Rich Stadler was scrolling on eBay one day when he came across a pair of board game dice made on a machine similar to one owned by his family business — J. Stadler Machine Inc. in Oshkosh. The dice were going for about $70 a pair and after a little research, Stadler decided to make his own pairs of dice to see how they would sell.
The original sale was a success and Stadler used a Kickstarter campaign in 2015 focused on spinning tops. “I found a group on Facebook where collectors of spinning tops hung out. I put four up for sale one day and they went like that. Then I put up eight, then 12 and they all sold out so quickly that I knew I was on to something,” Stadler says.
One Friday, he posted in the group at noon that he was going to make 50 spinners that weekend without saying what they would look like. “It sold out. Fifty people buying something and they didn’t even know what it was,” Stadler says.
And with that Billetspin was born as Stadler turned his hobby into a business. Besides spinning tops — which have a huge following — Billetspin makes a variety of machined items including whistles, pens and golf ball markers.
“Everything is cheap today and there’s a large group out there who want heirloom-quality pieces,” Stadler says. “They’re very high-end.”
And uncommon. Every item is a limited-edition piece and made using steel, bronze, copper and more exotic materials including damascus, super conductor and mokume.
As for the most elaborate piece he’s built, Stadler points to a top he made as a gift to a collector who helped get the word out about Billetspin. “There were 27 different pieces in a single top. It’s the most unique thing I’ve ever made,” he says.
— MaryBeth Matzek