Watchmaker Christopher Ward was the sole employee of Lanco Watchmakers lathes at his Chicago shop for 20 years.
Ward says his first job as a lathe maker was in the 1970s, when he worked as a machine operator at a Chicago department store.
But when he got out of school in 1988, Ward decided to take over the business after years of struggling with his own work ethic.
“I was doing things I wasn’t really good at,” Ward says.
“It was kind of like a challenge, because you know what?
I didn’t really have a clear-cut path for what I wanted to do.”
His path was to create a lathes company.
“We had an idea that we wanted to create machines that would be a little bit like the machines we use in my day job,” Ward said.
“And so we set out to build these lathes, and it’s been a long, hard road, but it’s something that’s been worth it.”
Ward started with an old lathe he’d salvaged from the Sears department store, and he eventually had his own shop.
He says the lathe business gave him the chance to spend more time with his family.
“You know, I had to think about the work and the time and the money and the equipment and all of that stuff that goes into it,” Ward told Fox News.
“That’s what I love about it.
It’s a constant, constant challenge.
But I also have the opportunity to help people and I really enjoy that, and I’m lucky to have a lot of friends who do.”
The lathe shop Ward owns is part of Lancos Watchmakers shop at 1845 N. Milwaukee Ave.
The lathes Ward works on at the shop are made of steel, aluminum, wood and ceramic.
“It’s not like the old, cheap machines that were used in the shops in the 1950s, 60s,” Ward explained.
“What we were building was actually very special, because we wanted it to be a machine that was made to last for the rest of your life, and you can’t replace a machine made in a garage, or you can replace a lathed piece of wood.
It will never work the way you want it to work, or the way it used to work.
And so it was really special, that we were trying to make that machine work for me.”
Ward is also a certified machinist and works on a lot more machines than just lathes.
He’s also a licensed home decorator, making hand-painted and other projects for homes across the country.
Ward has been working on his own brand of watchmaking since the mid-1990s.
He started with a basic watchmaking lathe that he salvaged out of a Sears department in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, then built his own lathe company in 1997.
Ward’s business was successful and growing, but he felt that he needed to do something bigger.
He decided to build a lathing company.
As he tells it, the lathes business is an idea he had for a decade and eventually realized was the only way to go.
“For a long time, I felt like I was doing a little too much,” Ward recalled.
“When I went to college, I just really struggled with it.
I was trying to be good at something and not doing enough.”
Now, Ward says he’s looking to build his lathes into a much larger company.
He also plans to open a full-time shop, and plans to expand his company to include the entire industry, from furniture to electronic components, in the future.
Watchmaker Christopher ward with his watchmaker desk.
For Ward, lathing is a very personal business, and that’s why he loves to help others.
And while Ward has a strong reputation in the watchmaking world, he says he has no plans to sell his lathe or to do anything like that.
“If I sell it, I’m not going to go back to school, I don’t have a job, and this is the most important thing in my life right now,” Ward tells Fox News about his lathing business.
“So it’s not really something I’m going to do right now, so I don.t have any interest in selling it.”
Watch maker christopher wards lathe at his watch maker desk.
Watchmaker ward has built a company to make watches.
Lanco Watchmaker lathes are a very special machine.
Catherine Ouellette with her watchmaker watch.
A Lanco watchmaker lathe.
This is a Lanco lathe lathe on the watchmaker shop floor at the watch maker shop in Chicago, Illinois.
Fox News’ Katherine Faulders contributed to this report.