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Topics - Rich

The Business Of Upholstery / Pricing in a vacuum?
August 15, 2012, 01:28:57 am
Here's an interesting angle on pricing:

What do you think?

I'll be installing a new top on an 88 Corvette for a customer and up till now, all the tops I've installed have been on cars older than that. Does anyone have any tips specific to this top to offer? Any problem areas to be aware of?
I'd appreciate it.
General Discussion / Buying disability insurance
April 19, 2012, 09:58:14 pm
Does anyone have any experience buying disability insurance? Any guidelines?
General Discussion / Webbing heat sealer
March 08, 2012, 10:36:36 pm
Does anyone know of a heat sealer that would weld 1" nylon webbing to eliminate the need to sew when attaching buckles?
General Discussion / Restaurant vinyl
January 08, 2012, 11:45:51 pm
Does anyone know how I might be able to ID the vinyl used on restaurant booth cushions of national chains? I've got many vinyl sample books, but cannot find the medium brown vinyl used on Red Lobster or the dark brown used on Outback cushions.
General Discussion / Too bad we've been left in the dust
December 24, 2011, 03:29:09 pm
I'm doing a bathroom remodel and wanted to get some tips on installing crown moldings so I went on youtube and found this video. It was helpful, but it also got me thinking about how little improvement has occurred in the methods we use in our industry while others have sailed right past us. I think it's sad.
Take a look at this video

Why has this happened? I have my own thoughts, but first, what do you think?
General Discussion / Shop heater
December 13, 2011, 09:32:48 pm
I thought i saw a thread on this topic in the past, but a search turned up nothing. In fact it was amusing to see how "heater" was returned as "cheater" and "theater". But anyway, My shop was being heated by an obsolete kerosene stove which has now all but quit (too bad, b/c I just had my oil tank refilled), so I'm looking for ideas on how others are heating their shops. Anyone have something they like? (economical, sufficient heat).
Does anyone have an installation time for a 70's (could be 80"s) VW Beetle? This is the sedan and the customer has the headliner with the B pillar post trim as well as the vinyl that goes under the 1/4 glass and rear glass. I'm thinking 5 hours + or - but having not done one of these in many years I'd like to hear from someone who's done them more recently.
When a customer gives you his name, it's usually first and last as in John Smith. Now, do you call him Mr. Smith, or John? Do you have a reason for doing it one way or the other? I have reasons for both ways;
Mr. Smith; 1-Shows respect for the customer.
                 2-Keeps the transaction on a professional level
                 3-Keeps the relationship from getting too friendly which could       
                    encourage the customer to expect "special" treatment as in a lower 
                    price, or "how about just throwing that in?".
                 4-Avoids overstepping in cases where a customer doesn't want to
                    be called by his first name by a stranger.
John; 1-Makes the customer feel like he is valued and not just another customer.
          2-Creates a  less-rigid environment.
Also, which way do you prefer to be addressed when you're the customer? Does it matter which type of business you're in at the time?
General Discussion / Nesting software
September 27, 2011, 03:22:17 pm
Does anyone know of any software available for laying out fabric pieces? This is commonly called "nesting software" and is used mostly in manufacturing where it will be sent to an automated cutter. I had purchased a program from a gentleman a few years back which I still use occasionally, but he has since retired and no longer supports it. This program allowed a user to key in the width, length and amount of each piece, it automatically added in the seam allowance you wanted and figured out the best arrangement to use the least amount of fabric. In the end, you could print out a cutting chart to use as a visual guide for a layout on the bench. It saved time over a pencil and paper layout, but given the advancements in computer software today, I was hoping that something existed for the small shop that would be  easier to use and is still supported.
General Discussion / Bobbin sensor
September 23, 2011, 04:07:15 pm
This was mentioned briefly in a prior post, but I'd like to ask the question by itself here.
Is there something that can be done to a walking foot, vertical axis bobbin machine to alert the operator when the bobbin thread is about to, or has just run out?
General Discussion / Who repairs your sewing machine?
September 19, 2011, 03:16:09 am
Many years ago, I had a sewing machine repair guy repair and adjust my Singer 111w and later, my Juki LU563 machines. But due more to the down time than the cost, (I'd either have to wait for a repair person to come to the shop, or bring it to a repair shop and then wait for them to get to it) I began to read up on machine adjustments and started doing them myself. Come to think of it, I remember attending a Juki one day workshop where basic repairs and adjustments were taught. Although doing the work myself meant taking time away from my regular shop work, I was able to get the machine back in service in hours rather than days and that meant being able to produce work with it sooner. These days, I feel pretty confident about making most repairs and adjustments on both my Juki's (LU563 and 1508n) so that if something stops working I can get it back in service that day, or if it's just acting up, I can postpone the adjustment until a day when I have more time.
How about you? Has neccesity forced you to learn a side skill like me? Or are you fortunate to have an expert who gets the job done for you when you need it?
I got this in an email yesterday and thought it was a very appropriate statement on how we seem to have to make something into a cause nowadays when a couple of generations ago it was just the way things were done.

The Green Thing

In the line at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. 

The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today.  Your generation did not care enough to save our environment."

He was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over.  So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw-away kind.  We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry the clothes.  Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power.  We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.

We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service.

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.  And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young person.

The Green Thing
The Business Of Upholstery / Hourly rate
June 27, 2011, 07:35:05 pm
I just read through the responses to a post on what to charge for travel and I noticed one thing missing-no one mentioned what THEY charge per hour.
I cannot make a profit in my business charging any less than $100.00/hr, but I saw one post in particular where they said that another business (might have been a plumber) charges $65.00/hr.
I was wondering if anyone could tell me how their business could charge less than what I find I have to charge and still make a profit? Is it by somehow having extremely low rent? (mine's not high) By working out of your garage? By cutting back on insurance or maybe by having none at all? (I won't go for that one though). Or something I haven't thought of?
Here's a link to those who are concerned about how their expenses affect their bottom line. It's an excel spreadsheet that enables you to, by plugging in your own numbers, arrive at a break-even point, that point at which all of your overhead expenses are paid and you can start seeing the fruits of you labor :)
When you get to the page, scroll down to "Free Excel templates" and click on "Profit volume-cost analysis template".
The most difficult part, I found, was identifying the fixed costs and the variable costs, but once you have correct numbers to work with, you can play with different scenarios to see how your bottom line might be affected by changing your expenses or the price you charge.
General Discussion / Cutting lengths of velcro
March 25, 2011, 02:53:11 pm
Does anyone ever have a need to cut 1" wide velcro (or webbing) in multiple pieces of the same length? How have you done it? I am making covers that are held in place with velcro and I need to pre-cut both hook and loop velcro to sew to the covers. When many of these pieces need to be cut, it gets tedious measuring and cutting and keeping them in order for use (they're notorious for wanting to mate with one another you know). Any ideas?
General Discussion / Scam?
February 25, 2011, 02:14:54 am
Odd phone call I got yesterday. The woman who called said she was an operator for the hearing impaired and would translate a call from a potential customer. The customer wanted a price on "Kitchen couches" I said I didn't know what was meant by that and gave my email address for them to send a picture. Then, they wanted my address so they could deliver them by a third party who would pay the entire amount of $3500.00 (their price, I didn't name one). They then went on to explain that the customer was in the hospital with some serious sounding illnesses (so why are they concerned with having reupholstery work done at this time, I wondered?) and that they would be giving me a credit card for that amount and a delivery person would need to get half of that back from me when they delivered. (Big red flags going up now) I told them they were getting ahead of themselves and the operator said "they hung up". This, after I was on the line with them for about ten minutes waiting for the translation. Next time it's, "sorry, don't have the time right now, call some other time"
The Business Of Upholstery / Small jobs
December 17, 2010, 12:03:09 am
Once in a while, someone will come in to the shop with a small job, one that requires about 20-30 minutes work. It's not too small to give away as a goodwill gift, but not large enough to charge an hour's worth of labor either. Or is it? What do you generally charge for this type of job, The first hour? or something less?
General Discussion / Feeling underappreciated? Read this
November 05, 2010, 01:53:20 am
World reknown violinist Joshua Bell's performance at a Washington D.C. Metro station a few years ago.
From Wikipedia:
In a curious experiment initiated by Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten, Bell donned a baseball cap and played as an incognito street busker at the Metro subway station L'Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C. on January 12, 2007. The experiment was videotaped on hidden camera; among 1,097 people who passed by, only seven stopped to listen to him, and only one recognized him. For his nearly 45-minute performance, Bell collected $32.17 from 27 passersby (excluding $20 from the passerby who recognized him).[6] Weingarten won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for his article on the experiment.[10][11]

Here's a link to an article by the columnist who started the whole thing:

This got me thinking, this experiment may have more to do with our fast-paced society not having the time to stop and smell the roses, but it also shows the importance of presentation. I think it's pretty much a fact that how you present a product or service has as much or more to do with what you can ask for it as the quality of the product itself. This has implications for we who sometimes struggle to get what we think we deserve for the skill we possess and the time we put into our work. Well presented, a customer may very well pay a good bit more for a product or service than if it is perceived as "just another....whatever". What do you think?
I'm basically a one person operation, although my wife is here 3days/week part days to do the billing, ordering etc. Since I do all of the production work, it's not that hard to track my time as long as I remember to log in and out of the customer jobs. I've done this as a study for weeklong periods over the years and it seems to come up about the same. For a 50 hour week, my productive time comes out to be around 25 hrs. or 50%. That means that my labor rate has to cover the other 50% and then some to make a profit. Has anyone else tracked their time?