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Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Why do we have to wait for gear? on 08/09/2013 03:29:50 MDT Print View

Personally I am happy to wait for high quality gear that is made in country and provides employment in the local community. I like to have clear communication about when I will receive the product and an email when it has been despatched (with a tracking number).

Businesses are often told to take on debt and scale up. This, however, can potentially impact the company's long term sustainability and result in the owner/company no longer doing what they enjoy doing and/or are good at.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Why do we have to wait for gear? on 08/09/2013 06:55:05 MDT Print View

I had good communication with ZPacks, even when Joe was on holiday. And, though I did not buy anything from Tim at EE yet, he did reply to me regarding his cuben quilts and why they were the last to be relisted (temporarily). I'd be nervous too about extra debt or gearing up, then only to see something change. After all, I am debt free except for my monthly credit card purchases of vintage stoves.
Duane

James Reilly
(zippymorocco)

Locale: Montana
Impulse on 08/09/2013 08:02:41 MDT Print View

I think it's a conspiracy to keep us from being impulse buyers.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Why do we have to wait for gear?" on 08/09/2013 11:05:02 MDT Print View

As a person who has run a couple businesses - and currently works for a mom and pop organization as their sole employee in a company of 3 people- inventory management is very difficult, especially for small companies. Every business would prefer to have exactly what their customer wants, right now. But inventory is the highest cost of running a business outside of the initial capital expenditures (building, equipment) and employees. If these businesses are going to continue doing what they do best- making high quality custom gear- then carrying a great deal of finished product on their shelves takes money away from the day-to-day operations. Bear in mind they already have a high investment in equipment, raw materials, and people. Shelf inventory is money that's just sitting around. Every business I've been in has struggled with when to stock inventory and how much. You don't want to lose a sale, but you have to weigh that against what it would cost to keep inventory on the shelf. And many small businesses go under when they make a decision to start carrying inventory or to expand. So it's not a decision to be taken lightly. If you lose 10% of your inquiries because you've got a 2-4 week wait on your high quality product, that may be worth it weighed against the potential loss of your business entirely when you wrap too much capital up in carry on-hand inventory.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Why do we have to wait for gear? on 08/09/2013 11:21:15 MDT Print View

My first managerial job, you'd get hit with merchandise the head office bought for you, then the second managerial job of a convenience store, you had no problem buying merchandise, just had to keep the employees from making off with cigarettes, eating inventory on their shift, a high pilferage area unfortunately. I was allowed 1% shrinkage was all. I understand the money part being tied up in goods waiting for a buyer. I did not do the math Joe cited, with all his configurations of packs and bags. It would be nice if folks like him and Tim at EE had a way to track the larger sellers and have some of that item stocked. I've never pushed for gear to be made faster for me, I've planned ahead and bought when I had the money, usually after taxes and bonuses came out.
Duane

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Why do we have to wait for gear? on 08/09/2013 12:45:29 MDT Print View

FWIW, Tim does have some "stock" items. Mostly RevX 20* and 30* in standard black/black. They have the shells made up and stuff them when the order comes is, presumably so you can still choose overstuff if you want. The site claims average wait time is 3 days versus the 3 weeks I'm going to wait for mine. Personally, I don't mind the wait if it means I get the color combination and options I want.

Adam

Corbin Camp
(heycorb)

Locale: Southeast
Quality gear is worth the wait on 08/09/2013 15:54:10 MDT Print View

When I drop the cash for a big ticket item made how I want it, I want the builder to do it right. If that takes a little time, so be it.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Quality gear is worth the wait on 08/09/2013 17:04:47 MDT Print View

Six months ago I ordered a cuben fiber item from one of the cottage manufacturers. Four or five days later, I received the package. The correct item was not included. Instead, they shipped the raw cuben fiber material and that was all. (They don't even sell the raw material.) Obviously, I raised hell with the company. So, four or five days later, I received the second package with the correct stuff. I certainly don't intend to ever do business with them. If they can't get my first purchase correct for a single simple item, then they probably don't get another chance. There seem to be other cottage companies that get it right the first time, even if it takes them some days to do it.

--B.G.--

Tim Marshall
(MarshLaw303) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Re: Why do we have to wait for gear? on 08/09/2013 22:19:40 MDT Print View

How is EE in the same boat?

Our longest wait is 3 weeks and its normally just over 2. As stated by Aaron we have a number of items Instock and ready to ship in a day or two. How long should it take to build something from scratch with literally thousands of possible configurations and options?

We are ramped up full speed. We can build hundreds of quilts each month and each week build stock as we never have as many orders as we can handle. I see companies with wait time out past 5-8 weeks or all their products out of stock. That isn't us and any comparison to that is totally unfair.

-Tim

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Why do we have to wait for gear? on 08/09/2013 23:06:42 MDT Print View

Hi Tim, sorry for any finger pointing, just seems many small companies have a wait time for gear. Good to hear you are gearing up to get product out. You've done good to be able to make changes and move along and be in good shape to get some back stock. Sounds like you have been able to track sales trends and make changes for the better and keep sales growing. I'll shut up now, don't have a good way of expressing myself.
Duane

Tim Marshall
(MarshLaw303) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Re: Why do we have to wait for gear? on 08/09/2013 23:32:22 MDT Print View

I get that waiting sucks. I just don't want to be the bad guy on this one. Since we relaunched oct 2011 our wait times have only gotten shorter. Minus the rare material sourcing issue our times have gone down instead of up so I just want to be the one guy in the clear on this issue.

I don't know how I could do it faster apart from moving my sewing out of homes and into a shop but to me that looses a lot of what I have worked to build. My sewers are essentially self employed contractors who set their own hours, weekly goals and each of them work dang hard to make high quality products at a pace I think is very reasonable for something built to order.

I have increased my stock massively in the last few months and this helps for everyone who needs products quick. I have also started allowing rush jobs for an exa $20 so we can take an order thurs and ship it wed for a true built to order product (nothing done up front) that flies out the doors. i haven't advertised this I yet as its still in trial stages but I think it has to be the best deal going for built to your specs gear done super fast

I'm not here to fight but I just needed to be heard on this one

-Tim

Jared Baker
(simply_light) - MLife

Locale: Midwest, US
Re: Re: Why do we have to wait for gear? on 08/10/2013 19:37:33 MDT Print View

"comes down to the owner what sort of vision they have for the business and subsequently the sort of complaints they are willing to tolerate."

I agree. Some, may not want to expand outside of a one-man outfit. Maybe they don't want to be responsible for employees, enjoy the hands on aspect of the business vs. managing, want full control over their products, etc. Obviously, they will have higher wait times than another cottage industry business who decides to to expand their operation to satisfy a greater number of customers, but also continue to offer customization.

What is great about pretty much all cottage industry businesses, is that they want to make their customers happy with high quality products tailored to them. You are not going to find that with the mass manufacturers.

The price? A longer wait time. Is it worth it? Only the buyer can decide that.

I'd much rather hear complaints about waiting than issues with quality control.

And fortunately, if you don't want to wait and cannot get an order expedited, there is always gear swap. I've witnessed many posts of ones wanting a specific piece of gear and the community takes care of them in a short time frame.

peter vacco
(fluff@inreach.com) - M

Locale: no. california
Re: Why do we have to wait for gear? on 08/10/2013 19:38:35 MDT Print View

if you make something fairly decent, and price it reasonably, demand may well exceed production capacity during the season.
thusly, order times fall behind and people are then "waiting".
to reduce the waiting, one can reduce the demand load by raising prices. and that will work.
or, one can work more hours, and that ruins your life and your real job. it is not sustainable over time.
or, one can figure out how to make more product in less time. there are limits to that in the real world, and it can involve vast investments of capital in equipment that may, or may not, pay off. manufacturers work on that equation All the time.
or, one can outsource production to people who do not care squat about quality and things that have your name on them. that gets old pretty fast too.
or, one can work until demand exhausts inventory and stop selling for the year. and that will work.
or, one can work steadily, polish production methodology, keep prices reasonable, and generally figure out that in limited amounts, "waiting" not only costs the manufacturer almost Nothing, but actually Increases the value of his labor. and that will work.

so you see, in a cottage industry scenario, there are several workable choices.
---
i vastly prefer to sell from a position of having stock. it's much more fun to sell from a substantial quantity of already built gear. i do not enjoy being behind. but once the inventory wears off ... wait happens.

more : i remain unresolved as to the morality of raising prices beyond what i think the product is worth. i know as a capitalist, i should let the market make that determination, and i am fine with that. but unfortunately, i was raised in a more confused environment, and so crossed signals can obscure the serene beauty of economic purity.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: "Why do we have to wait for gear?" on 08/10/2013 19:45:03 MDT Print View

"As a person who has run a couple businesses - and currently works for a mom and pop organization as their sole employee in a company of 3 people- inventory management is very difficult, especially for small companies. Every business would prefer to have exactly what their customer wants, right now. But inventory is the highest cost of running a business outside of the initial capital expenditures (building, equipment) and employees. If these businesses are going to continue doing what they do best- making high quality custom gear- then carrying a great deal of finished product on their shelves takes money away from the day-to-day operations. Bear in mind they already have a high investment in equipment, raw materials, and people. Shelf inventory is money that's just sitting around. Every business I've been in has struggled with when to stock inventory and how much. You don't want to lose a sale, but you have to weigh that against what it would cost to keep inventory on the shelf. And many small businesses go under when they make a decision to start carrying inventory or to expand. So it's not a decision to be taken lightly. If you lose 10% of your inquiries because you've got a 2-4 week wait on your high quality product, that may be worth it weighed against the potential loss of your business entirely when you wrap too much capital up in carry on-hand inventory."

I started to write this exact post. There is also another element to consider when a business is rapidly growing like a couple of UL companies I know. As a business expends cash flow is critical. It is counterintuitive but trust me it is absolutely truth. Without an extremely high margin a Company can actually grow themselves to bankruptcy because they run out of working capital. Because of this keeping inventory at a minimum becomes one of the main tactics of successful small businesses.

Desert Dweller
(Drusilla)

Locale: Wild Wild West
Wait on 08/10/2013 20:43:58 MDT Print View

All the business and economy babble aside.....nice things are worth the wait. Especially handmade, custom things. Quality takes time and dedication. How many people do you personally know who make a living producing custom products? Not many I bet.
I was a seamstress and had a one person business and that was while running a ranch and maintaining a family, which I am sure others here can relate to. My ensembles took four to five weeks to produce and were custom fitted to each person. I simply could not produce more than eleven of these ensembles a year, I did after all have to take a month off to rest! After two decades I retired to hike and paint and what a relief, no more cranky customers that "want it now".
So, why the wait, cause we can not possibly pull rabbits out of hats, that's why!

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - M

Locale: Southeast
A lot of good points on 08/10/2013 22:15:40 MDT Print View

Enjoyed this thread. The waiting sucks, but I understand it is necessary in order for most of these businesses to survive. With that said, you do have to give high praise to those folks who make a custom product while still having quick turnaround time. Both Zimmer and ULA exceeded my expectations in that regard.

Ryan

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
vote on 08/11/2013 02:10:10 MDT Print View

vote with your money ...

no one is forcing anyone to buy the gear ... you dont NEED the gear .. there are plenty of alternatives that plenty of people use just fine ...

i bet you can do just as much and have as much fun with some other gear

;)

Jason Mahler
(jrmahler) - M

Locale: Michigan
It's how business works on 08/11/2013 10:58:03 MDT Print View

To put it simple, you have to wait for your gear because this is what the market demands and how business works. Look at any business model and it is obvious that there is a trade off in what can be offered. For Zpacks, they focus on customization, cost, and quality over delivery time. If they focused on delivery time, they would either have to reduce customization, increase cost (more staff, more equipment), or lessen quality (temp workers, faster equipment).

If you look at the BPL forums for 5 minutes and you can see that most people prioritize customization and quality first. Cost is in the mix, but often not a main requirement if the first two are great. Delivery time is way down the list after these other two. Based on this, Zpacks strategy is excellent.

If you look outside of backpacking, this is the way of everything. Go to a restaurant. If you want great food, it is costlier and takes time to make. If you want specific features on a vehicle, you have to order it. Anyone in industry knows that you can't just get a custom part off the shelf, but in some cases have to wait months and even years to get it (try to order a 8" alloy valve for a chemical process...you will wait 24+ weeks for it).

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Why do we have to wait for gear? on 08/11/2013 19:32:15 MDT Print View

I have no intention with this topic, of making any gear maker the bad guy, or making it seem they are.:) I feel it is good that many of the companies hang out here, a plus in my book.
Off next weekend for camping with some Coleman collectors in the Sierra. :)
Duane

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
wait on 08/11/2013 20:48:41 MDT Print View

I think the answer is simple, there is a wait because zpacks doesn't pay slave workers 50 cents an hour over in China like mainstream companies!