My recent year-end break seemed to me like a repeat of the one I had two years ago, when we lost our female schnauzer, Suzy. This time, I lost one of the two brothers, Chip. For whatever reason, after the hurricane (Michael), Chip started watching TV with me. He would also come up to the office after BB went to bed at night and just hang out with me. I had not realized just how big a part of my life Chip had become until we lost him to cancer. But losing Chip did more than just make me sad and side-track my attempts to make new masters. It got me to thinking about life: specifically how bad of a merchant, friend, son and husband I have been for the majority of my life. After dwelling on these things for the past week or so, I have decided that I am going to make some changes in my life. This post will share the changes I am thinking about making with TMD.
The first thing I realized is that I have not kept up with my commitment to be the best resin company in the market. To put it in one short sentence: I have grown lazy! Starting with my existing product line, I realized that I have allowed our older products to age. The listings on my web store have needed to be edited and more or better pictures need to be posted. I should have cross-linked certain products to help customers find additional products that might aid them in their builds. I haven’t bothered to work on the instruction sheets that have needed to be made or updated. I have neglected to replace molds as often as I once did. I have allowed some items to ‘fall off’ the web store, so that they are no longer available even though the molds are sitting on my shelves. Probably worst of all, I have stopped advertising my product lie. In short, I have been resting on my laurels, and it has been showing on this end for some time.
Next, I have allowed my relationship with my customers to grow cold. I need to do a better job of answering emails and attending to product support. I also need to pay more attention to the people who ask me for help and advice. Finally, I need to keep up my regular updates, and to keep sharing the ‘human’ side of who I am and what I do here at TMD. I know a few people have said they don’t care about these things, but more of you have emailed to say that my openness is one of the things you have most appreciated about me and TMD.
Finally, I have allowed myself to chase after far too many squirrels. For the first 15 years I ran TMD, I focused almost solely on 1/35 scale WW II armor. In the past 5 years, I have allowed myself to get interested in modern armor, 1/35 scale S-Boats, 1/35 helicopters and aircraft and a lot of 1/48 scale aviation subjects. My time is limited as it is, I did not need to divide it by letting myself get distracted like I did. I tried to tell myself that I would start making products for all these areas, which would help TMD by growing my income and allowing me to expand operations again. I was lying to myself and I know it. All I managed to do was waste time planning new masters that never got made and misdirect assets that could have been better spent on making 1/35 WW II armor-related products that could have been completed. The time has come to correct this, as well.
Finally, I have spent too much time worrying about 3D printing. I gave in to fear about what it will mean for me and TMD, and for my ability to keep making my living by selling resin modelling products. Well, I am no longer afraid of what is going to happen. The truth is, 3D printing will end TMD, and soon. But it isn’t going to end me the way most people might think. I now understand what the most likely direction 3D printing is going to go in our hobby, and I have accepted this. In truth, it was actually liberating as it means I have about 2, maybe three years left before TMD will no longer support me and I will have to move on to the next phase in my life. All that remains is to do my best to make sure these last few years are the best years TMD has even had.
I am now thinking hard about what I want to do with TMD in 2022. I still have many products I have always wanted TMD to sell. Oddly enough, most of them are Sherman-related. I still have a love for German armor, and there are many products I want to make for this area, as well. I don’t know if I’ll have enough time to finish my out-standing ‘wish list’ of new items or not, but there is one thing I do know: everything I want to make in whatever time I have left is WWII-related. Sine I know time is short, this means I need to focus my mastering efforts on this ‘wish list’ of ideas. It also means that all the other distractions need to go. This means giving up on my plans to make anything for 1/35 scale S-Boats, as well as modern armor. I honestly don’t think I will have time to get to any of these things before technology makes resin obsolete. The thing for me to do now is just accept this and act accordingly.
Therefore, I am going to start gathering everything I have acquired that is not WWII-related so I can sell it to those who might make better use of it. This will happen soon, and I will start by using this blog page and TMD’s Facebook and MeWe pages. If items do not sell there after a couple weeks, they will go on EBay. The goal is to rip the bandage off quickly (so to speak). The sooner I get these things gone, the less likely I am to change my mind. I plan to start with the S-Boats and all the aftermarket and books I acquired for them. After that, I will sell off my modern armor. This is mostly Soviet-related. After the modern armor is gone, I will look at those 1/35 scale kits that I will never make products for and will most likely never build. There are a lot of larger kits in this list, like the BR52, Karl Morser and Leopold. Finally, I will take a long, hard look at all my figures. I have quite a few of them, and many are no longer in production. I may liquidate these, as well.
Once this is all finished, I will use the money I make from the sales to re-invest in TMD. I may buy some upgraded services for the web store. I know there are some small PE frets I would like to make and, if I can find a good business partner, I would love to have turned metal barrels for certain small arms items I would like to make. I would also like to offer metal antennas for some radio-related products I am planning to release. We’ll just have to see how well the sell-off goes. I guess that will depend in large part to you guys and your model buddies, won’t it? Well, no worries: I trust the Lord to take care of everything. After all, this is still His company, and I know it. I’ve just been a very poor servant and steward, and I know it. This is the biggest driver behind my desire to change the way I do things. To the extent that I succeed, my customers can only benefit. I pray you will wish me luck. 🙂
Stay safe out there,
9 thoughts on “JOE’S CORNER: The Year Ahead”
Good luck with your plans, Joe. Happy, healthy, and safe new year to you and BB.
Thanks, Christopher. I wish the same for you and yours, as well.
Hi Joe, I’m sorry about Chip, and I know how tough it is to lose a friend like him. Dogs ARE man’s best friend. I know you know about my Cait passing in May from old age. You and I could talk for hours about memories that make us realize how smart they were and how fond of us they were. They are mysterious, too. I like what CS Lewis wrote in “The Problem of Pain” about animals. God has told us who he is and who we are and who the angels, both loyal and rebels are. But God has never told us who the animals are to him. [The Old Testament laws show how valuable animals are to God. But its the kind of relationship that Animals enjoy with God is a mystery that we can’t begin to fathom.] Lewis believed that we are pathways to our pets being in heaven with us. But what we don’t know about what Animals are to God makes me think that we are not pathways for them, but that his perfect plan on the other side of the veil is for them, too.
Thanks, this helps. As for animals, Scripture does tell us they have a nephesh — just like us. That is the Hebrew word we most often translate as ‘soul’ or ‘spirit.’ The Hebrews thought of the two as interchangeable. So, who knows: maybe w will see our pets again on the other side??? I certainly hope so. 🙂
Energy and Focus…. can’t wait for those panther ladders =P
Embrace 3D printing… what I mean is partner with someone to produce a stable resin product from the printed material. With the RIDICULOUS shipping charges now making it hard to sell abroad (and vice versa) this is an opportunity to mold and distribute 3D printed masters ‘locally’ instead of at one point. The hardest part will be finding the partner with the 3D modeling skillset needed to print something you can then modify for traditional resin casting. It may not be the end, my friend.
Wish I could, my friend. I have been looking for such a partner for years. Thing is, most people who can do the CAD work seem to think they are 60%= of the team, so they always want WAY more for their work than the industry will support. So — for most of them — they turn to places like Shapeways and end up making next to nothing (though they will tell you otherwise, I know better). That said, if I found a guy willing to actually work with me, I would make sure the hobby knew his name as well as they know Karl van Sweden 😉
Probably a good idea to focus on “Shermans and Germans” as I like to say! We all get side lined or distracted by this hobby. To many shiny things out there, usually those things are more kits!
I don’t think 3D will take over. It’s too pricey. Resin is still more affordable. They might be able to make tiny items better and more cost effectively (for them) but I don’t see 3D covering larger items and complete conversions like you have. Maybe I don’t know where to look, haha.
I also wanted to comment on your last letter about an Ebay store. I think that is a good idea. Maybe put items that can be quickly cast, molds easiest to replace and make the items all related. Then every month, change what you post in the Ebay store.
I await your transformation and good luck! Also just recieved my order and all looks great. Thanks.
Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it 🙂
To the Ebay store: I am thinking about listing my best 100 selling items (maybe less). The whole point will be to get things overseas at a more affordable rate. I have a sneaky suspicion I know how they are doing it, but, no matter how it is happening, EBay has cheaper shipping for overseas packages. I am going to take advantage of that until it no longer works for me. 🙂