A Change at THMStore
The change is THMS is going to manufacturer many of the products it sells. The Hobbyist’s Machine Shop will be refined and improved as necessary into a higher volume work shop in order to enable production runs of some finely crafted products we have long considered making. These products will then be offered for sale through our e-commerce store or perhaps regional sales representatives.
The Hobbyist Machine Store (THMS) is an Internet e-business. The initial mission statement of the business was to provide replacement steel gears for the popular Asian made mini lathe and mini mills. THMS next expanded its mission statement to include supplying small machine tools, accessories and powered hand tools to any hobbyist constructing precision projects in their personal workshops. THMS does not cater to just the machinist hobby, but to any kind of hobbyist who requires small high quality machine tools for their workshops.
The original plan put THMS into limited competition with other Internet and catalog based small tool providers. I have stated on these pages, it is not the intention of THMS to be yet another supplier of lookalike goods. We never intend to become a large discount supplier of common brand tools and machines, just competing on price.
I have been considering making this THMS mission statement “adjustment” for more than a year. I can’t call it a change of mission as this direction has always been a part of my long range strategy. A change in emphasis may be a better description. The emphasis to produce and market my own products.
THM Store will continue to offer, as long as there are orders, the high quality products that are not readily available through other channels. One example is the excellent Proxxon PD400 metric mini lathe and accessories, imported from Germany. We will also continue to be a source for US made Taig products. Unfortunately sales and profit margins of either of these brands (or both combined) will not (by themselves) keep the doors open for any low volume hobby business. Neither will the Mini lathe/mill retrofit gears, but we intend supply and keep those metal gears turning out as long as possible. All sales do help, but profitable sales (higher than operating costs) are what’s needed to keep any business in the black.
The new products I am considering are not limited to machine tools or machined metal parts, far from it. There will be no type of raw materials or end products off limits and may include all kinds of metals, plastic, glass, wood and composition and even electronics. CAD/CAM will contribute to accuracy and repeatability in the manufacture of our products but there will still be the craftsman hand very much involved. Making advanced machine tools (designing yet another CNC machine) is definitely not on the drawing board, but I never say “never.”
Some products considered are hobby based. That tends to warrant keeping the hobby business name. Other products may need a name change and could be marketed through the “Dimensional Art” web identity I published about a year ago. Now you know why that name was created. Sometimes “Hobby” isn’t the correct impression for a high quality product.
The primary reason for this change is total control over cost and profit margins. Second is quality control. With these goals, I should improve return on investment. Additionally, my personal passion is design and creation, working in the shop, and pride in well crafted products. I find this more personally rewarding than just trading (buy/sell) common market goods. If I were a farmer, I’d probably have a road side vegetable stand but I would still be a farmer.
If you are wondering, not a single paycheck has ever been issued by THMS. This is because THMS is a sole proprietorship with operating cost and investment in growth presently higher than gross profits. The reason for operating the business without pay or net profit is the long range desire to develop the workshop into the profit making center. We are nearing that point and it is the reason for the mission change.
One risk is turning an enjoyable hobby into a stressful business. You will read that caveat in every small business guide. The same guide will also say the best business to be in is one the owner totally enjoys. There is no way to know until I try.
Changing my thinking from one-off “hobby” projects into limited production runs, has given me a fresh new insight on how I can spend the next 10 to perhaps 20 years of my life (whatever the “Master Planner” will grant me) to do things I enjoy. I very much enjoy sharing the fruits of my labor (and brain) with others.