Thoughts About Work and Sourcing

This morning while working trough my coffee and web reading I came across a picture that stirred a few emotions, and led me down a path of some further googling, landing at this video that is a few years old:

I am at a juncture with OAC where I either need to sell a truck full of bikes this week, find another round of funding or get a day job.  As much as I would like the first option to happen, the later is the most likely scenario.  (note: A day job does not mean OAC is going away, just that I need to keep cash flowing to help support the household) That in turn has me thinking about the fact that I will be doing a “job” to meet and exceed somebody else’s  expectations.  This is part of life, and I happen to be pretty good at it, IMO.  While the model here at OAC is based on sourcing as much as possible here in the USA, then having fabrication and finish completed here, that is not the most profitable model most companies are using these days.  I hold no illusions as the cost differences of have things made here as opposed to abroad.  The labor cost difference is huge, there is a good reason the Rambler costs almost twice what a similar option does, and trust me, it is not a mountain of profits in my pocket.  The video above makes Maxport look like a pretty good place to work, nicer than many US factories of the past or present.  The thing is, that the word sustainable gets thrown out quite a bit, with an inference towards long term.  But what does that mean?  Not to poke Maxport in the eye, since I do not know them, but what keeps them or future employees from acting out much the way Giant did as an OEM bicycle builder?  What will sustainable mean for their employees in a few years when a similar factory opens up in a different part of the world where the labor costs result in a more profitable product?  Will the Vietnamese economists tell their “boomer” generation to suck it up  and adapt to the new world why their adapted younger generations struggle to find jobs?

As the making of things has been leaving our shores and cheaper labor draws the work in, economists have warned that we in the US need to re-tool and come up to speed with the knowledge economy, and figure out how to sell services.  I think there is a catch to that though.  What do we as a country do with the  millions of people, multiple living generations, who are by no fault of their own, predisposed to being content worker bees, makers of stuff on a production level?  There is a great deal of joy and pride to be found in the making of stuff, even at a production level.  There is still plenty of hope for our country IMO:

Quoddy Workshop – Lewiston, Maine from Oliver Wilkins on Vimeo.

What is the catch?  Stuff made her costs more, because things here cost more for people to live.  Thus the consume is still the one who has to be willing to change the game, make the choice of where and who they want making their stuff. Does made in the USA mean better?  Not always, and there are plenty of people and factories around the world who can make some things better, and as we know for a lower price.  I still think we need to keep the work at all levels in out own yard.  It is a complex economic mess at the moment, but I do know that the factories all over our country are shutting down faster and faster.  The river beds in our region are filling even faster with “campers” in search of the temperate climate and easily found foods.  Something has to give.  It is up to us to make the choices with our wallets that will bring on the change in our own playground.  I have no problem with people in other countries, or the fact that they make things.  I just like me, my neighbors and countrymen to have a fighting chance at long-term success.  Made in the USA does matter, it makes a difference in how many people are shopping in the grocery store as opposed to standing out front with “will work for food” signs

The picture sparking this morning’s rant from the FYIdesigndept blog?

I may have shot myself in the foot as I click on publish, or sparked the fire of change, time will tell.  Now back to work, so there will be time for a ride at lunch.

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9 Responses to Thoughts About Work and Sourcing

  1. Mark says:

    Right on, brother – and well stated! We seem to have arrived at some sort of precipice and need to make a fundamental decision about who we are, and what are values are.

  2. cbleslie says:

    Have you considered Kickstarter?

    • Rob says:

      I looked into it, and have had some big thoughts. Like all the options it has pros and cons. As things are coming to a head I am considering it more seriously, mostly for the viral marketing aspect. I have a rough sketch/outline of how I would run it, and will likely implement the plan if things do not start to turn n the next two weeks.

      I really had hoped that the ball would get rolling through my other marketing channels. I have a good amount of traffic, but need get over the hump on closing the deals.

      • cbleslie says:

        Make a post to http://www.reddit.com/r/bicycling

        Be honest with that community, let them know the situation you’re in, and let them know you’re taking orders for frames, and that you’re considering a Kickstarter. The community is generally pretty savvy and there are some like minded people when it comes to what the bikes are going to be made for. Most of all, post pictures. :) They will love to see it.

  3. Ronnie Allen says:

    Well said and sooooo true. I’m very proud of what you stand for and what you do. I would hope more AMERICANS see and do the same. Great Job Rob!!!!

  4. Just Bob says:

    To the point and well thought out. For many of the reasons stated the American Consumer with money to spend have little interst in where the good is made.
    The more selective thinker would value Made in the USA more – look at the Olympics and they found that getting uniforms off shore is acceptable and justified that action.

    Marketing works when the reader/consumer sees the value. Best of Fortune to you.

  5. Daniel says:

    It’s been quiet since you posted this, Rob. How is it going?

    You have done great things in terms of launching your brand, designing a well-thought-out product, and drumming up interest in a number of ways. You’ve had a lot of mention on forums and in conversation. Truly commendable!

    I’m in the market for a large 650B rando bike. If the larger Ramblers came with 650B, I’d be placing an order.

    All the best!

    • Rob says:

      Thanks Daniel, Things have been busy, not bad, just busy. Sales are slow, and I need to re-assess the way I am getting this off of the ground. In the mean time, keeping the lights on means back to a day job, or night if that is what I find. I am leaning heavily towards a Kickstarter project, if I can get 30-50 bikes into production, that will make the whole thing work, that and selling said bikes.

      I am curios how much you weigh and which size Rambler you would be on? and the preference for 650b? In the smaller sizes it makes a great deal of sense, but from a pure design standpoint there plenty of reasons to go towards 700c, particularly with the increasing number of 700 x 38-42 high quality tires trickling into the market.

      • Daniel says:

        I’d be on a 59 or 61. I weigh 175 and I love Hetres. I haven’t been on a 700C tire that was as fast and smooth as the Hetre. Grand Bois doesn’t make anything wider than 32mm in 700C, though I haven’t ridden that tire, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t give me the plush ride I’m looking for. I’m not sure of other brands, but I’m all ears if you have something to suggest.

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