What more could the heart of a man desire?

Hi everybody, my name is Paul Burford. I’m one half of BTR Fabrications and we build mountain bikes designed to be abused. To date I have built just over 30 frames, mostly hardtails, but we have built a couple prototype full susers and have plans to put them into production very soon. Currently, BTR doesn’t make enough money to support both Tam and I, so we’ve always had to to work for the ‘man’ in order to buy food and pay the rent. Until now that is…

I’m teaching the Classic Framebuilding Course, and Tig Masterclass at TBA but How and Why did I get here? Well, that’s kind of a long story… I had been working as a Welder/Fabricator in the factories for a while, but then just before Christmas 2012 I was made redundant. Work had dried up and it was the old ‘last in first out’ jobbie so I found myself back walking the pavements looking for a new job. Now obviously I knew about TBA and I knew that Andrew was a man well connected, although I had never met him. So I fired him over an email asking him if he knew any welding jobs going that I could apply for. It didn’t take long for a reply to come back, he said “Well actually, I was thinking about starting a TIG welding course, do you want to come and visit this weekend?”. He didn’t have to ask me twice!

Obviously this kind of thing takes time to set up, Andrew had to buy all the equipment, and we needed to plan the course (not to mention find a space to teach) so I still had to find myself a job until we could get everything in place. I got myself into a place making heat exchangers for the oil and gas industry, pretty well paid and fairly interesting too. It wasn’t ‘the dream’ though… One day in July 2013 I got a call from Andrew “Something has come up, how soon can you start?” I replied “I only have to give a week notice, I’ll hand it in tomorrow” And that, as they say, was that!

But why? It was going to be more hours for less money. Any normal person would tell me that it didn’t make sense, and they did tell me. They didn’t understand though. I had been a fan of TBA and the work they did since I first heard about the crowd funding campaign, what could be cooler and more fun than teaching people how to make (which I love) bike frames (which I love)? Nothing! To top it all off Andrew said we could put the BTR workshop right next to TBA. Basically I didn’t even need to think about it.

I have been at TBA for just over two months now, I have moved house and the BTR workshop in that time both of which were pretty stressful,  but we’re in now and things have started to settle down a bit. I have to say it’s begun to sink in that this is all actually the dream come true! I really enjoy teaching people how to make stuff, and Andrew is by far the best Boss I have ever had (he’s standing right behind me), I can get Sam (the apprentice) to do all my dirty work, and BTR is pretty much in the same workshop. The girlfriend and I finally have our own house with fields and a river just across the road for walking Themba too.

“What more could the heart of a man desire?”

Keep ‘er Sideways


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