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Building Skills To Pay The Bills

Building Skills To Pay The Bills

Jeni Ruisch

The first LEGO kit Maxx Davidson remembers building was the Millennium Falcon. He was four years old, swooshing down his hallway Kessel Run. Never could he have guessed then that the answer to the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question could be answered the same today as it was all those years ago.

Short of hanging out with a Wookie all day, he couldn’t have imagined a more far-fetched notion than getting paid to play with Legos for a living. Now, he’s one of 23 people in the world who aren’t just tossing cliches when they say they’re “living the dream.”

Davidson, who has spent his fourth year at Akron University studying science education (as well as working in a Marion coffee shop), recently won a high-stakes, two day LEGO building competition called Brick Factor, which won him a full-time job as the Master Model Builder for the soon-to-open LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus. Seventy people entered into the competition, and the best builders from each challenge moved into the next round.

Between his job as a barista, spending his down time building homes for Habitat for Humanity, and counseling at summer camps for kids, Davidson has developed the teaching and construction savvy that make him perfect for the job of building up the skills and confidence of kids while helping them create whatever their imaginations desire.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever built from LEGOs? Do you remember the first thing?

The coolest thing I have ever built would have to be the scale model of my childhood home. It took about 50 hours and was a therapeutic way to reflect on the little details that were important to me growing up. The first set I remember building was the original Millennium Falcon when I was about four years old.

Was this the highest pressure job interview you’ve had?

Absolutely. Believe it or not, there weren’t thousands of people from around the country applying for a barista position in a Marion coffee house. Honestly though, my passion for LEGO really added to the pressure. I knew that this was my lifelong dream job and I didn’t want that opportunity to pass me by.

How did you prepare for the competition?

I knew that the competition would consist of basic LEGO bricks so I practiced some different ways to assemble smooth forms from the chunky pieces. To practice for the time constraint, I pulled cards from a game of Pictionary at my house and gave myself ten minutes to make whatever came up. This helped me improvise and think on the fly.

Why do you think LEGO has persisted in popularity for this long?

LEGO really has something for everyone. For those who want to use instructions, there are thousands of sets. For those who want to create something unique, there are infinite possibilities. And for everyone, there are incredible family-centered LEGOLAND amusement parks and LEGOLAND Discovery Centers around the world. LEGO connects families in a way few other toys can.

Be honest: how many times have you stepped on a LEGO, and how many times do you think it’s gonna happen at work?

Oh boy, if I had a nickel for every time, I’d probably have at least $4.35. It’s an occupational hazard, but I’m more than willing to take that risk.

LEGOLAND will open at Easton Town Center this fall. For more, visit


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