Meet the guy who creates the signs for many popular Huntsville businesses


Look around Huntsville and you’ll see Micah Gregg’s fingerprints. Signs to local breweries Direct to Ale and Yellowhammer? He created them. He’s also done signs for small businesses here, ranging from Lone Goose Saloon, Oscar Moon’s Milkshake Shop and Earth and Stone Wood Fired Pizza to luthier Tangled String, Fringe Salon and pilates studio The Fitzgerald.

With his design and manufacturing studio, Drop Metal, Gregg is helping shape the next generation of local Huntsville colors. As the name of his company suggests, most of Gregg’s works are made of metal, including steel and aluminum. Its style combines sleek design, southern patina and artisanal charm.

“What I love,” says Gregg, “is taking an idea from a crazy little pencil sketch, and turning it into a real three-dimensional thing. The whole process – from doing the design, the creating and working on it and seeing how it all fits together – is just cool.

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While the signs are among the most visible creations of Drop Metal in Huntsville, there are others. He made the patio tables for the downtown restaurant/market, The Standard. He made about 25 bar stools for Phat Sammy’s, a tiki-themed favorite. A parallelogram pattern bike rack also for Lincoln Mill.

For Gold Sprint Coffee, Gregg built mid-century bar tables, chairs, and shelves, as well as outdoor planters for the cacti that punctuate the patio. Even more impressively, he then designed the large mystical-looking double doors connecting the two interior spaces of the coffeeshop.

The dark rust colored doors look like they come from an ancient temple. In the center, an eye design with radiating golden rays. Above are images of hands each with four raised fingers, interlocking ovals and crosses.

“If you want an iconic door, you can’t just go to Home Depot and get it,” says Victor Burlingame, owner of Gold Sprint Coffee. Burlingame created the door design in Photoshop and emailed it to Gregg. “And he succeeded,” Burlingame says. “He’s artistic, but also incredibly gifted.”

On a sunny afternoon last spring, I stop at the Drop Metal workshop. It’s a funky space located in an old body shop in West Huntsville. To enter the side entrance of Drop Metal, a long silver metal door must first open. Inside the cluttered workshop is the industrial-looking equipment used by Gregg – including a plasma cutting machine, a router, and a welder. There’s also something called a brake, which bends the metal, as well as some large ovens that he uses to bake the powder coating onto the metal. Powder coating is a process that adds a color or finish to an object, similar to painting. However, unlike paint, it does not require time to dry.

A tool shelf inside Drop Metal’s workshop. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

Drop Metal has other tentacles than small business commissions. They design and manufacture metal numerals used for house address numbers, ordered nationwide through the Drop Metal website. For example, Gregg did the apartment numbers for a 30-story building in Delaware. They also produce an assortment of wall hangers (adorned with shapes of dinosaurs, rockets, dog paws, letters, etc.), paper towel holders, pendant lights, and other metal odds and ends.

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Metal letters at Drop Metal. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

Gregg, who is in his mid-30s, also makes furniture with a retro flair, including a “prism lounge” porch chair. He also creates works of art in metal, including sculptures with spiral patterns. He has also fabricated stainless steel globes for clients such as Huntsville International Airport and a high school in St. Louis.

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Drop metal. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

Making wall hangers and house numbers might not be sexy. But that revenue stream helps make Drop Metal financially viable and able to do the jobs that Gregg enjoys more, like custom signs, furniture, and commissioned artwork. Although Drop Metal’s online sales are already flat, they have more than tripled during the pandemic, says Gregg. “It just got crazy. I try not to do a lot of international stuff, but every week it’s almost every state (Drop Metal order). Last year totally changed the whole company.

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Drop metal. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

Gregg operates Drop Metal with the help of an employee, Chase Parks. Asked what he likes about his job, Parks, who is in his thirties, replies, “Just the different spectra. I mean, anything from creating artwork to simply marketing a product. It never ends and it’s always something different.

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Drop Metal’s Micah Gregg, left, and Chase Parks. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

Asked about his favorite materials, Gregg says he likes steel because it’s easy to make, recycle and afford. Aluminum, due to its machining properties. As for his penchant for weathered effects, he says in his laid-back drawl, “You have to trust rust.

On this day, Gregg wears a trucker cap, dark jeans and a gray T-shirt with a psychedelic logo on it. The store’s stereo plays acoustic noodles by the String Cheese Incident jam band. Nova, Gregg’s dog, a nice blue hooker, is lounging on the floor of the workshop. When he is not creating, Gregg is particularly interested in the maintenance of several bonsais.

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Drop metal. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

Growing up in Athens, Gregg loved BMX bikes and skateboarding. In high school, his father encouraged him to enroll in the vocational technology program. Gregg chose a specialization in welding. To fund the welding program, the students made utility trailers to sell, Gregg says.

One day, Gregg took scraps of sheet metal that the program didn’t want (because they were too thin to make trailers) and welded together a sculpture in the shape of a swordfish. A teacher saw this metal fish and offered him $100 for it. Gregg took this as a sign and quickly made another 50 metal fish, which he took to the beach in Gulf Shores and sold in his truck. He went home and used the money from those sales to buy a welder and a plasma cutter. He connected with local interior designers and boutiques and began making coffee tables, plant stands, custom curtain rods and other items for them.

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Drop Metal’s Micah Gregg and his dog. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

After high school, Gregg studied engineering at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, “but it was too rigid” for him. He enjoyed the art classes he took at UAH. But in the back of his mind he was concerned about the viability of earning a full-time living. artist. One of his UAH art instructors recommended that he check out Auburn University’s industrial design program. And Gregg did. “It’s like the creative side of product design,” says Gregg. “How things work, what materials to use, the machines to use to build it, all that stuff. I liked it. It’s almost as if you were being trained to become an inventor.

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The door outside Drop Metal. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

After graduating from Auburn in 2009, Gregg struggled to find work as a graphic designer. He started what became Drop Metal about a year later. At first he opened a shop in Prospect, Tennessee, where his parents had moved. It then moved its operations to the then fledgling Lowe Mill arts center, which has since grown into a sprawling facility. Exposure to Lowe Mill helped Gregg gain exposure, but a showcase was not the answer. He has been working at his current West Huntsville digs for about six years now.

Originally, he called his company Micah Gregg Designs. Then, on a trip up north to buy materials from a metal factory, he would rummage through the factory’s dumpster for scraps and small pieces of sheet metal. Someone saw it and shouted, “Are we selling drops now?” referring to parts that fall off the sheet during cutting. Gregg went home and checked online and the domain dropmetal.com was available. His business had a new name.

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Drop Metal’s Micah Gregg shows a drawing on his computer screen. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

The Drop Metal store is behind the house where Gregg resides, with a small courtyard between the two buildings. It’s a neat little mini complex he has here. Although the shop is full of metal, wood and tools, technology also plays a big role. Inside the house, outfitted with cabinets and furniture made by Gregg, he designs projects on an Apple desktop computer. “I have this process that allows me to model these complex shapes in 3D software,” says Gregg. “Then I can cut them here (in the store). It should be close to this shape, but you still have to do a lot of manual work to make it fit.

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Micah Gregg of Drop Metal. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

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