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Business as Usual

I get so involved with my workshop blog (THMSBlog) and working in my shop, I don’t spend a lot of time making additions to Ramblin’ Dan. I try to keep the work shop talk out of here, but sometimes I just should make some comments.

I run a world wide internet based business offering small machine shop tools and parts. About half my customers are outside the USA. That means I do a lot of export and filling out of customs forms. That’s lots of paperwork. If you have never been there you can see the link to The Hobbyist Machine Store in the right side column of this web site under WEB SITES.

I don’t mind the work as there are computer program tools that help make the process less painful. I actually enjoy the export business.

Exporting reminds me of communicating with my amateur radio station and talking to someone new in a country where I have never made contact before. Someone in a foreign land has discovered what I have to sell and is willing to send me money to obtain that product. Several recent orders were from tiny islands in the middle of somewhere. (I was thinking of saying “nowhere” but that isn’t true.)

The most recent was the country of Malta. It is a little island nation in the middle of the Mediterranean. Go look it up on Google Earth. Another was the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. My products get around to far off places

The little internet store will never replace my day job and it is not intended to do so. At least not at this point. I figure it is a good reputation and experience builder so that perhaps after I retire I’ll have already learned a lot and have a head start on what comes next.

I quickly discovered I can’t actually make much profit in the wholesale/retail business with the very small inventory and minimal product line. Pricing on the Internet is extremely competitive as basically internet stores with same or similar products are simply cheaper order takers. Low price wins in most cases. I barely break even and usually go slightly negative (when including all overhead expenses) by the end of the year. Nothing goes into my pocket.

For that reason and my small size, I have decided I’d like to go into manufacturing specialty products that only I source.  That works with my Mini-gears. My Taig and Proxxon (branded) accessories do less well for the reasons above, but I will keep them in the store. I am considering producing some useful machine accessories not available from the manufacturer. So I need to remain a dealer for those products.

I opened a new web page (not a store) for my manufacturing sub division. I plan to operate as a division of the business “The Hobbyist Machine Store”. The new URL is http://ktam.us. Very short and to the point.

KTaM (say Kay-Tam) is the acronym for Kautz Tool and Machine. Again short and sweet. All expenses will be run through the THMS books so I am not selling product to myself. Book keeping takes up too much of my time as it is. I just want a product ID that is separate from the hobby connotation of the store.

I was at a dead stop for awhile wondering what I could make in my small workshop. Since getting past that slack period of my creative muse, I am seeing all kinds of opportunities to make new things. I will stay within areas I know best and this will involve some of my hobby interest.

I am learning a new CAM (Computer Assisted Manufacturing) software system called BobCAD-CAM but I have several others software systems that work as well. Choice will depend on the project at hand. Presently, I have several tool products in design within BobCAD, They will be in production soon.

After that, I’ll just keep going.

Does the fun never cease?
Does the fun ever cease?

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