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Doing work for other shops

antoniog

Plastic
Joined
Nov 4, 2021
Wow. There has been fantastic discussion here about how all of this would work out and what one would have to think about in terms of making it on their own. I do have an idea for a product (precision coffee tamper with some nice looking wood. Find the right hipster coffee shop and you can get $150 a pop easy) and fortunately that doesn’t require an enormous amount of dedication and labor into creating. So that lends this kind of product to being able to be done on my off time realistically. I’ll probably stick to my day job and work at this side project for the time being until things hopefully take off and coupled with good timing, would make a relatively easier transition to running my own shop with my own products. If it doesn’t work out then I’ll go to job shopping. Thanks for all of the insight I got to see in this thread!
 

Doug

Diamond
Joined
Dec 16, 2002
Location
Pacific NW
.................... I do have an idea for a product (precision coffee tamper with some nice looking wood. Find the right hipster coffee shop and you can get $150 a pop easy) and fortunately that doesn’t require an enormous amount of dedication and labor into creating. So that lends this kind of product to being able to be done on my off time realistically. .....................................
I don't even know what a coffee tamper is. What I do know is, if a coffee tamper is a necessary item they'll already have a couple. The big question is how would you market it? $150 easy, yeah right. You'd need a network of sales people who already market to hipster coffee houses and will want 50+% commission on sales.

I saw this naive attitude when "inventors" came into my shop for help in getting working prototypes. I call it self-delusion.




 

LOTT

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 28, 2016
I don't even know what a coffee tamper is. What I do know is, if a coffee tamper is a necessary item they'll already have a couple. The big question is how would you market it? $150 easy, yeah right. You'd need a network of sales people who already market to hipster coffee houses and will want 50+% commission on sales.

I saw this naive attitude when "inventors" came into my shop for help in getting working prototypes. I call it self-delusion.

Maybe, maybe not. That type of product lends itself to online sales, and the customer already having one doesn't mean anything.

Look at the custom knife makers- you think a single one of their customers actually needs another knife? To cut things? But they still buy another $700 folding knife, because that custom knife is cool.
 

Garwood

Diamond
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Location
Oregon
I don't even know what a coffee tamper is. What I do know is, if a coffee tamper is a necessary item they'll already have a couple. The big question is how would you market it? $150 easy, yeah right. You'd need a network of sales people who already market to hipster coffee houses and will want 50+% commission on sales.

I saw this naive attitude when "inventors" came into my shop for help in getting working prototypes. I call it self-delusion.

I'm not going to say you're wrong about a coffee tamper, but your attitude about products is all wrong and it sucks.

I don't think you know the first thing about starting/running a product based shop, but because you used to make parts you like to think you do.

Marketing is not rocket surgery. And I gotta be honest here, I find most good ideas are pretty damn easy to sell without working that hard. Have you ever promoted your product with Youtube videos? Done a press release?

I've never been to the SEMA show, but one year, I had about 30 phone calls from guys AT THE SHOW wanting to buy one of my products that was on a SEMA vehicle. I didn't even know my parts were at SEMA. None of the magazine articles about my parts have ever been instigated by me. Recently I was buying parts for one of my vehicles from a big aftermarket automotive retailer and the sales guy was one of the higher ups that day. He asked what I do and before you know it they're buying two of my product lines in quantity.

Hell, I hosted an event at my shop for a huge non-profit I believe in that does really good things. When they asked me what I wanted the press release to say I asked them not to do one, I didn't do it for that. Turned out people involved in the event were into some of my stuff and they actually helped me grow sales exponentially just by talking me up to others.

The trick is not to have one idea and put everything you got into maximizing that one thing, it's to make 10, 50 or 500 different things. Some will limp along while some are big sellers. You never know until you try.

IMO, the best quality you can have for a product business mindset is to be motivated to prove those wrong that think your products are going to fail.

The worst approach possible would be the "That idea will never work because of all these reasons...."
 

FamilyTradition

Aluminum
Joined
Feb 24, 2018
Location
Greenfield, Mass
The trick is not to have one idea and put everything you got into maximizing that one thing, it's to make 10, 50 or 500 different things. Some will limp along while some are big sellers. You never know until you try.

I'm not an expert in the business/product development world myself, but I have seen historical examples that prove this very point (late 19th/early 20th century). And we are talking about a time where the markets weren't nearly as saturated as they are today, so they had a competitive advantage of being the first/only ones to have said product.

Ask your dad or grandpa about Millers Falls Tools and then about Chauncey Wing and Sons. Likelihood is they will still have a Millers Falls plane or screwdriver kicking around somewhere, while they will go "Who the f is Chauncey Wing?"

Both started around the same time in the same geographic area, yet one company became a household name, while the other faded off into obscurity.

Millers Falls Tools had something like 54 different kinds of just bit braces in their catalog at one point in time - not to mention all the other tools, planes, screwdrivers, hacksaw blades, they will sell you the frames too, and an electric drill, and the drill bits to go with it, etc etc. And they started by making and selling a machine for wringing out your wash (back in the days before we had all this fancy indoor plumbing). Got out of that while they still had their shirts and diversified the products they manufactured.

Chauncey Wing (or his son's, can't remember who filed the patent), invented a nifty little tool for attaching pre printed address labels to envelopes. Made a good little business around it for a few years, but since they didn't make (and obviously didn't want to or couldn't make) anything else, and when demand for their mailing label tool dropped off, they just closed the factory. Through luck and preservation efforts in the last few years, the building still stands, with all the machinery still inside, still set up to make these things, over 100 years later. Such is the story with a lot of manufacturers that failed to innovate and diversify their product lines, except history wasn't as kind to their buildings or machinery. I wouldn't count on anyone making a museum or preserving the facility of my failed business.
IMO, the best quality you can have for a product business mindset is to be motivated to prove those wrong that think your products are going to fail.

The worst approach possible would be the "That idea will never work because of all these reasons...."
Again, I am no business expert, but being stubborn as a mule and reasonably confident are two qualities I can see helping in that regard.
 

latheman78

Cast Iron
Joined
May 28, 2022
Location
Southern Ca Mtns.
Wow. There has been fantastic discussion here about how all of this would work out and what one would have to think about in terms of making it on their own. I do have an idea for a product (precision coffee tamper with some nice looking wood. Find the right hipster coffee shop and you can get $150 a pop easy) and fortunately that doesn’t require an enormous amount of dedication and labor into creating. So that lends this kind of product to being able to be done on my off time realistically. I’ll probably stick to my day job and work at this side project for the time being until things hopefully take off and coupled with good timing, would make a relatively easier transition to running my own shop with my own products. If it doesn’t work out then I’ll go to job shopping. Thanks for all of the insight I got to see in this thread!
No way are you getting $150 for a tamper unless it has a tactical design while being made from medical grade stainless steel, and military grade aluminum billet.
 

Doug

Diamond
Joined
Dec 16, 2002
Location
Pacific NW
I'm not going to say you're wrong about a coffee tamper, but your attitude about products is all wrong and it sucks.

I don't think you know the first thing about starting/running a product based shop, but because you used to make parts you like to think you do.

Marketing is not rocket surgery. And I gotta be honest here, I find most good ideas are pretty damn easy to sell without working that hard. Have you ever promoted your product with Youtube videos? Done a press release?

I've never been to the SEMA show, but one year, I had about 30 phone calls from guys AT THE SHOW wanting to buy one of my products that was on a SEMA vehicle. I didn't even know my parts were at SEMA. None of the magazine articles about my parts have ever been instigated by me. Recently I was buying parts for one of my vehicles from a big aftermarket automotive retailer and the sales guy was one of the higher ups that day. He asked what I do and before you know it they're buying two of my product lines in quantity.

Hell, I hosted an event at my shop for a huge non-profit I believe in that does really good things. When they asked me what I wanted the press release to say I asked them not to do one, I didn't do it for that. Turned out people involved in the event were into some of my stuff and they actually helped me grow sales exponentially just by talking me up to others.

The trick is not to have one idea and put everything you got into maximizing that one thing, it's to make 10, 50 or 500 different things. Some will limp along while some are big sellers. You never know until you try.

IMO, the best quality you can have for a product business mindset is to be motivated to prove those wrong that think your products are going to fail.

The worst approach possible would be the "That idea will never work because of all these reasons...."
Garwood, I do have experience selling my own products, probably far more than you.

Back when I was in my late twenties I left a relatively high paying engineering job to start a product based business with niche market items (anything is possible when you're young with no family financial responsibilities). That business supported 4 of us, wife and two kids (born after the business was started). We had a reasonable middle class lifestyle. The business ran out of my owned shop building which was too small for the business to expand. I decided to let the business die, sell off the equipment and move onto machining/engineering which would bring in more dollars per square foot of shop space. As a last resort I listed the business for sale and found a buyer who qualified for an SBA loan. For a quick sale I got $90k (which totally amazed me). And then onto the machining busine$$.

I've been interested in your postings because you always seemed so sure about what you were doing. You talked about buying old CNC machines for pennies on the dollar as if anyone who didn't was stupid. I went in the opposite direction, bought new ( buy a new machine and make parts tomorrow, buy old and maybe make parts in a month or two, if at all).

Recently you talked about the great cash cow making repair parts for heavy machinery because the parts weren't available due to supply chain issues. I was critical about that. Now you talk about SEMA (auto parts). The fact is, anybody with more than two nickels to rub together wouldn't go anywhere near those markets, I know my liability insurance wouldn't cover my ass. I'm not willing to take the financial risks you apparently are.

A couple years ago I came up with a neat little accessory for a Dremel tool. Verifying thru my insurance carrier, it turned out the insurance per unit sold would be higher than my anticipated selling price per unit. That's just the sad way things are in our litigious society.

In short, I'd say most of your "make your own product" stuff is nonsense.
 
Last edited:

Garwood

Diamond
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Location
Oregon
Garwood, I do have experience selling my own products, probably far more than you.

Back when I was in my late twenties I left a relatively high paying engineering job to start a product based business with niche market items (anything is possible when you're young with no family financial responsibilities). That business supported 4 of us, wife and two kids (born after the business was started). We had a reasonable middle class lifestyle. The business ran out of my owned shop building which was too small for the business to expand. I decided to let the business die, sell off the equipment and move onto machining/engineering which would bring in more dollars per square foot of shop space. As a last resort I listed the business for sale and found a buyer who qualified for an SBA loan. For a quick sale I got $90k (which totally amazed me). And then onto the machining busine$$.

I've been interested in your postings because you always seemed so sure about what you were doing. You talked about buying old CNC machines for pennies on the dollar as if anyone who didn't was stupid. I went in the opposite direction, bought new ( buy a new machine and make parts tomorrow, buy old and maybe make parts in a month or two, if at all).

Recently you talked about the great cash cow making repair parts for heavy machinery because the parts weren't available due to supply chain issues. I was critical about that. Now you talk about SEMA (auto parts). The fact is, anybody with more than two nickels to rub together wouldn't go anywhere near those markets, I know my liability insurance wouldn't cover my ass. I'm not willing to take the financial risks you apparently are.

A couple years ago I came up with a neat little accessory for a Dremel tool. Verifying thru my insurance carrier, it turned out the insurance per unit sold would be higher than my anticipated selling price per unit. That's just the sad way things are in our litigious society.

In short, I'd say most of your "make your own product" stuff is nonsense.
Cool. You're welcome to come by the shop anytime to help you grasp this nonsense.

I don't understand how your distaste for litigation has anything to do with my business choices. That's your choice. Your perceived risk, not mine.

I have never, ever said anyone who didn't buy used CNC's is stupid. That would be a stupid statement to make. However, I have stated repeatedly that buying used Haas equipment at market value is a stupid thing to do compared to buying premium used machine tools. There's a lot of dumb perceptions out there. There are lots of high quality used machines available for very reasonable prices if you look.

Now you're saying the entire aftermarket automotive parts industry is full of fools putting their necks out too far? OK.
 

LOTT

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 28, 2016
In short, I'd say most of your "make your own product" stuff is nonsense.

Just out of curiosity, how do you explain all the small shops across the country making their own products? We don't exist, or we're all just flirting with lawsuit induced bankruptcy?

Just because your experience wasn't good doesn't mean someone else can't make a go of it.
 

Doug

Diamond
Joined
Dec 16, 2002
Location
Pacific NW
Just out of curiosity, how do you explain all the small shops across the country making their own products? We don't exist, or we're all just flirting with lawsuit induced bankruptcy?

Just because your experience wasn't good doesn't mean someone else can't make a go of it.
My experience was good. As I said, my owned shop building was too small to expand the business. And since I already owned a shop space close to home I wasn't interested in renting a bigger space which wasn't so conveniently located near our home.

Yeah, there're shops all across the country making their own products. Most are involved in non-risky products. The coffee tamper product would fit in the non-risky category. My product based business was also non-risky and went through 3 owners until it finally shut down for good several years ago. None of the owners ever should have been in business for themselves, they didn't seem to have any clues or common sense about running a business.

My criticism of "make your products" was directed at Garwood after he suggested I knew nothing about getting products to market. Garwood is either BS'ing or is flirting with lawsuit induced bankruptcy by getting involved in risky fields (heavy machinery replacement parts and after-market auto). I asked him previously how he insured himself/business with no response. Some people seem to think an LLC protects them, which is total nonsense. Of course, if you don't have substantial assets that's the best protection against lawsuits.
 

latheman78

Cast Iron
Joined
May 28, 2022
Location
Southern Ca Mtns.
Cool. You're welcome to come by the shop anytime to help you grasp this nonsense.

I don't understand how your distaste for litigation has anything to do with my business choices. That's your choice. Your perceived risk, not mine.

I have never, ever said anyone who didn't buy used CNC's is stupid. That would be a stupid statement to make. However, I have stated repeatedly that buying used Haas equipment at market value is a stupid thing to do compared to buying premium used machine tools. There's a lot of dumb perceptions out there. There are lots of high quality used machines available for very reasonable prices if you look.

Now you're saying the entire aftermarket automotive parts industry is full of fools putting their necks out too far? OK.
Are all your products aftermarket automotive?
 

Garwood

Diamond
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Location
Oregon
My experience was good. As I said, my owned shop building was too small to expand the business. And since I already owned a shop space close to home I wasn't interested in renting a bigger space which wasn't so conveniently located near our home.

Yeah, there're shops all across the country making their own products. Most are involved in non-risky products. The coffee tamper product would fit in the non-risky category. My product based business was also non-risky and went through 3 owners until it finally shut down for good several years ago. None of the owners ever should have been in business for themselves, they didn't seem to have any clues or common sense about running a business.

My criticism of "make your products" was directed at Garwood after he suggested I knew nothing about getting products to market. Garwood is either BS'ing or is flirting with lawsuit induced bankruptcy by getting involved in risky fields (heavy machinery replacement parts and after-market auto). I asked him previously how he insured himself/business with no response. Some people seem to think an LLC protects them, which is total nonsense. Of course, if you don't have substantial assets that's the best protection against lawsuits.

You nailed it. I'm making the devil's parts for the litigious masses.

I stand by my statements that your advice relative to products is bad.
 

john.k

Diamond
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Location
Brisbane Qld Australia
When I sold someone a production (as opposed to hobby) machine ,I used to drop in on them about six months after the sale ,to see what they were doing with it......sometimes I d get an earfull,but not often.......When I worked for Palms Tractor yard,they were a lot more blatant selling stuff that was about to blow up,and buyers often would have a whinge about a converter or final drives or summat,but never seemed really p***d,not homicidally so.
 

RC Mech

Stainless
Joined
Jul 21, 2014
Location
Ontario, Canada
Wow. There has been fantastic discussion here about how all of this would work out and what one would have to think about in terms of making it on their own. I do have an idea for a product (precision coffee tamper with some nice looking wood. Find the right hipster coffee shop and you can get $150 a pop easy) and fortunately that doesn’t require an enormous amount of dedication and labor into creating....
There was a guy in the South Bend forum, CoonCatBob who showcased his espresso tampers made on a SB. Not for retail, IIRC for his own use.

This is going back maybe 12 years ago on PM.
 

Doug

Diamond
Joined
Dec 16, 2002
Location
Pacific NW
You nailed it. I'm making the devil's parts for the litigious masses.

I stand by my statements that your advice relative to products is bad.

It isn't litigious masses you need to worry about, it's what used to be called "ambulance chasers". Now, I believe, they're called personal injury lawyers.
 

Mathew Molk

Plastic
Joined
Mar 1, 2021
You have experience with this? Running a job shop and developing/manufacturing/marketing/selling/supporting products simultaneously?

My advice is pick one or the other. Do both and neither endeavor will amount to its potential.

Don't quit your day job.
Just like that Huh? Develop a product and start selling it. Maybe somebody did it. Maybe even 2, but for every guy that has tried for decades to get a product he can sell, there are 1000s that went under before they made a dime.

Go do a man's work as a job shop and if on weekends and after school you want to tinker around dive on. Somehow it seems you have been conned into thinking you cannot make money with a job shop. Nothing could be further from the truth. ,,,, And for starts get a Bridgport and a lathe and maybe a TIG machine and put an ad in Craiglist and do repair work. Then as time goes by (And money comes in) go after bigger and bigger jobs.

Just the point being that anybody that thinks they are going to star out the soze of Suburban Tool has to be on drugs. Start small and don't over extend. --- YOu know all those very low hour machines at the auctions come from somewhere, and it's not from the shops that have been in business for years and years.
 
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neilho

Titanium
Joined
Mar 23, 2006
Location
Vershire, Vermont
....Go do a man's work as a job shop and if on weekends and after school you want to tinker around dive on. Somehow it seems you have been conned into thinking you cannot make money with a job shop.
A man's work? Kinda harsh, and that's certainly not the way I understood Garwood's post. There are those that prefer making other people's stuff and those that prefer making their own.
Just the point being that anybody that thinks they are going to star out the soze of Suburban Tool has to be on drugs. Start small and don't over extend.

Agreed, no matter which the OP chooses.
 

Mathew Molk

Plastic
Joined
Mar 1, 2021
Garwood, I do have experience selling my own products, probably far more than you.

Back when I was in my late twenties I left a relatively high paying engineering job to start a product based business with niche market items (anything is possible when you're young with no family financial responsibilities). That business supported 4 of us, wife and two kids (born after the business was started). We had a reasonable middle class lifestyle. The business ran out of my owned shop building which was too small for the business to expand. I decided to let the business die, sell off the equipment and move onto machining/engineering which would bring in more dollars per square foot of shop space. As a last resort I listed the business for sale and found a buyer who qualified for an SBA loan. For a quick sale I got $90k (which totally amazed me). And then onto the machining busine$$.

I've been interested in your postings because you always seemed so sure about what you were doing. You talked about buying old CNC machines for pennies on the dollar as if anyone who didn't was stupid. I went in the opposite direction, bought new ( buy a new machine and make parts tomorrow, buy old and maybe make parts in a month or two, if at all).

Recently you talked about the great cash cow making repair parts for heavy machinery because the parts weren't available due to supply chain issues. I was critical about that. Now you talk about SEMA (auto parts). The fact is, anybody with more than two nickels to rub together wouldn't go anywhere near those markets, I know my liability insurance wouldn't cover my ass. I'm not willing to take the financial risks you apparently are.

A couple years ago I came up with a neat little accessory for a Dremel tool. Verifying thru my insurance carrier, it turned out the insurance per unit sold would be higher than my anticipated selling price per unit. That's just the sad way things are in our litigious society.

In short, I'd say most of your "make your own product" stuff is nonsense.
How true, how true. - Everybody who thinks they are going to "invent" something and make a million dollars is kidding themselves.

The most profit per item I ever made was back in the early 80s. I had a production welding shop making A-frames for Myers Snow Plow. - I also did pretty well welding heat exchanges for Dornback Furnace. ,,, Bottom line I made a damn good living for over 40 years and never made and sold my own product until after I retired. Now, If I sell them great. If not,,, who cares? It's more of a hobby then a business to me now. (Just keep working because I was at it so long I don't know not to)

I do see a very sucessful company called "Rack-a-Tiers" who make a simular product line to some of the stuff I make and sell,,,,,I do not push the marketing (because I don't want to end up working 60+ hours a week again but it tool Rack-a-Tiers over 20 years to get "fully assembled" and I'm sure to this day the brains there think 40 hours a week is a part time job.

Get woke, go broke? Try to start a business from the ground up on a product you "invented" and you will have a whole new meaning of going broke. - You got a better chance of hitting the lottery.
 








 
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