Cathie Anderson

Co-founder of Roseville architecture firm retires

Jim Williams is retiring from Williams+Paddon, the Roseville-based architecture firm he co-founded in 1981, but he won’t be stepping away from his civic involvement.

Williams is president of the board of the South Placer County Municipal Utility District. He also serves on the boards of organizations as diverse as the Placer Community Foundation and the Northern California World Trade Center. In the past, Williams has been a Placer County supervisor, board chairman of the influential Valley Vision think tank and president of the Roseville Chamber of Commerce. The list can – and does – go on.

Still, as Williams approached the magic number, age 65, he wanted a bit more free time to pursue the community work he’d done on the side: “Retirement, that’s an odd word. I think what they say now is repurposing or redirecting.”

Bill Mueller, chief executive of Valley Vision, said he hopes Williams will continue working to make the world a better place.

“He’s got an uncanny way of looking at the same issue as everyone else but with fresh eyes and a penetrating intellect,” Mueller said. “That’s the architect in him – seeing what others can’t see. The businessman in him brings another virtue – his ability to distill complicated topics into their essence and bottom-line it in bare language.”

Mueller recalled how Williams championed the effort to create the first-ever regional inventory of civic assets – parks, pools, art galleries, museums and the like – across six counties. It’s a list that continues to help define the quality of life here and identify areas where it can be improved, Mueller said.

At Williams+Paddon, Williams was the managing principal who kept a steady hand on the business side of things, but he also was known as the life of the luau. If the outside temperature was 80 degrees or higher and it was a Friday, Williams could be found in a Hawaiian shirt, and that was the rule for everyone at the firm.

Principal architect Terry Green recalled how the dress code once posed a challenge.

“We showed up one Friday in our Hawaiian shirts, and we get a phone call in the morning to bring our portfolio out to meet with some people who wanted to do an addition or expansion to their building,” Green said. “So, Jim and I went out there with our portfolio, and we walk into this room with guys in three-piece suits from Beverly Hills, sitting around the table.”

Despite the casual attire, they got the job, Green said, but “I don’t think we’ve ever done that since then.”

Besides his civic work, Williams expects to eventually do some consulting for Williams+Paddon, continue working in his garden and enjoy time with his family. Williams and his wife, Diane Williams, built their home in Loomis on the same plot of land where his parents and grandparents lived. Their son Matthew Williams also lives on the same parcel, just across Williams Pond, in the home where his grandparents lived. Matthew and his wife are expecting their first baby.

“Next year in 2015, we’re celebrating 100 years since my family moved here to this property,” Williams said. “Long term, you really get a sense of place. You get a sense that we’re all stewards of the land, and you’re responsible for trying to carry it through to the next generation.”

Hit ‘print’ to manufacture

It’s showtime for 3D printers. Once used to make product prototypes, the devices are now being used for larger manufacturing runs.

El Dorado Hills’ SlideBelts plans to join the vanguard starting next year.

Brig Taylor, co-owner of SlideBelts, which makes stylish men’s belts without holes, told me that the company is spending a half-million dollars on a 3D printer. It will produce buckles for the new survival belt the company is introducing in 2015. He and his wife, co-owner Michelle Taylor, finished up a successful Kickstarter campaign in September that raised $200,032 to get the belts manufactured. The buckles can be used to open bottles and start fires, while the belts have enough tensile strength to tow in a boat or carry heavy objects.

“We’re purchasing a new 3D printer from a company called Renishaw, out of the U.K., and they make a bunch of different machines, one of which is a 3D printer that prints in titanium,” Brig Taylor said. “The prices on titanium powder have dropped dramatically because they have a new process for gathering the titanium powder, so it actually works in favor for us.”

Taylor said he met with engineers from Renishaw a few weeks ago at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago, and as he penciled out the numbers, it began to make sense for SlideBelts to get into manufacturing. With a 3D printer, the product design is created in a computer file, and the printer creates a product out of whatever metal or plastic additives are loaded into the machine.

“Most people are trying to produce, say, a titanium bike, but it ends up being a $10,000 titanium bike,” Taylor said. “We make an innovative product, but we don’t use much metal. That means a 3D printer makes sense for us.”

Call The Bee’s Cathie Anderson, (916) 321-1193. Follow her on Twitter @CathieA_SacBee.