If you follow Joe’s Corner, or my updates on the web site, you probably know that I discontinued the larger kits and conversions in my product line. the reasons are simple: they are too expensive to produce. They take up too much of my casting time in the shop. And — most importantly — too few customers want them badly enough to pay what I have to charge for them. That last part is a little disheartening, especially when one considers that I sell my products at what would be wholesale prices for most other companies. Still, I admit that I am torn over my decision to discontinue the larger kits.
They do take a lot of time and effort to develop. That means they absolutely must do well, or they can kill this company. If I take the time to develop a large product. This leaves me with a choice: I can either make that one large item, or dozens of smaller ones. Since this is a new-product driven industry, if I make that one large product and it doesn’t sell and sell fairly well, then I run a real risk of suffering a break in cash flow. As anyone who is familiar with running a business knows, cash flow is everything. I may have thousands in monies due, that won’t save me if there is no money on hand to pay the bills. So, if I make that large kit and it doesn’t sell, I may not be able to survive long enough to produce a bunch of smaller products in time to get the cash flowing again before the bills are due. This is why large kits are always a financial gamble for small companies such as TMD, because they can easily put you out of business.
Another problem for me is the time it takes to make these kits. The Bergepanther conversion takes about 2 – 2 /2 hours to pour, de-mold, clean up and package. In that same time, I could fill a dealer order of smaller items that wholesales for five times or more than the retail price of the Bergepanther. Again, this does not make much sense financially.
However, I am also a modeler and I love these larger kits and conversions. Not only do I think they are beautiful models, many of the subjects are not available in plastic. That means our kits and conversions were often the only game in town. Additionally, I like them because I consider them ‘signature piece.’ By that, I mean they show off what TMD can do. But I have come to see that aspect as vanity, and it plays less of a role in my pull toward the larger kits. When it comes right down to it, there is still a demand for these kits and conversions, and I have always tried to respond to your needs. This sense of duty has been made all the more acute now that I see my service to you as my way to serve the Lord.
I’ve looked at this, and I could work the larger kits and conversions back into the product line — but it will take time. I can make them easier and faster to produce by changing the way I make the molds. But the molds will still take time and cost about $200-$250/kit to produce. And that time would have to come from the time I have set aside for my personal pursuits in this hobby, as well as my family time. I confess, I am jealous of that time. It has been keeping me from burning out again. Then again, the big kits and conversions accounted for 10-15% of my gross sales every year. While that’s not going to make anyone rich, it isn’t anything to sneeze at, either.
So, taken all together, I simply do not know what to do about these kits. I love them, and I’d love to put them back on the market. But that will take time and money I do not have. On top of that, the risks associated with making any new products of the same size as the T6 or Bergepanther are too great — at least at this point in time. Then again, I exist to serve you guys, and many of you have been emailing me and asking for these larger kits. In the few months since I suspended them, I have had at least one inquiry for each of the larger items — even a request for the FLAK 88 Famo conversion.
Argh!!!! I don’t know what to do!!!
[And you say you want to run a resin company, huh? LOL, I have one I’ll sell you. It even comes with a top-notch pattern maker — IF you have enough cash, that is 😉 ]