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August 25, 2019, 06:46:29 PM
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Messages - Mojo

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 230
1
The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Moving Along
« on: Today at 02:24:24 PM »
Once I am done I am going to do a video of the new facility.

I just finished the 2 new tables this morning. I need to build lower shelves as we use the table space underneath for storage. The tables are all 2 x 4 construction with 3/4 inch melamine for tops. I encased the edges with 5 inch wide 18 ga 304 stainless which runs the length of the table. This acts as a dual cutting surface for vinyl and also hot knives. I also wire the tables and install outlets at each end and in the center. I do not believe in extension cords in a shop.

One table will be the serger station as well as the table for commercial / residential awning work space. You always need a large surface to work from when attaching the fabric to the frames and I do not want the sewing tables cluttered or shut down.

Our metal fab shop is all done and ready to be moved into. The sewing area is 90 % done. I am in the process of building another office and then I have to complete the kitchen and break room. I do have some odd's and ends to finish up ( electrical & duct work ). The movers will be here September 12th.

I cannot wait till this building is finished. 7 days a week is too much for this old man.

Mojo

2
General Discussion / Re: Bed Bugs
« on: Today at 06:28:47 AM »
Upgrading a 100 amp service to 200 amp requires a new breaker panel. It also includes the electric company coming out and upgrading the meter if needed. Most new homes are 200 amp service now days. I have upgraded several homes to 200 amp from 100 amp before and it is not a big problem. I just hated re-attaching all the wires to the new breakers. 

Mike, I could see bed bugs being a huge problem for an upholsterer. You get a sofa brought in that is infested and an outbreak occurs in your shop and then all the furniture you finish and ship out has bed bugs. That is one scary scenario. I would hate to think of the blow back from customers and liability of that happening. Imagine reading a welp review " Took my sofa in for recovering and got it back loaded with bed bugs. Now my whole house has them and I had to pay for an exterminator. " YIKES ............

I have been curious to know how your Bus project has come along.

Mojo

3
The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Moving Along
« on: Today at 06:02:13 AM »
Doyle:

We do not keep a data base of assembly specs in regards to measurements. The awning manufacturers are notorious for making their roller tubes different sizes. Each model can be off by an inch. Doesn't sound like much but on a slide topper assembly an inch can make the difference between water intrusion into a coach.

We also do not go off their serial numbers. Each assembly has a unique serial number and the stickers are sometimes so off it is laughable. The serial number will indicate a 10 ft assembly with heather beige fabric when it actually is 12 feet and is charcoal tweed. We have the customer get us a measurement based on our instructions and go from there. Colors are all OEM colors so those are easy to nail down.

This new building is going to really help our efficiency and save us time as we have added a third sewing station setup up with twin and single needle machines. I will post pictures once we are all done. We just hired another employee who will be a director and oversee all 3 companies. I am falling back into semi retirement mode and will do nothing but marketing and provide technical support when needed.

Mojo

4
The Business Of Upholstery / Moving Along
« on: August 18, 2019, 05:53:47 AM »
We closed on our new building a couple weeks ago and are now going through the new building and adding some things as well as updating others. Thankfully the building is in good shape and built extremely well. It also has great insulation which is a plus down here in the swamp ( Florida ). It does have 2 tired heat pump systems that will need to be replaced down the road but everything else is good.

The worst part is sorting out the electrical so I can add a couple new lines. The building has 120, 240 and 208 with 3 seperate breaker panels. It used to be a printing shop so they must have had equipment that ran on 208. This voltage was popular for grocery stores and such as they ran their lighting and coolers off 208. This voltage has since lost favor and now most commercial buildings are wired for straight 240 and 3 phase 240.

The sewing shop is divided from the office and lobby area. The sewing area will have 2,400 sq ft of space and the remaining 1,600 sq ft will be the office area, kitchen & break room, conference room and design center. The lobby will have retail space for parts, etc. One nice thing is the previous owner when they emptied the building went through and painted the walls and floors. That will save a lot of time.

I did build a new metal fabricating shop inside the sewing area and we now have storage space for parts and supplies along with a fabric storage area. My son-in-law flew down from Richmond, VA and helped me frame, sheetrock and wire the metal fab shop. He then  installed a new security system and we have an 8 camera video monitoring system going in as well. I installed 2 new Sensi thermostats so we can monitor and control our heat pumps from home if we want using our Iphones. The new security system and cameras also are all controlled by our cell phones and we can take a peak around the building using our phones. All of our security systems have battery backup and will work even in the event of a power failure. Technology is amazing these days.

I should be done with the building and we will be moved in about mid-September. I will be glad when the process is done as I am getting too old for this crap. I have 2 shows to do starting in September ( SHreveport and Syracuse, NY ) and will be gone for a month so my time line is tight. :)

Mojo

5
The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Serving those who serve us.
« on: August 18, 2019, 05:27:41 AM »
These young snowflakes piss me off. They have no respect for authority. They need to spend 2 years in the Marines
to get their minds right.

In regards to first responders, we always offer quick sew jobs for free to them. Police and firemen gear that needs to be restitched, etc.
We also heavily discount work for people confined to wheelchairs such as re-stitching or the making of a new wheelchair cushion. Alot of times we do it for free

All military members and Veterans get 10 % off any order they place. Being a Veteran myself I am a huge proponent of
giving thanks to our current and former military members. It is one reason I refuse to shop at Home Depot. Lowes always gives me
a military 10 % discount off anything I purchase. Home Depot gives nothing. We have a corporate account with Lowes which gives us 5 % off and our corporate account with Home Depot gives us nothing. Screw em. I shop at Lowes. You will find many Veterans operate this way. They go where they are appreciated.

We give to specific charities throughout the year - Wounded Warrior's, Leukemia Society ( as I have leukemia myself ) and we sponsor certain events in the community. We are very blessed to have 3 successful companies so we try and show our thanks by helping others and show respect for our police and fire departments. These damn snowflakes disrespect and hate police and fire dept members but have no problem calling them when they need their services. They disgust me. All of us here on this forum were raised in different times. We were raised to respect authority as well as respect our elders and seniors.

Mojo

6
A farmer drove to a neighbor's farmhouse and knocked at the door. A boy, about 9, opened the door.
"Is your dad or mom home?" said the farmer.
 
"No, they went to town."
 
"How about your brother, Howard? Is he here?"
 
"No, he went with Mom and Dad."
 
The farmer stood there for a few minutes, shifting from one foot to the other, mumbling to himself, when the young boy says, "I know where all the tools are if you want to borrow one, or I can give Dad a message."
 
"Well," said the farmer uncomfortably. "No, I really want to talk to your Dad, about your brother Howard getting my daughter Suzy pregnant".
 
The boy thought for a moment, then says, "You'll have to talk to my Dad about that. I know he charges $500 for the bulls and $150 for the pigs, but I have no idea how much he charges for Howard."

7
General Discussion / Re: Cheap vinyl?
« on: August 01, 2019, 05:42:32 AM »
We now and again will have a customer demand we use Sunbrella. We typically give them what they want but explain we will not warrant Sunbrella and if there is a problem they have to deal directly with Sunbrella.

I would do the same and explain you wont warrant the EZ vinyl.

Mojo


8
General Discussion / Re: bonded leather
« on: August 01, 2019, 05:30:03 AM »
The bonded leather will continue to flake off which will release the glued fabric as well. My concern would be as the new fabric and bonded leather release from the polyester core if that will show through with an impression.

Myself I wouldn't do it as it looks like it could be a recipe for disaster. But that is just me and I am not a furniture guy.

Mojo

9
The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Boat business curiosity?
« on: July 30, 2019, 09:56:20 AM »
Doyle:

Our orders are processed by one person. In other words they take the order from start to finish. We have an iron clad rule that we never deviate from. If one person sews an awning, another person checks all measurements and quality standards. This eliminates any awning that may have a quality issue getting shipped. It gets ultra expensive if we ship out an awning that is not correct. On large awnings measurements are checked by 2 people during the production process to catch problems in the early stages. Our tolerances on a 22 ft awning are 1/4 " or less in either direction and from top to bottom. Our goal is always exactness which requires paying attention to detail by the stitcher. Anything over a 1/4 inch deviation from top to bottom on an automatic awning can cause issues with the operation of the assembly. There is a lot of calculating in regards to the gathering of fabric during sewing operations to arrive at that exact number. To complicate things even more some assemblies require a quadratic slope in the center.

In regards to the sewing operation, each stitcher has their own table. Each awning requires different segments or sewing operations. One part of the awning requires a single need run with encased spline while another part of the awning requires double stitching. With 3 tables we can keep 3 stitchers sewing at once and they can all perform various operations on their own tables.

The large size of the tables is needed for layout work. Our largest awnings we make is 22 ft long by 10 ft wide which is why we have a 24 x 12 ft table. Commercial awnings require a lot of space as well because you have fabric and frame layouts to do plus the assembly work.

I can attest to the fact that we do not have machine failures because the people who sew are very easy on our machines. We had one who would take a machine down once a week because she was so rough with handling fabric while it went through the machine. I was constantly retiming machines and adjusting hooks. In fact I had to have a backup twin needle just because she would take them down so frequently. I would be repairing one and she would break the other and I would slide one out, work on it while the fixed twin went back into production. I had one week where I spent 6 hours repairing machines. So glad she is gone. I am convinced that machine reliability is based on how well it is treated and maintained by the operator.

Mojo


10
The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Boat business curiosity?
« on: July 29, 2019, 04:56:03 PM »
We have real large sewing tables. One is 24 ft long by 12 ft wide to accommodate large patio awnings. The 2nd table is 10 x 16 ft long.
Both are dual station tables meaning that a twin needle is setup at one end and sews in one direction while a single need long arm on the other side of the tbvale sews in the other direction. We will building a new table 8 x 16 that will have our serger at one end and a single needle at the other.

Because all of our awning fabrics are double stitch runs the twin needle cut our production time in half. I used to do that part of the operation with double passes. Very time consuming.

We use folders only on the single needles. I should mention that our twins are setup with a 1/2 " gauge. Both of our twins are Highlead's and we have never had one go down. I haven't timed them in 3 years and they run 5 days a week, 5 to 6 hours a day.

Mojo

11
The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Reviews
« on: July 20, 2019, 07:33:26 AM »
Since we are all old timers we can look back and remember what it was like before the internet. Marketing centered around local ad's, the yellow pages and word of mouth.

Today consumers are all geared towards doing research on products and services via the internet and using a host of different methods. Today businesses have to reach as many of these sites as possible and they have to maintain a web presence. I have lost track of the number of potential customers that I talked to who all said " I will check out your website ".

Despite being in this game for many years I am still astounded how readily available information is to the consumer via the internet.

Mojo

12
The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Reviews
« on: July 16, 2019, 07:39:37 AM »
Our online reviews are our bread and butter. Our sales are 70 % internet based, 20 % rally and 10 % walk in. We seem to have a mix when it comes to how sales arrive at our door step ( Google, campground literature, etc. ). Our commercial/residential awning division is all generated off Facebook or Google. Our RV business is all generated off reviews on various RV internet forums.

Once a month I have my Op's manager go through all of the RV forums and find mentions of our company. I track our reviews real close because it is the engine behind our sales. One good review can generate thousands of dollars for us from other RV'ers. Combine that with other good reviews and it generates hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a year. I can honestly say we have had one bad review over the years.

Unlike Amazon & E-Bay all of our reviews on RV forums are from known customers. I look through the reviews and see the customer names and know they are solid reviews. We do have an E-Bay store and are getting ready to launch an Amazon store for our manufactured products company. That will be interesting.

We live and die by reviews and all of the mentions we get from the RV forums drives our sales. Here are a couple forum reviews:

" StoneVos by reputation, experience, and just the nicest people in the world. Chris and Ingrid truly help us all "

" I have bought replacement fabric for all our toppers from Stone Vos. I highly recommend the high-quality acrylic fabric that they provide! They will last a lot longer than any vinyl fabric out there! They were able to provide an exact color match for the original fabric that came on the MH in 2002! I installed them myself. Chris can probably provide an installation video for you, or point you to one on YouTube. "

" Installed my second Stone Vos one today and the first yesterday. Two more to go. I ordered the Coachguard fabric for my Girard slide toppers. Still have 6 more to go. "

If you look at the fabric name Coachguard that is the acrylic fabric name we trademarked and branded strictly for our company.
This gives us a double wammy as our name Stone Vos gets branded as well as our fabric. There are literally hundreds of these reviews all over the RV forums and they all drives sales. So if an RV'er searches the RV forums for Coachguard or Stone Vos they find us. In essence we are driving sales off reviews based on our company name and fabric name.

Mojo

13
The Business Of Upholstery / Idea's - Product Solutions - Expansion
« on: June 30, 2019, 11:42:23 AM »
Doyle has posted about a few business ideas for expansion and I thought I would add my 2-cents worth to help those
who are looking for expansion into other areas for bringing in additional revenue.

One of our companies is a manufacturer of obsolete RV parts as well as new products that I design myself as add-ons to RV's. Our other company is an RV awning company. With both companies our growth is based on penetrating new markets, expanding existing markets, identifying new products and improving on existing products. I have a goal to manufacture one new product annually. I will explain how I go about identifying the product.

1.) I look for a product that has a viable place in the market.
2.) I then study the market and identify my competition.
3.) I check patents and trademarks to limit liability.
4.) If the product appears viable and we can expect decent sales and the market can be expanded then
I move on to the next category - Producing the product.

1.) What materials can be used and what is the cost of those materials ?
2.) How can I design and enhance the product to find a niche in that product category ?
3.) What is the total cost for the product which includes materials, labor, handling, admin duties, packaging, etc. ?
4.) How many units of the product can I expect to sell in the first year ?
5.) How much marketing time will it take to launch the product ?
6.) Most importantly what is my margin for each unit sold ?

If you go back and look at our 12 year history you will see that I have developed many products, designed enhancements,
created markets and in some cases designed products to retrofit problem areas on RV's. I look at all the shortcomings of
a particular RV and then try and identify what products could replace problem parts with high quality ones that we manufacture.

I readily admit I know very little about the furniture side of upholstery. I also would never pass myself off as a true upholsterer
as I have 20 % of the skill levels you all have with furniture, cars and marine work. My expertise lies in business and marketing.
I have never sat down and looked at furniture upholstery to see if there are areas of expansion. But I can guess there are opportunities for more revenue in your line of work. Upselling thread, foam and fabric types and other things that have to do with furniture. I also see maybe a little opportunity with you guys who also do woodworking in making matching ottomans. For instance I bring a chair to you to be upholstered. You then try and sell me a matching ottoman custom made by you. Maybe one that is simple or maybe one that includes a hinged top with internal storage. Kicking ideas around that can grow your business with a new product offering is always a good thing.

So get to kicking some ideas around in your heads and see where there is opportunity for additional revenue. Brainstorm with your wives or friends. One of our members here RiCat is excellent at upselling his marine products by simply offering upgrades to thread - Poly to Solarfix. He has great margins with that simple upsell. It is ideas like that that can put a few extra thousand dollars a year into your bank accounts.

Mojo


14
The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Is there a market for pet clothing?
« on: June 30, 2019, 11:08:02 AM »
Doyle:

This is one market that is flooded big time. There a slew of Mom & Pop's who make pet clothing and sell
them at flew markets.

There is a vendor who travels the RV Rally circuit that sells pet clothing and accessories. I often wonder how
long they will be around.

I am guessing the margins would be very slim.

Mojo

15
The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Business Expansion - ahead?
« on: June 30, 2019, 11:04:38 AM »
Funny you mention this Doyle. We recently ordered slip covers for our leather chair, sofa and loveseat.

We got them off Amazon and the fit and quality was very good. Were they custom made ? No. But they fit very well
and tight and came with styrofoam inserts that you wedge into the cushions.

Like so many other things they were made in China and the price point was very low making it impossible to compete.
We all need to remember the consumer world we are dealing with now days. While the older generation is still quality conscious
the vast majority of consumers are all about price. Never mind about quality and length of the products service life.
People are accustomed to throwing out and buying new.

Where I could see a market is maybe with the high end client who wants a perfect fit. But again this market I believe would be very small.

Check out these prices:  https://www.amazon.com/s?k=slip+covers+for+furniture+sofa&crid=34Y73D3DZZ37Y&sprefix=slip+covers%2Caps%2C175&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_11

Mojo

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