Many of my closest friends tell me I am too open with you guys. I always respond by telling them that, when I say I think of each of my customers as a friend, I am serious. I know it is a little naive, and I will get burned from time to time, I don’t care. The day I stop thinking of you as a friend is the day I close the doors at TMD. So, please understand that it is as a friend that I now share a recurring struggle with you — a struggle that can and does threaten the continued existence of TMD, itself.
There are two things I did not know when I started TMD. Looking back, it’s a good thing I didn’t because, had I known then what I know now, I never would have started this company. What are those two things? First, if you start a resin company, you are abandoning your hobby. Instead of being a modeler, you are going to become a resin caster, and they are not the same thing. I have not completed a model since I started this company in 2001. The second thing I didn’t know is that there is very little money in this industry. In fact, the most common reason for a resin company going out of business is that they simply go broke. I know: I’ve come very, very close to that fate, myself.
Both of these things can wear on a guy. I am still a modeler at heart. I see all the great new stuff being released and I want so badly to join in the fun. But I can’t, not any more. Every time I try to become a modeler again, I find myself wondering what masters I can make related to the kit in my hands, and the next thing I know, I am back to becoming a resin producer again. It has become an obsession, but it is killing me. The struggle takes the joy out of making resin products. In fact, were it not for the way I see you guys, and the belief that I am serving you by making my products, I would quit TMD. Still, I keep trying to find a way to becoming a modeler who makes resin.
This is where the other side of the double-edged knife rears its ugly head. The struggle to become a modeler has two dangerous side effects. First, it causes me to lose focus. I start looking at everything, and wanting to build and make stuff for every new kit that hits the market. I also start to buy many of these new kits. Both cause financial strains on TMD. Resin companies are never cash-rich, and they are new-product driven. So, anything that slows down the rate of new releases, or that takes funding away from making new products can and usually does place financial strains on the company. This has bitten me in the butt before, and it has started to nibble at me again. But that isn’t the part that has me in a funk these past few days. That would be something else: something you know, and I mention often.
I — me, Joe — am the third and most dangerous enemy of TMD. I am lazy. Actually, that’s not true. I have a tendency to not deal with things that bother me. So, when I start feeling the need to model, and cash is tight, I start working on anything and everything but the things I need to do to keep TMD running. If you have followed me this summer and fall, you have seen this at work.
I never bothered to learn how to make and maintain my own web site, so, when it became necessary that I do so this past summer, it took my time away from making new masters. This hurt sales. In fact, it hurt a lot. Then I had some other administrative chores reach a point where I finally had to focus on them. That took my time away from new masters even more. Then the T6 project took my time, and worse, it did not sell! Then I got to doing other things, because that’s how I am. I made BB’s flower garden and put in the flag pole. I just finished her piano room. I have cleaned and organized the shop several times. All of these are forms of denial or refusal to deal with the mess I was making. Now, just recently, I tried to find a short cut to update my packing materials so I could try to get dealer sales back. But I was looking for shortcuts — again — and it bit me in the wallet — again! So, now?
Now TMD is in trouble again, and it is my own doing. I have repeated mistakes I knew better than to make. But that doesn’t help. Knowing I am to blame makes me get down on myself, which furthers the spiral. If I were a pilot and TMD were a plane, I would recognize that, if I can’t get out of this now, I will soon be in a death spiral once more.
Luckily, I am a little better than the person I was back when I burned out and sold TMD to my brother, but just a little better, no more. I know what I have to do to correct things. I just have to find the motivation to get out of my funk and make it happen before it’s too late. But I have a plan. The current limited release of my cancelled conversions is part of that, but so is my decision to take the next 2 weeks to build and finish a model. If I can’t do that, I’ll sell off everything I have acquired for me, personally. And if sales do not pick up, or selling off my personal modeling stash does not correct the cash flow problems, then I will find a job and run TMD as a side-job, like so many in this field have had to do. However, what I will not do, what I refuse to do is let this cycle get to the point where it causes trouble between me and BB, like it did the last time. That will not happen.
Well, there you go. Now you know what has been bothering me the last few months, and why things are not getting done around here. It’s me — all me. And I hate it (and myself). I know better. but, more than that, I hate feeling as though I have let you down. If I have, I apologize. I hope you will forgive me. The Lord is teaching me just how much of a flawed human being I am, and it is a tough lesson to learn…