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Short/Long term future of manual/repair shops?

Garwood

Active member
Since this supply chain debacle started I've seen a large increase in repair work. I figured that was the root of it and didn't think much further. Sunday I got a breakdown job from a mobile tech I have never met before. After I did the job (paid my mortgage in five hours) he picked it up at 9 at night and couldn't stop expressing how grateful he was that there's somebody left doing this stuff. I have certainly noticed that all the big manual shops around me that I knew about have closed up over the past 5 years, but I figured that equipment went somewhere local and what work is left is still getting done somewhere.

Or is it? This guy made the case that the owners of the last two capable fix anything shops decided to retire during the pandemic and there was no emergency breakdown fix anything kind of shops left within a days drive. There are huge supply chain problems, lots of parts are impossible to get right now, but he didn't think that was the biggest problem. He thinks it's that the demand is about the same, but the supply of good shops is gone.

If you do repair work are you seeing the same balls-to-the-wall don't care about price climate?

If so, is it supply chain based, or as the guy wanted me to believe, is it that so many good old shops have finally closed that there's an abundance of work?
 

PeteM

Active member
Somewhat along the lines of Digger's comment . . .

Our basic economic philosophy has been that every company and every country's economy has to keep growing. One feature of that has been planned obsolescence; just throwing away products rather than repairing them. Now that most every product has software in it -- and the makers of that software have gotten legislation that makes it basically illegal to attempt to modify or repair it -- more and more stuff gets thrown away. It's not just consumer electronics. Appliances that used to last decades might now last a few years before becoming uneconomic to repair.

Short term that means repair places are going out of business. Long term, nothing can grow (like we expect our GDP) 3% forever. Long long term, we're going to have to get back to repairing and upgrading stuff, rather than throwing it away in landfills.

As far as what impacts PM types and the near term -- I'd think you'd need to specialize in repairing some high value equipment still capable of doing good work. Agricultural and construction equipment as examples.
 

Doug

Active member
When I started a job shop business 30 some years ago there were 6 storefront machine shops within 5 or so miles. They've all been gone for 15 or more years. Those did all sorts of repair, machining, welding and so on. All manual equipment. Most had older owners who retired, but the problem was more of not being able to make a decent living doing repairs. Also added to the problem was value of land they were on. Three of the shops I knew well are now restaurants.

Couple months ago I had to hire a high dollar rigger to move a CNC mill from one building to another a 100 feet away, Took them all of 45 minutes. Two guys with a minimum charge of 4 hour$. They were booking three to four weeks out and managed to squeeze me in. They said they've never been so busy, a combination of business closings and smaller shops being bought up by bigger outfits. I've been retired for 5 years and in that time I see 4 of my long term customers have been bought up and one is actively for sale.

Gar', you mentioned paying your mortgage on a five hour job. No idea what your mortgage is. Did you gouge the customer on the repair because it was Sunday and an emergency?
 

Garwood

Active member
I'd think you'd need to specialize in repairing some high value equipment still capable of doing good work. Agricultural and construction equipment as examples.


I don't believe this has much to do with planned obsolescence or the way many things are built to be disposable.

I'm talking HBM and larger lathe work. Welding heavy things. You know, the stuff that most repair type shops do.

I don't make a living doing repair work, but I have supplemented my product-based business with it since the beginning as I enjoy the work. You could say I have a lot of capacity for repair work that I have tried to sell, but never been very busy with. Recently repair work has become a big deal and I'm wondering if this is a short term spike or if this might continue because both the supply chain explanation and the "last shop standing" explanation make sense to me, but planned obsolescence does not. That is not a factor.
 

Garwood

Active member
Did you gouge the customer on the repair because it was Sunday and an emergency?

Cutting my time with my family at the pumpkin patch short to make a shaft for a $10m project that keeps 9 guys from being unemployed was worth $300/hr to me and them.
 

standardparts

Active member
"Short/Long term future of manual/repair shops?"

Depends on the area and how much manufacturing or other users of heavy equipment remain. Manufacturing leaves--there goes the infrastructure that supported it. Numbers wise not as many small farms anymore--big operators probably utilize manufacturer service agreements. Oil/energy industry the same. Can take a ride in any city in South East Wisconsin and see that there is a shit ton of empty industrial buildings. The need for support shops has been gone a long time. Need rigger services it usually comes out Milwaukee--nothing local it seems.
 

Turbowerks

Member
Im in the middle of ag country, i have seen this for a few years… and it’s getting more extreme. I have a very capable shop with a good mix of services. We have a few manufacturers in the area but the nobody has one, can’t get one or fix it has become increasingly more common. When the ag sector has lots of disposable income i stay busy with their toys so to speak, when its not flush with money the old broke equipment must get pulled out of the grove so to speak, lots of repairs. Having come from that background its sometimes hard to charge what you should.
Just got done repairing 3 turbos for a bus company that they couldn’t get replacements for 12 to 18 weeks. Machined down compressor wheels from other apps and rebalanced the assemblys to get them going. I have a feeling there is going to be alot more of this stuff before its done


When I find it I don’t need it
When I need it I can’t find it!
 

Cyclotronguy

Active member
Same deal, there was a freighter that could't get underway with a ventalator down. I was the only guy who answered a phone call. All they needed was a motor end bell sleeved. EZ money and they were delighted.
 

winger

Active member
The place I retired from didn't replace me.(maintenance machinist). We were considered overhead even though a lot of the time I believe I was making parts for less than purchased price. They cut most of the machinists in all the other plants too.
Now I work 2 days a week for a friend and allot of his work comes from plants that do not do repairs in house any more. Usually rush jobs too.

For 4 weeks I had every day off I couldn't get motivated to do much at home. Personality flaw? Earliest memories are working on my dads farm so this is a piece of cake. 2 on 5 off and only 8 hrs now fits me good. My goal was not really to quit working just wanted out of the plant.

Dave
 

JS

New member
I figure at the rate shit is going down hill.

Customers will pay one way or another.....it'll be name a price.....

On the Heavy repair work here in the mine, parts and materials are getting longer lead times....
 

wgnrr1

New member
I have the only real machine shop within about 50 miles of me. Everything else is large production machine shops that don't want the low quantity and repair work.

That said, I am absolutely dead. I have one PO for a job, but it's a repair that the customer can't get time to take the equipment apart to get to me. They are hurting for help, and guys are quitting because of mandatory overtime. I've been waiting for the job for 2 months. And have no idea when it will be ready.

Another one of my big ones are so short staffed that they aren't doing their normal maintenance. Just the minimum to keep running. Breakdowns just get taken OOS and the backup system is being used. I'm sure eventually that will backfire on all of us.

I've been talking to other local production shops and they are hurting too. Third quarter was bad, but fourth is showing no work at all for some of them. Layoffs are coming for them.

I'm getting frustrated. Feel like saying "Fxxk It" and go work at walmart. What I'm seeing here, has me quite concerned. If I do survive this, I'll be the last manual/repair shop left in northern WI, as a few more of my competitors closed in the past year.

Sent from my rotary dial flip fone
 

idacal

Member
I think that as there gets less shops that can do it. The prices will get to where its worth doing that kind of work again. You cant pay decent help when the labor rate is 100 an hour. people are not buying the machine time they are buying the knowledge charge for it, of you were a lawyer or doctor you wouldnt think twice about charging several hundred an hour and they have a way higher failure rate than a job shop has. Right now im stuck on a drilling job dynex hydraulic motor went out, of course it has a proprietary shaft, dealer only, and its on back order, no idea when i can get one, it was less than a year old so i didnt have one on the shelf 8000 dollar motor. I need a bunch of work done to modify the top head to a standard sae motor spline. No shops in the area can do it in a week or less for any price. So im calling all my clients deciding what story to tell them i dont know when i will be running again.
 

drom68

New member
In August, the VP said get your Christmas presents now as there will be shortages. We are in Oct and experiencing some of those shortages.

A replacement society has a lot of waste and limited capacity to repair or manufacture. Maybe this will change the minds of people, but the big dollars will still want cheap replacement or proprietary items.

If the $600 IRS rule is approved, it will make life more difficult or expensive. I have been listening to what the politicians have been saying. It does make a difference in how a business will have to adjust these days. Talked with a local fabrication shop owner, doing a job for him. He is troubled with the attitude of people and government. He was very successful, now he is looking at getting out.

More work is coming in. I keep my prices reasonable, materials I have to go with what is dealt to me. The main issue is not knowing what it will be like 3, 6 and 9 months from now. What new regulations, rules, supply issues will we have. I had an opportunity to buy out a local shop two years ago. It didn't work out and I am glad it didn't as I would be in the same boat as others.

The transportation secretary just came out and said supply shortages are expected to last into 2022. Listen to what they say.
 

standardparts

Active member
In August, the VP said get your Christmas presents now as there will be shortages. We are in Oct and experiencing some of those shortages................
.......The transportation secretary just came out and said supply shortages are expected to last into 2022. Listen to what they say.

Apparently the big players who are calling the shots at California ports were unaware of President Biden's promise that the ports will operate 2/7. "LA ports a ghost town much of the weekend despite Biden's goal to move cargo"...."Despite President Joe Biden's goal to move cargo around the clock in Los Angeles ports, the gates remained shut on Sunday with a smattering of open traffic on Saturday."....."Most shipping companies are foreign and did not attend Biden’s briefing and don’t care about what he or the landlord think,”........

LA ports a ghost town much of the weekend despite Biden's goal to move cargo
 

Big B

Active member
Apparently the big players who are calling the shots at California ports were unaware of President Biden's promise that the ports will operate 2/7. "LA ports a ghost town much of the weekend despite Biden's goal to move cargo"...."Despite President Joe Biden's goal to move cargo around the clock in Los Angeles ports, the gates remained shut on Sunday with a smattering of open traffic on Saturday."....."Most shipping companies are foreign and did not attend Biden’s briefing and don’t care about what he or the landlord think,”........

LA ports a ghost town much of the weekend despite Biden's goal to move cargo

Our current president could do what our last president did and lie to us. He could just tell us that the ports are running 24/7 and the shortages are caused by the Chinese or blame someone else. Instead he relies on reality and tells us that his goal is to see ports running 24/7.

I wonder how those six new steel mills that our last president told us about are doing.
 
Our current president could do what our last president did and lie to us. He could just tell us that the ports are running 24/7 and the shortages are caused by the Chinese or blame someone else. Instead he relies on reality and tells us that his goal is to see ports running 24/7.

I wonder how those six new steel mills that our last president told us about are doing.

And here he is to make everything about Trump on queue.
 

DDoug

Active member
Apparently the big players who are calling the shots at California ports were unaware of President Biden's promise that the ports will operate 2/7. "LA ports a ghost town much of the weekend despite Biden's goal to move cargo"...."Despite President Joe Biden's goal to move cargo around the clock in Los Angeles ports, the gates remained shut on Sunday with a smattering of open traffic on Saturday."....."Most shipping companies are foreign and did not attend Biden’s briefing and don’t care about what he or the landlord think,”........

LA ports a ghost town much of the weekend despite Biden's goal to move cargo

I wonder why the ship's don't run up the coast to any number of other container ports ?

Yes, the logistics people have the whole route planned out ahead of time, including trucks and trains to meet the containers
at the port, but sitting for months has blown apart that schedule.

United States container ports - Wikipedia

Container on barge - Wikipedia
 

standardparts

Active member
Our current president could do what our last president did and lie to us. He could just tell us that the ports are running 24/7 and the shortages are caused by the Chinese or blame someone else. Instead he relies on reality and tells us that his goal is to see ports running 24/7.

I wonder how those six new steel mills that our last president told us about are doing.

If the linked news report is inaccurate why not provide info countering the news report? Don't understand how steel mills play into shipping issues at this time.
 

nopoint

New member
Topper machine, I'm surprised that construction equipment and logging equipment doesn't keep you busy. In central WI those folks are busier than busy and can't get help. Some do a fair amount of repair work in house but I'm sure would jump to farm some of that out if it helped them keep guys in functioning equipment. Tourist dollars keep them digging and demoing. Not see that up North?
 








 
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