Most likely you're visiting to check out Finer Recliner CURVE neck rests, side mount handlebar bag kits, embroidery, tail lights and other recumbent accessories.

I make neck rests mainly but not exclusively for recumbent trikes. Each is 2" thick memory foam fill on a gently curved PVC base. The covers are breathable and water-resistant. Embroidery options are nearly limitless and allow you to truly personalize this part of your trike.

If you're interested in more information about Finer Recliner accessories, pictures, prices and how to order, you can reach me at stevesussman@earthlink.net.

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Good News.  For anyone wanting a full neck rest kit - I've got plenty of short throw stems, a couple of 1" "L" tubes and the shims (1 1/8" to 1") are on their way from the distributor.   Also, the first shipment of laser cut neck rest brackets have arrived and they look...well, alike.  And believe me that's great news.  I'm sure gonna miss the cutting, drilling and grinding.  

And here are some of the latest neck rests.  Thanks, Cara.

The not-great news.  Because of a death in our family I've got to leave, and so won't be able to make or ship neck rests, separately or in the full kits, before most likely the third week in September.

The mixed news.  
  • The good - by the end of September, and perhaps sooner, we should have a small inventory of CURVE neck rests, the ones purchased by almost all of our recent customers.  So anyone wanting a plain one should be able to get pretty quick delivery.   
  • The not-good - until we iron out some problems we're not going to be doing embroidery.  Hopefully this won't be for long.  I never would have imagined so much drama was possible in such a small business.  Foolish me.  People have been really happy with our neck rests and I won't do anything to compromise what we offer.  So we're gonna take a couple of weeks to iron out our remaining speed bumps.
And just in case mine isn't the only life with speed bumps at the moment, here's a little something to think about. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sA_0cvd1EUM

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Organization development consulting is the way I earn enough to pay my mortgage and indulge the 'Finer recliner' experiment.  If you're at all curious, my website, www.stevesussman-otc.com has loads of information about my practice.  

I've been thinking a lot about what I tell my clients regarding change, and what I wrote here in an earlier post...

"Change doesn't happen because you simply find a better way.  Change happens when the present way  becomes intolerable."

Even though I've made some serious changes since we started, till recently I've had a pretty high threshold for what's tolerable.   

Oh there have been some major changes - no more hallucinogenic glue, introducing the CURVE (which has become about 95% of all orders,) using memory foam fill exclusively, making full kits (stem, "L" tube towers and neck rest) for Catrikes with no neck rest hardware, offering some custom kits for Sun trikes,  modifying the mounting brackets to make them simpler and smaller, and offering all sorts of embroidery option.  

But it's clear that the critical next changes would be big ones, not just simple refinements:
  • Being able to cut way down on the time it takes to fill orders.  This demands major manufacturing changes, not just me working faster.
  • Offer simple hardware that'd allow the neck rests to fit a wider range of recumbent trikes and 2-wheelers.  This would mean having access to parts as a manufacturer or wholesaler rather than continuing to buy them over the counter at my local bike shop.  Note:  I do want to give my local shop a plug however.  Jeff, the owner of Vashon Island Bikes, routinely sells parts and accessories at or below on-line prices.  If you want a wonderful day of rural riding...with hills, a delightful ferry ride with terrific views, great places to eat afterwards, some neat B&B's if you decide to make a weekend of it, make sure to visit Jeff's shop in the village for maps, bike rentals, advice and great deals.
Well following the latest snafu's in filling orders quickly I'd finally had enough.  So here's the news:
  • All the CURVE brackets are now being laser cut by a custom fabrication shop.  The first 24 have been ordered and should be here shortly.  This will save me an enormous amount of time.  I'll continue to make the bases, and cut and glue the fill.  But with the new brackets I should be able to fill orders in days rather than weeks.  Sadly (I'm sure) the brackets will no longer look like they were nibbled by elves.
  • I now have a manufacturer's account with a bike parts and accessories distributor, so now I'm able to purchase short-throw mtb stems and shims for the full kits.  I have a dozen stems on the way.  This means I can offer quality stems at a very good price without having to scrounge around to buy a stem or two at a time...retail.  UPS just arrived!  Stems are here, shims on the way.
  •  We'll be pre-making batches of CURVE covers.  This means if you want one unadorned that will speed delivery as well.  We're still doing custom embroidery but it'll take a bit longer.  I don't want to discourage the personalizing with embroidery...we've been making some really nice covers for folks lately.
And there's more in the works, but I'm hoping this will be a great next step.  We may eventually transition from pvc and abs bases to all-metal, but for now we'll see how these changes go.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What I know about change is that people rarely stop what they’re doing merely because they discover a better way to do something.  They change only when the way they’re doing something at present becomes intolerable.  And “they” in this case is me. 

For the most part making the neck rests has been a wonderful experience.  I’ve met terrific people and made some new friends as I talked with, and shipped neck rests to, people round the world.  Feedback from customers that has felt incredibly good.  I’ve had amazing hallucinations with that first can of contact adhesive I used – I traveled to other planets and realities, most likely at the cost of more than a few brain cells.  I've enjoyed helping turn customers' ideas into finished embroidery. I’ve learned a ton about manufacturing and ten times that about collaboration as Zubin, Cara and I slowly figured out how to make this work while at the same time nurturing what really matters…our friendship.

And then there’s the part that hasn’t been so great:
  • I’m embarrassed by continually apologizing for long wait times.  Trying to maintain a consulting practice during the day means long nights in the shop.  There just aren’t enough hours in each day. 
  • That first can of adhesive.
  • Making and fitting the steel brackets by hand takes hours, and the process is imprecise…especially in the winter when I’m working in an unheated shop.
  • I discovered belatedly that the foam supplier couldn’t control the density of one of the fill materials I was using so I ended up paying for a batch that would have made better clouds than neck rests.
  • Its been next to impossible to get mtb stems at a reasonable price for the full kits.  And having to buy them retail has made this even worse.
  • And then on top of everything else Zubin decided to move back to San Francisco, so now we’re mailing stuff back and forth, which has slowed things even more.
When I couldn’t find the energy to write in this blog for over a month I decided the situation, finally, was intolerable.  It was either fill the current orders and then close up shop, or start doing things very differently.  Since there's plenty more I can learn and more I'd like to try, I'm choosing Option B.

So, here's what "intolerable" has inspired.  I've sent drawings to Puget Sound fabricators for estimates on manufacturing the brackets for the CURVE and ROLL.  

A leading bicycle parts and accessories distributor has approved my opening an account, so now I have reliable wholesale access to the stems needed for the full kits.

Neck rests and kits are waiting for covers.  Customer designs will be embroidered in the next couple of days, sent off to San Francisco to be sewn, put on the neck rests and shipped...finally.