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August 14, 2020, 05:53:27 am

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Messages - Mojo

1
General Discussion / Re: Virus update
June 10, 2020, 07:03:13 pm
We had to institute some new policies for our employees and customers and while it was a pain it worked out.

We are in a weird cycle right now. RV/motorcoach owners are throwing huge amounts of money at their RV's like no tomorrow. Many are holed up and cannot travel because so many campgrounds closed so they are taking this time to upgrade and do maintenance on their rigs. Our dealer network expanded again and we are getting some strange orders. We just got a huge job from a company that owns a fleet of specialty buses for all new awning assemblies and fabrics. The order was so huge we are doing 5 buses at a time.

Our awning company is backlogged big time. Putting in all the sewing stations was smart as we sometimes have 3 stitchers going on different orders. That big massive cutting table I built is crazy to watch. One stitcher is sewing an awning down one side of the table while another stitcher is sewing another down the other side. I thought the table was overkill when I built it but I reckon it isn't.

I hired another full time RV tech and our service company are going great guns. We added an executive Director to oversee all 3 companies and he is doing a helluva job. We changed up our marketing plan and we did a few strategic ad buys and that created the backlog with our awning company.

I just had the 1st quarter financials run and our sales with the awning company shot up 180 %. Our RV service and parts company is up 35 % and our parts manufacturing company is up 25 %. We are doing well but it has caused a boat load of stress and new challenges. We basically are at capacity now and cannot grow any further without expanding. The SBA came out with some new loan programs so I gave the go ahead today for expansion which will include clearing the property behind our shop and building a new service facility.

Meanwhile I am doing my best to stay healthy and stay in semi retirement mode. Thankfully we have hired some amazing staff who are doing an excellent job managing the companies. My wife ( being 10 years younger then me ) is still overseeing all the operations on a day to day basis. I am now the new housebitch ( as my kids call me ). Life is good.

Stay safe everyone and stay healthy.

Mojo
2
General Discussion / Re: Cloth Backed Foam
June 10, 2020, 06:37:54 pm
I never did a lot of scrim sewing with pleats so I always did what you did. I used the same material and scrim and would sew a sample piece so I could get back into the swing of things. A year would pass and I would be right back doing another pleat job and would have to re-familiarize myself with layout work and sewing pleats.

It is like anything else in life, you struggle to do something, learn the tricks and then you don't do it for a long time and you are back to square one again. I run into this with drywall. I hate mudding with a damn passion and do it once every 4 or 5 years. When I do it I am right back to relearning the tricks again. How much mud to apply, the strokes you make using a mudding knife, etc. You get older and your muscle / memory bank drops.

Speaking of which I have a drywall job coming up next week in our new pool house. I am looking forward to that like I would a colonoscopy. I hate drywall and mudding.

Mojo
3
General Discussion / Re: Cloth Backed Foam
June 08, 2020, 05:56:31 pm
Sewing scrim is pretty straight forward. It is a very slow process though as you have to take your time
making sure the lines stay perfectly parallel.

Not one of my fun sewing jobs. :)

Mojo 
4
General Discussion / Machines Down
June 04, 2020, 03:46:34 am
I had 2 single needle machines go down today, our long arm and our Chandler. Both suffered timing issues.
I worked till 10 PM tonight on them and got the timing back in and they are running great. No idea how the timing got so far off.

This is the first time I have had a machine go down in over a year and a half so I cannot complain.
I did notice the hooks were getting worn so ordered 2 new ones and will replace them next week. I installed a new needle bar on my Chandler 2 years ago. I also went through and replaced the take up spring assemblies on both Chandlers as they were getting tired. I am so glad I learned machine repair because we do not have a machine tech worth a crap anywhere around us.

I consider myself lucky as all of our machines get heavy use - day in and day out. Our twin needle Highleads have been amazing machines. They get the hell run out of them everyday - all day and never miss a beat. Our industrial Juki serger has been a solid performer as well.

Some of you may remember my first machine - a Chinese walking foot that was the biggest POS ever made. That machine is what taught me how to work on machines. I would sew for two hours and work on that machine for 4 hours. It never stayed in time, parts broke constantly. When I bought my Chandler I thought I died and went to heaven.

What has really helped me with our machines is our stitchers are all gentle on the machines. I had one stitcher a couple years ago that was rough as heck on the machines so I had machines going down all the time. It seemed she would take one down once a week.

We have back up machines and all of our tables have wheels. When a machine goes down we wheel it out of the way and move another machine in its place. Our sewing schedule as of late is a mess. We are so back ordered from phenomenal sales the last 2 months we cannot afford a machine being down for 2 hours let alone all day. We brought on a 3rd stitcher to help with the volume but we still are struggling to keep up.

Hope all of you are well,

Mojo
5
Pretty amazing how this pandemic is killing our economy. I have my own thoughts on this virus but wont get into them here.
Instead I am more concerned about how this will impact our 3 companies as well as our employees.

We can Poo-Poo this virus till the cows come home but we only need to look at what is happening in our economy to know that if this virus spreads even a little more business owners could be in for some rough times. One only has to look to Europe ( namely Italy ) to see just how bad things could get for us. It doesn't matter if this is all hype brought on by the media or not. When they start closing the doors to events, schools, sports events, theaters, concert halls, shops, stores, restaurants and such and people avoid walking the streets like they are doing in Italy then you know things can get real bad for our economy. The trickle down effect can be a killer for many small businesses.

I have never been one to buy into hysteria and hype. But I am also not a fool. We have a lot of staff now and I am responsible to them and their families. I also have a huge responsibility to make sure our companies survive a big economic downturn. I held a staff meeting last week and talked with our employees. I told them we need to be prepared for a severe slow down in business and because of that I have instituted new policies which include no new expenditures. The only purchases I will approve are for essential items such as needed supplies. We are also going to reduce our product and parts inventories by not replacing sold items.

So why would I do this ? Because in a big downturn in our economy, cash is king. My biggest concern is paying our monthly bills but also ensuring we have payroll in the bank for several months. Our employees are highly trained and each one performs functions that are critical to our survival. I also have a boat load of money and time tied up in getting them trained to fulfill their duties. The last thing I want to do is lay them off and then 6 months from now start all over with new employees pouring hoardes of money and a years time in training.

My suggestion is to bank your money and let your cash reserves start building so you are in a position to keep going if the economy tanks from society being essentially shut down over this pandemic. While I may sound like I am crying wolf and over reacting, my personal feeling is we have only seen the start of how bad things will get.

I have seen all the comments about the ordinary flu and how it infects or kills more people but this virus is completely different. It is respiratory based and unlike the flu which requires IV fluids and an overnight stay for real sick patients, this virus requires patients being on ventilators and a few weeks stay in ICU. In other words our health system wont be able to keep up. The other problem we are facing is the craziness of society. The run on toilet paper and hand sanitizer is a perfect example. When fear and panic hit society they quit spending money on non-essentials and start hoarding cash. All of us here perform work that is non essential.

My advice, be prepared for even more craziness and hoard your cash. This entire fiasco is going to get much worse before it gets better and as business owners we need to be prepared to react to society and their purchase habits and ensure our businesses survive into the future. In situations like this, it really does not matter if we think this pandemic is a crock of shit. What matters is how we react to it and I have always been one to stay ahead of the curve and be proactive versus getting my ass kicked when panic sets in. Just something to think of.

Off my soap box,

Mojo
6
General Discussion / Re: Business is picking up.
March 15, 2020, 10:39:33 am
Business has been nuts for January and February for both companies. Our overall revenue is up 45 % for those 2 months. We have had several days where we shattered single day sales records by huge margins. We have been back logged since Jan 1 and our staff a few times had to work 6 days a week to get us caught up. On top of that I have been slammed with a crazy event schedule. I did 5 in just 7 weeks time. I hit the road, do a show, back home for a week, reload products and hit the road again.

Then Covid 19 hit, the stock market tanked and things slowed on the awning side. Our RV service company has gone nuts and we ended up having to add another technician. We are booked out till June on service work. Scheduling has gotten dicey as we have coaches coming in and out constantly. Making things worse is we have gotten some real big and complicated jobs in which tends to throw a wrench into our schedule.

Overall I am happy. We plowed all the extra cash into retiring debt from the purchase of our new facility and we are going into this pandemic and slow down with a decent cash position. I do look for things to get ugly in another 30 - 60 days. I just loaded our show trailer, had our bus all set and was pulling out today for Tucson to do a big RV event. They just cancelled and it looks like all our other events this spring and summer may also get cancelled. I don't mind as the cost to do one show out of State is very expensive. We may not being doing shows but neither are our competitors.

We brought on an executive director last year and he has done an amazing job cultivating and expanding our dealer network with the awning company. Just as things starting slowing on direct orders our dealer orders picked up. Strange.

All 3 companies are in the black and I am just getting ready to start a 4th company. For the time being we are in good shape but I am watching this pandemic real close as well as the stock market. 90 % of our client base have 401K's and when the market tanks they tighten their belts.  That is the headache for us business owners......... Riding the rollercoaster. Feast or famine.

Mojo
7
The Business Of Upholstery / Big Changes for 2020
December 26, 2019, 12:28:36 pm
It has been a while since I have given an update on all of our companies. Now would be appropriate as 2020 is ushering in some big changes
for me as well as the companies.

To bring you all up to date we formed another company - Throgmartin Holdings, last summer. This company was formed to own the new building, own all of our various trademarks and intellectual property and will be used for future real estate deals and developments. Stone Vos is still going strong and we formed a division under that to handle sales and installation on our residential and commercial awning systems. Talin Manufacturing just had a banner year with sales up 150 %. We formed 2 divisions under Talin Manufacturing - 1.) Parts sales 2.) RV service.

We have added more staff and now have an executive director who helps my wife oversee all companies. We also have a shop manager for Stone Vos and a service manager as well. I have got the Talin operations manager trained and up to speed and just promoted her to Director. She will be in charge of manufacturing, the parts division and the service division. In other words she will be the big boss and take my place.

But the big change is I have announced my retirement effective Jan 1. I will spend 1 hour a day at the office but will no longer have any hand in the day to day operations. I will continue to do shows and events, handle marketing and PR but will spend my days looking for new adventures outside the RV industry, mainly commercial and business development. We have assembled an awesome team of managers and employees which is making this all possible. I will always be around to consult to them or if problems arise but I am handing the companies operations off to them to run and grow.

I plan on getting back to my hobbies - woodworking and horses. A few of you know I am also a junkie pilot. I have several exotic aircraft I want to fly in 2020 so will spend a little more time in the cockpit. I have simulator time set for the 737-800 and the Airbus 320 and flight time scheduled for the T-6 Texan and Curtiss P-40 warhawk fighter. So there you have it. Come January 1 this old fart is packing up and heading in a new direction.
It is time as I am I am burnt out, need to slow down, stop and smell the roses and pursue some hobbies while I still can.

Press Release: https://rv-pro.com/news/throgmartin-holdings-president-retire-jan-1?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20191223%20RVP%20ENEWS%20(1)&utm_content=&spMailingID=22624233&spUserID=NjE3MjYxMTUxOTYzS0&spJobID=1641601232&spReportId=MTY0MTYwMTIzMgS2

Here's hoping all of you have an awesome 2020.

Mojo
8
General Discussion / Re: Merry Christmas
December 26, 2019, 11:55:26 am
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I have been sick in bed for two weeks with bronchitis. I lovingly gave the bug to the wife so she has been in bed sick.
She felt well enough to cook Christmas dinner but then we were both too sick afterwards to sit and eat so we both went back to bed.
This bug that is going around is horrible. Hopefully we will be back to normal in another week.

God Bless you all and I am hoping everyone has an amazing 2020.

Mojo
9
We bought a sofa 22 years ago that cost $ 2,500 back then. It was done in heavy leather and the frame was solid hardwood.
That sofa is still in excellent shape. It pays to buy quality furniture.

Mojo
10
We use 90 lbs for everything except our rivet gun. We bump up to 110 #'s on that. When you are using 304 stainless rivets you need more pressure. The staple guns like 90 lbs.

Mojo
11
General Discussion / Re: What Ya Been Up To
December 05, 2019, 09:44:06 pm
It has been a busy year. This last month has been horrific busy with our RV parts and service company and our awning company.
Just picked up another commercial awning job at Orlando International Airport. Trying to finish up 2020 marketing programs, rally schedule and a host of other things.

I am getting too old for all this happy horsecrap.

Mojo
12
Check all the linkage from the pedal up to the motor. I always adjust the pedal with the motor arm in the full stop position.
Also make sure the actuating rod coming off the pedal is straight and vertical and not at an angle.
If you are still having problems give Bobby a call.

I have 4 servo motors on 4 separate machines and all 4 seem to have to have the speed dials adjusted at different positions.
None of them operate in an identical fashion.

Mojo
13
General Discussion / Re: French Seams
October 25, 2019, 01:06:48 am
I did several large motorcycle seats using french seams. When you start doing curved contours using french seams it helps to take a valium
to keep from throwing the work through a window. I would also make sure no priests or nun's are in your shop. The language can get pretty colorful. I did one seat and by the time I was done I invented over a dozen brand new curse words.

Mojo
14
General Discussion / Re: French Seams
October 24, 2019, 02:10:52 pm
Yup. Mucho dollars for a good setup. About $ 5,000. We are going to do an analysis on this including costs as well as the strength.
We just went to a 10 year warranty on our vinyl and we would end up bankrupt if the strength of those seams are not as good as
a stitched seam.

We have 2 fabric/textile consultants we work with who have been inside shops and plants all over the world. They have seen it all and know what works and what doesn't. We will call them in and go over the welded seam venture before we go any further. It has to be a sure thing otherwise I wont roll the dice and risk our company. My biggest concern is wind and rain loads. RV awning applications are completely different then standard commercial and residential awning installations simply because the RV awnings are all mechanized and go down the road at 65 mph.

Mojo

15
General Discussion / Re: French Seams
October 23, 2019, 12:50:07 pm
Gene:

I am not sure about using basting tape in other applications. I never used it before when doing other work but when I started doing awnings I started using it. I should clarify that we only use the tape on center seams. We do not use the tape on outside edge seams.

In regards to seams we use a fell seam on center seams for most awnings that require 2 panels. On some assemblies we use a simple overlap seam that is double stitched simply because the assemblies themselves wont tolerate a fell seam because of internal clearances inside the assembly. The assemblies seem to get less tolerant every year in regards to fabric replacements. The casement assemblies for example require a near perfect square in order for the lead rail to close tight. In other words the depth of the fabric has to be near perfect otherwise one end of the assembly will remain slightly ajar when the assembly is retracted. Not a good thing when that assembly is subject to 65 mph winds going down the road.

Depending on the assembly type we use either a perpendicular overlap seam or a parallel fell seam. 

Mojo