This Minion watches over a Bay Area stretch of I-880

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Next time you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Interstate 880 near Exit 29 in the East Bay, do yourself a favor: keep your eyes peeled for the Minion that lives. on the roof.

Just 3 feet tall but weighing close to 100 pounds, the #880minion peeks over the wall at the southbound freeway with his mouth frozen in a permanent grimace. His presence has been a delicious Easter egg for Bay Area newcomers and regular commuters alike since 2015. But he also raises a lot of questions: Why is he standing next to a crashed rocket? Why is he holding a banana? And – above all – who the hell put it up there?

Minion sculpture on the roof of Rasco Manufacturing in Hayward, July 11, 2022.

Lance Yamamoto/Special for SFGATE

The answer is hidden beyond a chain-link fence at the end of West Sunset Boulevard in Hayward, where Rasco Manufacturing, a third-generation fabrication shop and sheet metal company, has operated since 1973.

Dressed in a tattered gray Carhartt t-shirt and camo cargo shorts, owner Keith Lang squints in the blazing afternoon sun before stooping into his shop and pointing to something on the shelf above a “Fight Club” poster.

Keith Lang at Rasco Manufacturing in Hayward on July 11, 2022.

Keith Lang at Rasco Manufacturing in Hayward on July 11, 2022.

Lance Yamamoto/Special for SFGATE

This is a small plush Minion that a customer won at the county fair and was promptly delivered to him – one of many tokens from the movie “Despicable Me”, which introduced Minions to the world, which he received over the years. In the bathroom, a Minion soap dispenser is propped up on the sink. He has an array of Minion McDonald’s toys adorning his kitchen table at home.

He offers a helpless smile.

“A lot of people think of me as ‘the Minion guy,’ or a little obsessed,” Lang, 43, says. “I’m not, but I like it. It’s a fun thing.

Details of Ras-Co Manufacturing Co. Located in Hayward Ca, July 11, 2022.

Details of Ras-Co Manufacturing Co. Located in Hayward Ca, July 11, 2022.

Lance Yamamoto/Special for SFGATE

Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” blares from static radio as he drags a metal folding chair across the concrete floor, then takes a seat next to his longtime friend William Roccaforte, 38, and his ex-stepfather, Scott Richhoff, 69. They easily enter into conversation, talking to each other and exchanging pleasantries with the cadence of schoolyard taunts.


Lang started working in the family business at the age of 15 and took over the shop about ten years ago. He spends six days a week there with his modest team, working on a variety of custom welding projects.

There’s the cherry-red Radio Flyer car in the corner that they’re upgrading with a booster seat for a customer’s daughter. A shed outside is filled with motorcycle parts and arcade cabinets. The three men burst out laughing as they discuss a model R2-D2 that another customer is rolling around in his living room; the shop recently designed a battery to power it. And on the road to Danville, they’ve almost finished building a tree house, which will have a suspension bridge and a full bar inside.

They also do odd jobs for big clients: A metal wedge made by Lang is currently in space aboard a Motorola satellite, and he’s already built a metal trellis to be decorated with flowers for an exhibit at the de Young museum. .

“We’re just weird guys,” Richhoff said, smiling through his messy white beard. “What we do is we take your idea, your little dream, and we round it up to what’s possible. So you come whimsically, then we knock down the edges.

“I have a ‘Kill the Zombies’ sign over there,” Lang said. “What kind of art is this?”

Joshua Bote/SFGATE

Despite the attention to detail and creative workarounds required by the concerts, Lang protests that he does not make art and would not call himself an artist. “I have a ‘Kill the Zombies’ sign over there,” he said. “What kind of art is this?” (Whenever Lang is distracted, Roccaforte leans forward to gently mock his friend and insists he is absolutely an artist.)

With low overhead, the shop is able to choose what it wants to undertake, including some of the most offbeat jobs.

“I did [branding irons] for humans. I made S&M masks,” Lang says. “A lot of stores, you call and ask something like that, they say, ‘What? We don’t do that. I’m like, ‘Get down!’ “

Lang doesn’t like to advertise, insisting that people hear about his shop primarily through word of mouth. That’s why the #880minion just has a hashtag for people to share the joy with each other – not his company logo.

“I didn’t want to do it, you know, ‘Look at us.’ The Minion isn’t there to promote anything,” he says. “He’s just up there doing his thing. He’s for everyone.

The Minion was conceived as a sort of ode to the sculpture of Snoopy chasing the Red Baron across the Emeryville Estuary, which Lang was obsessed with as a child. He remembers carefully scanning the passing landscape from the car window until he spotted it.

Details of Ras-Co Manufacturing Co. Located in Hayward Ca, July 11, 2022.

Details of Ras-Co Manufacturing Co. Located in Hayward Ca, July 11, 2022.


Lance Yamamoto/Special for SFGATE
Sculpture made by Keith Lang at Ras-Co Manufacturing Co. Located in Hayward Ca, July 11, 2022.

Sculpture made by Keith Lang at Ras-Co Manufacturing Co. Located in Hayward Ca, July 11, 2022.


Lance Yamamoto/Special for SFGATE
Details of Ras-Co Manufacturing Co. Located in Hayward Ca, July 11, 2022.

Details of Ras-Co Manufacturing Co. Located in Hayward Ca, July 11, 2022.


Lance Yamamoto/Special for SFGATE
Ernie Purssell Memorial Speedway tow truck at Ras-Co Manufacturing Co. located in Hayward Ca, July 11, 2022.

Ernie Purssell Memorial Speedway tow truck at Ras-Co Manufacturing Co. located in Hayward Ca, July 11, 2022.


Lance Yamamoto/Special for SFGATE


The interior and exterior of Rasco Manufacturing. (Lance Yamamoto / Special for SFGATE)

“It was like a little landmark,” he says. “As soon as you saw it, you knew you were almost home.”

He and his friends tossed around a few ideas for a rooftop sculpture, including an imperial walker. But one day, he was rounding sheet metal into domes for another project, and the Tic Tac shape sparked an idea: he could make a Minion.

Lang spent four or five months tinkering in his spare time, rolling 50 4-by-10-foot pieces of sheet metal into a chunky little body.

“It’s a big piece,” he says with a certain fatherly tenderness. “A very solid thing.”

Other sheets were used to make pleated suits, in which Lang lifted the Minion’s body. He finished it off with some wispy hair, made of sharpened round bars. The Minion’s front chest pocket, adorned with a lower case “R” for Rasco instead of a “G” for Gru, is the only association with Lang’s business.

“We need to change a bit. Copyright laws,” he joked.

When the job was done, he and Roccaforte used a forklift to hoist the Minion, pants and all, 22 feet high and onto the roof. Then they screwed the hashtag and the letters onto the eaves of the building.

“That was before TikTok and all that,” Lang says. “Instagram was getting big, and everything was hashtag this, hashtag that. Hashtag YOLO. So we thought we’d give it a name that people could actually search for it with.

The Minion sculpture overlooks I-880 on the rooftop of Rasco Manufacturing in Hayward, July 19, 2022.
The Minion sculpture overlooks I-880 on the rooftop of Rasco Manufacturing in Hayward, July 19, 2022.Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

The response was almost instantaneous. Dozens of photos of amused motorists appeared on social media with the hashtag, and people who knew Lang stopped by the store to see her new creation up close. In the first week, about 15 or 20 foreigners also showed up.

“It sometimes attracts the most interesting people,” Lang says. “The children come in. In fact, many older people seem to quit. There have been quite a few men over 60 who have asked about this, which I find rather odd. It’s an eclectic group. Some are nice. Some are crackpots. But I agree with that too.

A few people even asked if they could buy the Minion.

“They always open with ‘What do you want for that?’ It’s a landmark, man. I’m not really money driven, so it’s not for sale,” Lang says.

Surprisingly, Lang hasn’t noticed an increase in visitors since the franchise’s latest Despicable Me movie was released earlier this month. He blissfully ignores the #gentleminions trend and the Minion Assault memes (“Internet is sometimes blurry”). He admits he hasn’t seen the new movie himself yet, but he’ll get used to it.

Keith Lang at Rasco Manufacturing in Hayward on July 11, 2022.

Keith Lang at Rasco Manufacturing in Hayward on July 11, 2022.

Lance Yamamoto/Special for SFGATE

At some point, Lang plans to disassemble the Minion for a new paint job. Maybe he will add solar lights so drivers can see him at night as well. But otherwise, Lang doesn’t plan to change anything about the low-key hunk or the company he oversees.

“I won’t grow up anytime soon,” he laughs.

SFGATE Associate Editor Joshua Bote contributed to this report.

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