Curtis Nagel, Versatile’s New Drafter

Curtis Nagel

After his enlistment in the Navy Curtis Nagel returned to Texas to complete an Associate Degree in Architectural Technology. And to begin his professional journey as a drafter. Curtis’ most recent accomplishment was obtaining his Master’s Degree in Technology Management with an emphasis in safety (occupational and industrial hygiene). During each of these degrees, Curtis worked full time as a drafter and buyer for an electronics manufacturing business.  The business developed devices for the disabled community that had limited to no mobility.

You’ve been brought on as one of Versatile’s Drafters. Tell us about what your areas of responsibility will be.

Curtis Nagel: My main areas of responsibility will deal with documenting site specific conditions and applying my knowledge of architectural building systems to assist in drafting technical shop drawings for manufacturing. I will be collaborating with the sales, estimating, manufacturing, and other design teams to ensure my work will be easily understood and of high value.

You have a background in personnel management, avionics maintenance, architectural and mechanical drafting/design, and component procurement. What aspects of Versatile’s work and process are most similar to your previous work? What’s the most different?

Curtis Nagel: The most similar aspect that I can compare is collaboration. Knowledge is not static and must be continuously updated to assist in getting all hands on the same page. With multiple divisions collaborating projects together, we all can gain by learning the experience and knowledge from our peers and clients, working towards an end goal. The most different aspect that differs from my previous employment is with the large amount of individuals involved with each project. When I designed electronic case enclosures, there were only a handful of individuals involved from start to finish during project conception all the way to manufacturing, including principals.

What inspires you about custom manufacture?

Curtis Nagel: I consider custom manufacturing to be hand crafted and of quality work that cannot be obtained at a big box home improvement store. There are many times we “update” our homes with what is readily available but not always of the most suitable choice when seeking quality and period correct components for the project at hand. No matter what restaurant, store, landmark, building, or house that I am visiting, I am constantly looking at the design and building techniques used. I find more enjoyment out of those who take the time to understand the building components and manufacture them to suit the building properly and with quality.

Describe one of your favorite past projects. What were the challenges? What were some of the features that made it memorable?

Curtis Nagel: I was in charge of developing an adaptive switch that would allow users with cerebral palsy to access switch-based communication devices. While there are many types of adaptive switches in the niche market that we served, none were of higher quality. I was able to dissect and study each of the main competitor switches to see what made their switches “special” in their brand. Overall, I found nothing that really set them apart. I focused on designing a switch that was quieter when actuated. More durable for the CP user who was rougher on equipment. And that used custom manufacturing techniques that did not require redundant and costly fasteners. I was able to incorporate die-cut sound dampening foam pads that reduced noise when actuated as well as when the switch recoiled.

Designing the switch using a specific blend of plastics that allowed higher impact. And since this switch was only 2.5 inches in diameter with incorporated wiring and mechanics, the use of excess fasteners was reduced by understanding the effects of bonding plastic parts together with certain solvents. The precision design work of multiple components this small was a challenge to make sure they mate properly and did not hinder functionality because that would mean our disabled users would not be able to use their communication devices.

What are the top 3 things on your “bucket list?” 
  1. One of my bucket list items would be to travel to the Pyramids of Giza. I have always enjoyed learning about the architecture of the ancient Egyptians.
  2. During my first year of architecture school I wrote a paper on the architecture in Greece. I would love to go see the Acropolis in person.
  3. A few years ago I used to run competitively and never made it to the marathon level. I would love to leap over that distance hurdle.

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Rex Vaccaro, Versatile’s Custom Design Manager

Rex Vaccaro

Rex grew up in a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania. He also lived in Phoenix, AZ and in Seattle, WA before deciding to make Portland home. He has an AAS in Architectural Design & Drafting plus 10 years’ experience working closely with architects, designers, engineers, and builders. Rex has 14 years working with both European style cabinetry and traditional face frame cabinetry. Rex loves bicycling, hiking, gardening and remodeling his 1927 English cottage.

You’ve been brought on as Versatile’s first-ever Custom Design Manager. Tell us about what your areas of responsibility will be.

Rex: I’ll be working closely with our sales and production teams. Determining best design-build requirements for all of our products including doors, cabinets, sash, windows, furniture and store fronts etc. Creating processes and drafting standards for clear precise shop drawings to ensure the best product possible on a timely basis. I’ll also be hiring a couple more drafters in the very near future to meet our ever increasing growth demands!

You have a background in Architectural drafting and cabinetry design. What aspects of Versatile’s work and process are most similar to your previous work? What’s the most different?

Rex: It really ties both of my prior lives together. Plus the satisfaction that comes with being part of the superior well-crafted products that we are known for. With an added opportunity to put together a creative team that can adapt to the demands of our fast paced growth.

What inspires you about custom manufacture?

Rex: I love that every project is unique!

Describe one of your favorite past projects. What were the challenges? What were some of the features that made it memorable? 

Rex: It’s difficult to choose! I guess it would be either the Block House Cafe casework and furniture in Dayton, OR, or the Witherspoon Building store-fronts downtown. Both of these projects were beautifully designed and had unique sets of sight specific challenges to overcome. The Block House Cafe project included a 10 foot tall back bar made of Eastern Black Walnut. With the added challenge of concealing all the seismic bracing requirements. The counter and table tops were all made of reclaimed fir from the original floor joists!

What are the top 3 things on your “bucket list?” 

Rex: Travel, travel, travel!  I want to see everything but I want my next stops to be either the Acropolis, the Pyramids, a cruise through the Panama or the Mediterranean…or to just see the northern lights! I also have a pact with my partner to bike the coast from BC to Mexico!

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