Lots of activity at the factory, and I can feel change in the air. The good news is that I'm sticking with my boundaries about shutting the factory on the weekends...well almost.
On Saturday I cut and filleted 18 aluminum tube sets - "L's" and "T's" for Catrikes, ICE, Trident and TerraTrikes, and a bunch of Sidemount kit "L's" for Cats. I took them over to John's and by Sunday he had 11 sets welded. Now I just need to polish them and install the end caps...and I have some inventory! I also got an order in to my supplier for more neck rest and sidemount kit stems, and some of the PDW Danger Zone 1 watt LED tail lights for the kits. Look for a great price on those tail lights.
Sunday here was for tuning up the lawnmower, fixing the flat on the tractor and getting it running, mowing the pasture, tossing the ball with Travis in the pasture and hanging out with Penni as she got the first garden beds ready and the first batch of peas, spinach and lettuce planted. Being outdoors now that the season's clearly changing has the most profound effect on my disposition...must be the smell of the earth and cut grass, but whatever it is, it's exactly what I've needed.
On Saturday a bundle of finished covers arrived from Zubin so I have a small supply of plain ones in addition to the embroidered covers she sent. And this morning Deana sent me a scan of the three latest embroidered fabric pieces that are now off to San Francisco and Zubin to be sewn into covers.
There are a bunch more embroidered covers in the works at the moment, either with Jason (the digitizer) or at Deana's getting embroidered. Here's one I just sent off to Deana...it's Kirk's, for his new monster-electrified Expedition.Momentarily I'm off to the shop to fabricate CURVEs, and this will ultimately be the source of real change. I enjoy making all these parts, I love the process of designing and testing new accessories and I really appreciate all the friends I've made along the way. What I'm getting pretty weary of is that this has become a more than full-time business where once I pay everyone else, leaves very little income for me. It's a crazy business model for any enterprise that isn't non-profit by intent. On top of this, in most cases I never seem to be able to respond quickly enough to inquiries, or because I'm sitting in front of the computer I'm not in the shop making parts or on the ferry for the mainland to pick up aluminum, foam, pvc or hardware. I've become way too practiced at making apologies.
So I'm researching still-local alternatives for automating the fabricating of more of the parts and then deciding how the pricing would have to change so the business generates some income for me. I still consider this micro-enterprise a case study in learning about manufacturing successfully, so I'm not angry but I am clear it's time to move to making some changes and then letting the market decide if I still offer a desirable product.
Noah and I have some preliminary designs for a new product that'd be fun to make and a total game-changer for us. But I need time to work on it, and the way the Finer Recliner runs now there just isn't any to spare. So stay tuned for the next chapter.