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Thread: Strong Frames

  1. #81
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl S View Post
    As for retirement, I hope to never stop building although as I grow older I may continue to reduce my output. I'm also aware I won't be able to work forever so I do have a retirement plan and will be able to continue supporting myself once I stop building.
    Curious: When you do stop building do you see yourself selling off the company to a promising young builder (maybe one you've trained), or will you dissolve it? Or is that thinking too far ahead?
     

  2. #82
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl S View Post
    Of course, we have we have a set of toomanybikes dedicated fixtures we can build them on.
    You know, I was halfway afraid that that might be the case.
     

  3. #83
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by theckeler View Post
    Curious: When you do stop building do you see yourself selling off the company to a promising young builder (maybe one you've trained), or will you dissolve it? Or is that thinking too far ahead?
    Hopefully I'll never have to quit but if I do I imagine the business won't have any value so if sell anything it will just be the shop tools.

    Which brings me back to Conor's question about branding. I might have made a more absolute statement than I should have. I said selling frames isn't only about the bikes but in some cases it can be. A framebuilding business can be anything and I think the further you get from the builder the more likely you are to build intrinsic value and have a sellable business.

    The one caveat is that as a custom builder you probably have to start by building the brand around the builder and work out from there. Most will never get beyond that but many won't ever get to that. That's why in my business seminar I talk about a business model based on a single builder working from home. If you are gong to make a living in this business that's where you have to start. Once you accomplish that you can decide where to go from there. Different people have different skills and goals in my case I tried to grow out but learned that it wasn't for me and I went back to a one man (and wife) operation. Currently I work from a commercial space but it's my goal to build a shop at my house and move back to my home.
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  4. #84
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl S View Post
    Hopefully I'll never have to quit but if I do I imagine the business won't have any value so if sell anything it will just be the shop tools.

    Which brings me back to Conor's question about branding. I might have made a more absolute statement than I should have. I said selling frames isn't only about the bikes but in some cases it can be. A framebuilding business can be anything and I think the further you get from the builder the more likely you are to build intrinsic value and have a sellable business.

    The one caveat is that as a custom builder you probably have to start by building the brand around the builder and work out from there. Most will never get beyond that but many won't ever get to that. That's why in my business seminar I talk about a business model based on a single builder working from home. If you are gong to make a living in this business that's where you have to start. Once you accomplish that you can decide where to go from there. Different people have different skills and goals in my case I tried to grow out but learned that it wasn't for me and I went back to a one man (and wife) operation. Currently I work from a commercial space but it's my goal to build a shop at my house and move back to my home.
    this is good speak
    from a smart fellow
    and some stuff there that I have pondered over in my cranium many times
    Punters say "how good and cheap it is work from home"
    I explain
    if I croak it tomorrow, it is worth nothing to my MaryAnn or any body but a for a fire sale of tools and stock.
    So one should make a saving and bank that saving if possible for the day when you have to stop.
    If one owns a fish and chip shop, if you have to or the time arrives you can sell it as an on going business.
    but the one man show.......................
    So when one moves on from getting established ,
    then running a good show for many years, decades
    then there is the time when one has to think of retirement
    A one person established frame builder will have a hard time moving into retirement or forced retirement if the body gives out, all those years of toil have not built any business equity.
    It is hard to get that $ value back.
    So when they say " but you love it" I want to head butt them, HARD!
    I personally do not want to build frames till I croak it, I can and will satisfy my metal working urges in my hobby of live model steam locos.


    "A framebuilding business can be anything and I think the further you get from the builder the more likely you are to build intrinsic value and have a sellable business. "

    Carl, have you any thoughts on how a builder can further them self from the process
    with out removing the very essence of what makes the one/two person show work so well in our niche?
    This ? is what perplexes me. I have no idea how I could manage this.
    and because of this
    if some one {fool} offered me substatial sum of $ I will sell Llewellyn Custom Bicycles without hestitation.
    Even my business name I chose in 1988 reflected this thought process.
    Last edited by Dazza; 05-13-2010 at 07:10 PM. Reason: the stars and planets needed realigning
    Cheers Dazza
    The rock star is dying. And it's a small tragedy. Rock stars have blogs now. I have no use for that kind of rock star.
    Nick Cave

    www.llewellynbikes.com
    The usual Facebook page
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/llewellyncustombicycles/
    Darrell Llewellyn McCulloch

  5. #85
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl S View Post
    Hopefully I'll never have to quit but if I do I imagine the business won't have any value so if sell anything it will just be the shop tools.

    Which brings me back to Conor's question about branding. I might have made a more absolute statement than I should have. I said selling frames isn't only about the bikes but in some cases it can be. A framebuilding business can be anything and I think the further you get from the builder the more likely you are to build intrinsic value and have a sellable business.

    The one caveat is that as a custom builder you probably have to start by building the brand around the builder and work out from there. Most will never get beyond that but many won't ever get to that. That's why in my business seminar I talk about a business model based on a single builder working from home. If you are gong to make a living in this business that's where you have to start. Once you accomplish that you can decide where to go from there. Different people have different skills and goals in my case I tried to grow out but learned that it wasn't for me and I went back to a one man (and wife) operation. Currently I work from a commercial space but it's my goal to build a shop at my house and move back to my home.
    How many times over the years have I written reports, or given seminars where I have had to try to explain, and make people understand, the difference between "personal goodwill" , "Brand goodwill", "business goodwill" and "enterprise value".

    I can often have trouble making bankers understand it.

    Seems a bike builder gets it.
     

  6. #86
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Dazza View Post
    Carl, have you any thoughts on how a builder can further them self from the process
    with out removing the very essence of what makes the one/two person show work so well in our niche?
    Dazza, I don't know. I can guess like anyone else but I really don't know. I'd be interested in hearing what others think or know. Here is a guess:

    Simplify what you offer and make it easy to understand, buy and of course desirable to the largest range of customer.
    Make sure you can build it and scale the production and set up for future demand.
    Hire and train an employee because you're going to need to spend a bunch of time on marketing, sales and administration.
    Be sure to document all procedures and process so they are consistent, can be trained and perpetuated.
    Set up distribution channels, retails, e-commerce or whatever.
    Build and execute marketing and PR campaign. You'll probably have to use debt or equity investors to pay for this.
    Take order and deliver.

    Of course this is a WAG and sequence and time table can very. I can see it happening very slowly over time and I can also a well funded entrepreneur doing it rather quickly. Remember Airborn bikes?

    How does that sound for starters, again I'm just guessing...I really don't know.

    Anyone else care to take a stab at it?
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  7. #87
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by toomanybikes View Post
    How many times over the years have I written reports, or given seminars where I have had to try to explain, and make people understand, the difference between "personal goodwill" , "Brand goodwill", "business goodwill" and "enterprise value".

    I can often have trouble making bankers understand it.

    Seems a bike builder gets it.
    Maybe kinda gets it. It was 10 years before it started coming into focus and I still have a long way to go. It's funny how you can "know" something long before you "get" it. Every time I finally "get" something I look back and wonder how I could have known that for so long without "getting" it. Maybe I'm just a little more dense than most people
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  8. #88
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Dear Mister Strong,

    There are two sides to every transaction. I hang out on VSalon because in the next few years I want a handbuilt frame or two. I don't see the customer discussed very much.

    What do you think the customer should bring to the table? On your site you talk about how you lead the customer through the process. But what are the things I should know about myself, my bikes, and my cycling style before I take the plunge? Finally, what makes a customer a real pleasure to work with?
     

  9. #89
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    How far back do you keep customer records, and how complete are they? Do you record what tubes were used and keep the drawing?
     

  10. #90
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    "Carl, have you any thoughts on how a builder can further them self from the process
    with out removing the very essence of what makes the one/two person show work so well in our niche?"
    You know, I typed a whole crapload of stuff, but then realised I couldn't name a single man shop that sold up that didn't implode shortly thereafter.

    Mantis? Imploded.
    Fat City? Imploded.

    Oh wait, Yeti!

    I can think of many factors that could help switch the focus from the originator onto the brand, and I think therein lies the key.

    Sacha White is doing a good job with this, bolstered by his Speedwagen brand. He's setting himself up as a designer rather than a builder, but IMHO his business will have greater longevity because of it.

    Am I on the right track?
    FRAMEBUILDING PARTS FOR SALE!

  11. #91
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    interesting ride from solo builder to some production and back.

    the middle is tough ground.
    long history of companies trying to grow into relatively small production is littered with corpses.
    that 1,500-2,500 frames a year territory is the toughest.

    very few cases of long term success.
     

  12. #92
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by brucew View Post
    Dear Mister Strong,

    There are two sides to every transaction. I hang out on VSalon because in the next few years I want a handbuilt frame or two. I don't see the customer discussed very much.

    What do you think the customer should bring to the table? On your site you talk about how you lead the customer through the process. But what are the things I should know about myself, my bikes, and my cycling style before I take the plunge? Finally, what makes a customer a real pleasure to work with?
    Every builder approaches design differently, I'm a very customer centric designer. Typically when I work with someone, unless they already have experience buying custom frames and know what they want, I like to spend a lot of time working with you on priorities. So it's important that you know what you want from the bike and have realistic expectations. It's my job to help you define your priorities as they relate to the bike and explore the methods used to meet them. The process should be educational and you should have a lot more knowledge and better understanding of how frame design works when it's done. It's also very helpful if you have a strong opinion about your current bike(s) good or bad and an idea of what you would like to change. What makes a customer a pleasure to work with is being open minded, easy to talk to and a sense of humor doesn't hurt.
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  13. #93
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by edoz View Post
    How far back do you keep customer records, and how complete are they? Do you record what tubes were used and keep the drawing?
    I build a paper file for every customer. The file includes order form (which has all frame and part details), design (blueprint) any data or other information they sent me and just about anything else I can print out. It also includes a log of phone conversations. I keep a digital file of all email and documents the customer sends and pictures of the build process and final product. I keep all the files indefinitely and ideally if a customer were to ever contact me needing any information I'd have it.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  14. #94
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Thylacine Cycles View Post
    You know, I typed a whole crapload of stuff, but then realised I couldn't name a single man shop that sold up that didn't implode shortly thereafter.

    Mantis? Imploded.
    Fat City? Imploded.

    Oh wait, Yeti!

    I can think of many factors that could help switch the focus from the originator onto the brand, and I think therein lies the key.

    Sacha White is doing a good job with this, bolstered by his Speedwagen brand. He's setting himself up as a designer rather than a builder, but IMHO his business will have greater longevity because of it.

    Am I on the right track?
    I think you are, I agree with you on Sacha, he's been very clever in the way he's added his Speedvagen brand and separated himself from the actual fabricating and focused on design. It also allows him to pursue his Passion for building with the Vanilla brand.

    I also think the key is in what you said here:

    "You know, I typed a whole crapload of stuff, but then realized I couldn't name a single man shop that sold up that didn't implode shortly thereafter."

    Single man shop is what jumps out at me. I think to produce inherent value you cannot be a single man shop. The whole point is that you can leave the business and it continues to produce revenue. So the trick is, how do you replicate yourself and in doing so how do you keep that from diminishing the value of your product...at least so far that is cannot be made up with volume?

    PS in Sacha's case it was design but we don't all have that talent. For every builder the answer will be different. So the question is how do you figure out what it is, if anything you can do to separate your hands on labor from the product.
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  15. #95
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveP View Post
    interesting ride from solo builder to some production and back.

    the middle is tough ground.
    long history of companies trying to grow into relatively small production is littered with corpses.
    that 1,500-2,500 frames a year territory is the toughest.

    very few cases of long term success.
    Yep, and I'd go as far to say that a lot of the brands that we all assume are successful may not be nearly as well of as we think.
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  16. #96
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveP View Post
    long history of companies trying to grow into relatively small production is littered with corpses.
    Ira Friedman of Bay Audio once said "Our industry is filled with brilliant designers who unfortunately suffered an Entrepenurial Seizure."

    Carl, you mentioned wanting to move your shop out of a commercial space and back into your home. You clearly have a focus & drive that would at least appear immune to this sort of temptation, but, do you ever worry that working from home will make it more difficult to maintain the necessary discipline to be productive?

    Wait, that's a softball question, let me rephrase:

    What, besides rent, are you saving by moving out of a commercial space and back into your home? And what are you sacrificing?

    (Really enjoying this thread btw, thanks.)
     

  17. #97
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
    Ira Friedman of Bay Audio once said "Our industry is filled with brilliant designers who unfortunately suffered an Entrepenurial Seizure."

    Carl, you mentioned wanting to move your shop out of a commercial space and back into your home. You clearly have a focus & drive that would at least appear immune to this sort of temptation, but, do you ever worry that working from home will make it more difficult to maintain the necessary discipline to be productive?

    Wait, that's a softball question, let me rephrase:

    What, besides rent, are you saving by moving out of a commercial space and back into your home? And what are you sacrificing?

    (Really enjoying this thread btw, thanks.)

    Hi Bob, thanks for the questions. I've been asked that a lot. Hopefully what I'll get is freedom, there may be some sacrifice but I doubt it. I've got a friend who is a knife maker who thinks I'm crazy for even thinking about it. He moved from his home shop because he couldn't concentrate on work. he also has children which I don't. I may be fooling myself but I don't anticipate any discipline problems. I'll also do everything I can to create a distinction between personal space and work space.


    The reason I want to move back home is that I built my building in 2002 at a time when my business was completely different then it is now. I have a pretty low basis in it and while it is very nice and I really enjoy the space it's still quite expensive. Without getting too personal, my plans are to sell the building once I can get enough to pay off my home and build a shop, hopefully in about 5 years. So not only will I save the cost of the commercial space but I'll also eliminate my house debt and will be completely debt free (I know I should keep it and rent it but I just don't want to deal with the hassles). The savings will be significant and if all goes as planned it will allow Loretta and I to do a lot more traveling.
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  18. #98
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl S View Post
    Sandals only in the Summer, sock because I think my feet are ugly. I get teased by anyone under 30 but I'm OK with it.
    Ever think about switching to Crocs?
     

  19. #99
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl S View Post
    Dazza, I don't know. I can guess like anyone else but I really don't know. I'd be interested in hearing what others think or know. Here is a guess:

    Simplify what you offer and make it easy to understand, buy and of course desirable to the largest range of customer.
    Make sure you can build it and scale the production and set up for future demand.
    Hire and train an employee because you're going to need to spend a bunch of time on marketing, sales and administration.
    Be sure to document all procedures and process so they are consistent, can be trained and perpetuated.
    Set up distribution channels, retails, e-commerce or whatever.
    Build and execute marketing and PR campaign. You'll probably have to use debt or equity investors to pay for this.
    Take order and deliver.

    Of course this is a WAG and sequence and time table can very. I can see it happening very slowly over time and I can also a well funded entrepreneur doing it rather quickly. Remember Airborn bikes?

    How does that sound for starters, again I'm just guessing...I really don't know.

    Anyone else care to take a stab at it?
    Carl, i took that stab, but moved it to general discussion as I think it's discussion on it's own: subject: where do you go from here
     

  20. #100
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by theckeler View Post
    Ever think about switching to Crocs?
    Nope! I'm sticking with the Adidas sandals.
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

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