikes and Boards in Haddonfield.