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Messages - Mojo

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 224
Did you hear the news ?

Dennis fell into his upholstery machine.

Not to worry.......He is fully recovered. :)


The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Mojo and the rest on Marketing
« on: August 12, 2018, 11:58:43 AM »
Steve. Great bible quotes. :)

Marketing is a dynamic part of any business. It is constantly changing with the times and now with technology it is really evolving and changing. I first started learning business and marketing at the young age of 14 from my Godfather who I worked for. As an
adult I had a passion for it which is why I made a career out of it.

When I was consulting my speciality was consumer psychology or other words getting inside the minds of consumers.
I found it not only fascinating but a challenge. I also did a lot of branding campaigns with companies that were small and large.
Looking back, product shelf life was 2 to 3 years, now it is less then 6 months. Simply explained, consumers moods and desires are changing faster then ever before. So is the attention span of consumers which requires constant challenges in changing your message to your target market.

With that said I am way behind on our marketing. We should be over a million in sales and we are far from that goal. My problem
has been time and money. We spend well over $ 20 K a year in advertising, marketing, etc. most of that wrapped up in attending rally's and events. I just got back from a month long trip out West attending 2 big events/shows. The cost was a killer. But in order to maintain and grow our revenue it is a must. Now that I have an Admin Assistant I can start spending more time doing research and building new marketing programs. It will take a lot of time and a lot of money but it has to be done in order to grow.

There is one other problem I have, my stamina. As I get older I find it harder to run fast and keep pace with our businesses. I am still waiting for someone with a fat checkbook to step in the door and buy us out. :)


The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Mojo and the rest on Marketing
« on: August 11, 2018, 07:40:35 AM »
Thank you for the kind words. My background has never been upholstery but rather marketing and communications.
I am glad I can at least lend some help in marketing and business related topics to some of you.

I have learned a great deal from all of you in regards to upholstery skills and for that I am thankful.
This is a great forum loaded with some of our Nations best upholsterers. Together we are Making America Great Again. :)



I find your post very timely as I am struggling with new marketing and branding campaigns for 2019. Our biggest competitor plays these labeling and deception games. They tout American made products and even go as far as to hand out baseball hats as giveaways with their logo and of course an American flag on the side of the cap.

Turns out that while they are a California company touting their American location their entire sewing operation is quietly located in Mexico just across the US border. Even the owner admitted to it and said what a great deal he gets on ;labor costs.

I will not call them out publicly but am struggling to find a way to market around them. I found your post interesting.


General Discussion / Re: Religion
« on: August 04, 2018, 02:38:38 PM »
I was raised Catholic ( dang heathens anyways ) and attended private Catholic schools. We went to mass all the time. I can remember going 5 times in a week for special occasions. Of course there were also religious classes we all had to take throughout junior high and high school.

My former father in law owned a funeral home where I served my apprenticeship as a mortician ( at a very young age ). I moved on to better employment but still worked for him part time for 14 years doing embalming and working services. During that time I worked 500 funerals in every religion you can think of from Taoist and Buddhist to Baptist. It was eye opening to see all the different customs and religious rites.

I rarely attend church anymore. I consider myself a Christian but do not need the organized churches for my salvation. I am what many consider a quiet Christian. Instead of talking the talk I walk the walk and keep my mouth shut. I just try to do right by others, never hurt anyone and try and be an example of a decent Christian to others.

I applaud those who attend church but like Dennis I have lost the need for the social aspect of church and Christianity. Maybe it is a rebellious side of me coming out or maybe it is the politics and corruption I have seen behind closed doors at some churches that keeps me away.


The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Home Based Business Insurance
« on: July 19, 2018, 09:18:49 PM »
We are an LLC. Actually we have two LLC's. One for the awning company and the other for our manufacturing and parts company. We have always had LLC's because 1.) better tax write off's 2.) liability issues.

When we hit a certain sales revenue number in 2016 our CPA told us that it was time to do a Sub Chapter S designation which is easy and only requires filing through the IRS and not the State. I was late filing the sub S designation last year and it cost us $ 3,500 more in taxes ( self employment tax ). Sub Chapter S corp designations can gain you more tax savings once you hit a certain income level.

I always felt we were lucky by running a home based business in our early years. By moving to a commercial location we removed our home and property from the table in the event of a law suit ( customer tripping and falling, etc. ). I believe our liability insurance coverage is $ 2 mil. This covers us at the shop as well as off site. Every show we do we have to present an insurance certificate naming the shows promoter as a 3rd party insured. Our insurance covers us for all the shows with no limit on shows so if we get sued for off site work we are covered. I believe our insurance costs us around $ 1,200 per company per year. I do not think that is bad at all.

Law suits used to keep me awake at night. I sleep much better now with the insurance policies we have in place. There are too many ambulance chasing lawyers out there who can destroy your life for you by taking everything you own if you do not have the proper company structure ( LLC, Inc. etc.. ) and correct liability insurance.

Employer liability is a whole other ball game. Workers Comp covers us for injuries and I believe we are going to go to a personal umbrella insurance policy to protect us as individuals. I hate insurance companies but I hate getting sued even more.


The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Offering a military discount
« on: July 11, 2018, 07:51:09 AM »

Doyle hit on something that I failed to mention. Veterans who are treated well, thanked for their service and given discounts are an excellent source of referrals. They are a very loyal group and have a tendency to spread the word among their friends. One other thing I did not mention and one of the reasons why we give discounts to Vet's is that our customer base is predominantly over 50 and a large part of that group are veterans. We would be nuts not to cater to Vet's. Speaking of Military we are just completing a large walkway canopy for the American Legion.

From a personal aspect I enjoy seeing all the Veterans now wearing baseball hats with their branch of service on them claiming to be Veterans. We have finally reached the point where Veterans can be proud to have served. I call it coming out of the closet for many of them as Veterans were so looked down upon at one stage in our countries history that we hid our military service.

Some people cannot imagine what it is like to give 3 or 4 years of your life to serve. The pay sucks and deployment in some places is horrific. I still remember my pay as a PFC back in 1975 - $ 350 per month. :)


The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Offering a military discount
« on: July 09, 2018, 05:45:49 PM »
We have always offered 10 % discounts to Vet's, Cops and first responders. We never ask for identification. Few people lie about that kind of thing and if they do then they have to live with the lie. Yes, a few liars will make it through and get a discount but it is better then asking for identification.

We are not Lowes and do not have the volume of customers they do. They had to go to verification because everyone and their brother were cheating the system. In Florida it states right on the drivers license if they were a veteran and you have to present your DD-214 to the State to get that designation. I just went through the process when I renewed my license. On the bottom right hand corner it states Veteran.

We are very big on supporting veterans. My admin assistant is a Vet who did a tour overseas. Ingrid thanks every customer for their service when giving them a discount. I can remember back in the day when Vietnam Vet's coming home from overseas were treated like crap. I never told anyone I was in the Marines back then. Guys were spit on and called baby killers back then.

I feel all veterans deserve our thanks and discounts considering the hell they have gone through for all of us. Thankfully I was never deployed. Saigon fell when I was in boot camp. Just getting through basic training was hell on earth. I cannot imagine what Nam was like.


I have to agree with Ed. Anyone who does not understand the tariff situation only needs to look at our ballooning trade deficits. We run huge trade imbalances with nearly every country in the world. We can no longer afford to allow other countries to take advantage of us like this.

On the same note, these tariff's are starting to hit us. Our raw stainless steel prices went up last week. Our best selling product that we manufacture is made of stainless. Our second best selling product is made from aluminum and the price increases for both of these metals has gone up. I am left with no choice but to increases our prices July 1st as we cannot continue to absorb the costs.

Part of the problem with these steel price increases is Wall St. where speculators have driven the price up. The rest can be attributed to the tariffs. I had to laugh last week as we shipped an order of our Guardian Plates to Europe. We are the only company to manufacture these Guardian Plates and one of the few parts companies that will ship to Europe.

I am against trade wars and tariffs and wished we had an open and free world market. But when countries start " protecting " their industries by adding tariff's and subsequently running up trade deficits with the USA then something has to be done. We cannot continue to get kicked in the shins over trade.


General Discussion / Re: JoAnn Fabrics
« on: June 24, 2018, 09:50:27 AM »

I will be sure and let you know.

I just wrote a quote the other day and will be subcontracting out the welding and aluminum fabrication. Once we get moved into a bigger facility then we can start doing our own fab work.

I will post more on this new venture in a few weeks.


The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Taxing Imports
« on: June 23, 2018, 11:13:06 AM »
I should mention that 80 % of our revenue comes from out of State. You guys who only do local work are blessed. :)


The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Taxing Imports
« on: June 23, 2018, 11:10:57 AM »
We are not seeing any fabric increases with our awning company. I cannot say the same thing about our manufacturing company where we use a great deal of stainless and aluminum. The tariff's are hitting steel prices big time and we just got our first price increase on a load of stainless this week.

What really has us worried is the Supreme Court ruling this week that will now allow States to tax products that we ship to our customers. This is going to be a major headache as all the States have different tax laws and rates and we ship to all the States plus Canada & Europe.

We are real concerned as some experts are saying that remote companies that are small will end up going under due to the extra tax burdens placed by the various States. Imagine the bookkeeping nightmare of keeping track of sales tax for 50 plus States as well as sending quarterly checks out to all of them.

Time will tell but I hope Congress comes up with a solution.


Our main acrylic comes directly from Germany to us. We deal directly with the mill because we use so much fabric and we also buy in roll quantities. This common with some awning companies who buy huge quantities.

Our other acrylic is supplied to us through a jobber, Miami Corp as is our vinyl. Colors dictate what and who we buy from. Crazy as it sounds, some suppliers carry some of the OEM colors while others carry OEM colors that the other doesn't.

Both the mill and Miami play a huge part in our educational programs, seminars that we conduct at RV rally's. etc. They provide a huge amount of support. The CEO of Miami is friend as is the head of the Mill we use and both are our business consultants that we call on before making a move into a market or if we are changing a business model. I wont make a move without consulting with them. I bounce a lot of ideas off them. We are getting ready to make a big move into a different market and they will both be guiding us.



I borrowed my own personal experience dealing with sales people to drive my mode of operation. There is nothing more that drives me insane then to have a sales person try selling me something that knows nothing about their product. It turns me off and typically I walk away and won t buy from them. My feeling has always been that it is your job to know your product and if you don't, you shouldn't be selling it.

We have made it a practice to know everything about our fabrics, including how it is made, the machinery and the processes at the mill. I rely on 3 people who have a knowledge base the size of Texas to teach us. All 3 are guys who have spent years in the industry and who have spent time in mill's watching and learning how fabric is made. All 3 are consultants and also our suppliers.

One of our biggest competitors constantly touts misinformation on their website about their fabrics. It is laughable on just how far out in left field they are and how they have been fed a line of crap by some supplier. I never say anything to people in the industry about them because I want them to continue to advertise the way they do. It pushes a lot of sales to us. But customers are always shocked when they call and talk with my wife about fabrics. She closes a lot of sales just based on her knowledge and I read about customers mentioning her expertise on various RV forums.

We are due for a training session from one of our consultant/sales people on the new acrylic fabrics that just hit the market. They are made with CBA fibers and some offerings have a 3-d look. We work hard to stay on top of all the latest breakthroughs on fabric and we also get fed info on what fabrics are experiencing high warranty claim rates and quality issues. In other words we strive to remain experts in our industry. Knowledge gains confidence from consumers and they like to deal with people who know their product.

In regards to how to care for fabrics, we include instructions with each awning purchase along with warranty cards & information. These instructions are all based on the information provided to us by the mills. We also have a " How To Care for Your Fabric " section on our web site.


General Discussion / Re: JoAnn Fabrics
« on: June 21, 2018, 05:50:58 AM »
I gave up trying to guess on sales leads. My wife dragged me out to a Podunk campground to inspect and measure some awnings on a beat up old diesel coach. He was telling me how he was going to store the coach in Florida because of the amount of fuel it took to drive it back to the mid west. I thought " this guy is a cheap skate and he will have a heart attack when he sees our quote. " I did my duty, measured everything, looked at some assemblies and called it good. On the way home I told the wife " do not expect to hear from this guy once you give him your quote ". Her comment was " You never know and you may be surprised ".

God I hate it when she is right. Turns out the guy placed a big multiple awning replacement job with us as well as numerous parts.

I hand out cards to everyone. Just yesterday I got a call from a church to look at installing an awning on a church. I turned it down and told him " this job is not right for a canopy or awning. The area is too large and you need an aluminum structure that can handle 130 mph wind loads ( building codes ). " Later that day I get a call from a VFW hall that needs a door awning. Turns out the guy at the church gave him our number.

Moral of the story: You never know where that next sales lead will come from. Business cards are cheap. Hand them out and then deal with the potential customers as they call. Some will run when you give them a quote but others may just make your day for you.

Oh, and yes. We are creating another division within the company and expanding into commercial & residential awnings. :)


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