OVID — Matt Jones had a good job at BonaDent Dental Laboratories in Seneca Falls, but he wanted to be his own boss and run his own business.
So, he switched from dentures to laser engraving, forming Finger Lakes Laser in his home on Route 96A in Ovid.
It’s a new business — Jones opened just two months ago — but he is hoping it will turn into a lifelong career.
The Seneca Falls native graduated from Romulus High School in 2004. He went to work at a dental lab, then at BonaDent, for a total of 11 years.
Now 33, Jones worked for CCMI in Geneva and at Bonavista State Golf Course in Ovid before purchasing a 3D-laser machine and starting Finger Lakes Laser.
“It’s almost enough to make a living at this point,” Jones said. “I’m confident business will grow to make a decent income. I’m hoping the holiday season will be good to me.”
Jones does custom engraving on almost any hard surfaces, cups, bowls, wood, glass or acrylics items.
“I taught myself how to use the machine and its software to do the precision engraving with the laser,” Jones said. “The software for the machine is constantly getting better. People come to me with a design and I can usually do it. I do a lot of cups, mugs, plaques and trophies.
“The laser beam is very precise,” Jones continued. “The laser beam is very small, allowing me to do very finely detailed engravings.”
Jones said he began his laser work in his dining room. He has since moved into a more spacious area in a spare bedroom. Jones said people can bring their own items to be engraved, or he can sell them a variety of items.
“I’m looking to expand further into leased space or possibly constructing a building next to my house,” he said. “I envision making the laser machine available for people who have learned how to operate it, and I would like offer classes on how to use it.”
Jones said he’s always liked to take things apart and put them back together after figuring out how they work. That’s why robotics is an interest of his, and he wants to share his knowledge with others with similar interests.
He said once he got a Facebook page up and running to promote his business, his customer base has grown. He invested about $2,000 in the Chinese-made laser, which he bought on eBay. He said his next investment likely will be adding a computerized numerical-control router to the laser.
Jones is friends with the co-owner of Finger Lakes Beard Brothers in Phelps. He did some work for them, and they posted positive comments on their podcast, which he said has jacked up orders.
“I’ve got to find my niche in the market,” he said.
Jones’ wife, Holly, has a full-time job, although Matt said she helps out on occasion.
One reason Jones settled on laser printing as an engraving method is because it is more permanent than simple 3-D printing.
“I’m trying to keep up on the latest laser technology to make this work for us,” he said. “I enjoy the work and being creative with the designs.”