ep009 Where have you been?

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Finally, the long-awaited update I’ve been trying to get to.  Since last December I’ve attended some local shows, painted a few jobs… stuff has happened.  Let’s face it.  After three quarters of a year goes by, something is bound to.

First, let’s start with something lighthearted.  I had sent, in a text message, some of the images from the photoshoot my daughter Zoe had done of Denny’s lowrider, to Ed Hinchey of Thunder Roads PA magazine.  This is the bike I wrote about in the episode 7 blog post.  Anyway, about a week or so later, I got a call from Ed asking if I had any of Zoe’s high rez files from that day.  Turns out the plans he had for the official photoshoot fell through, and he was now stuck for images to go with the text.  “No, but I’m sure Zoe can email them to me,” I replied.   Soon the transaction was done, and disaster was averted.  Zoe was going to have her work published, and I felt proud that my kid was getting opportunities and experience I didn’t have at her age. In between this time, the last podcast episode with Sarah McElroy of Atomic Dice had been recorded, edited, and uploaded.  The experience was fresh in my mind.  One of the points we touched on was especially fresh — networking and the concept of interdependency with others associated with the industry.  So when I got another call from Ed Hinchey asking if we can meet for lunch to talk about the upcoming “World of Wheels” show, I assumed it had something to do with me going under their wing, being part of their tent, thereby saving me some cash I wouldn’t otherwise have spent for a spot on the floor. Lindsey came along with me, and the whole way there we discussed this possibility and what would have to happen to get ready to do a setup there. We meet for lunch, we make small talk (which in hindsight was a lot about Zoe) and order our food until finally one of us (honestly don’t remember who at this point) got down to business and brought up the matter at hand — World of Wheels. Given what we assumed going in, you can imagine the look on both our faces when we realized that Ed was meeting with us to ask for the services not necessarily of me, but of my daughter! He needed an official photographer to shoot all the bikes that would be featured in the magazine’s spread on the show, and he wanted Zoe to do it. He also kindly offered that I come along for my own advertisement — talk about having a big ol’ slice of humble pie! Needless to say, we laughed most of the way home and promptly called our daughter to ensure her willingness to serve so that I could tag along 😉

Fast forward to the usually booming summer months… starting off there were the events at Steel City Harley, our local dealership. These are always a good time, put together flawlessly, and I always end up with at least some type of work out of the day, whether I’m making contacts that turn into jobs later, or just striping one of the floor models to put on a live show and add some spice that gets the bike sold faster — win/win for me and the dealership! These are also always easy events to get Lindsey to come along to — especially when she gets to be a judge for the rib cookoff as she did both this year and last year… between the pig meat, beer, bands, and sunshine, she’s a happy camper who only now and then has to be reminded that this is work… In addition to Steel City events, I made appearances this summer at Mods vs. Rockers and the Cecil Car Show, pulling stripes and making contacts at both shows. Cecil was an especially productive day, and while Mods vs. Rockers was a great time (thanks especially to Tim and Lewis and friend Vince), this isn’t so great a fit for me as events go… these people, by and large, are doing their own work on the bikes, and the bikes are meant to reflect that — not many, if any bikes have a show finish or elaborate artwork, which is where the majority of my talents and services lie. It’s probably not a place I’ll pay to set up next year, but definitely, cool cats running that organization and I’d love to go out next year just to donate a panel and walk around and check out people’s creations.  Lastly, I don’t want to leave out Three Rivers Harley Davidson who invited me to paint trophies for their annual bike show and set up for the second time as well.  Dealing with the staff there was a great experience and I look forward to next year as well.  I managed to get some video demonstrating the velcro display grid which you can see here. trh-display

Given that my time is split between a night shift job and all this good stuff, as much as I’d like to do it all, I have to remember potential return on investment when deciding which events to set up at in the future. The business has some big new expenses this year, and I have to make sure I don’t have days that end up costing me more than they make me. Not only am I moving into a new shop soon (more on that shortly), but I took on a monthly vehicle payment for the first time in a couple years. Decided on a truck thinking that it would be a bigger and better alternative to the HHR, but ended up finding out once I got it home that the metal displays (which used to travel on racks on the roof of the HHR), didn’t fit well in the 5ft truck bed. In fact, my whole packing rhythm was thrown off and I had to make some serious adjustments, some frustrating, but with positive results. All the thought that went into the whole setups/displays puzzle because of the truck issue ended with me coming up with a Velcro system for my displays, making it faster and easier than the old zip tie method, plus with no damage to the panel… I’m pretty proud of that one.
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Now as I promised, to the biggest piece of news (and other big expense) — a new location! While the workspace I had in Houston, PA for the past few years was very convenient, it wasn’t ideal for my purposes. It wasn’t as temperature controlled as I would have liked, nor was the booth as advanced.  But it wasn’t my place, and it was meant to be a body shop, a place for cranking on cars — not a custom shop producing show finishes on custom bikes, and I knew that going in. I have good relationships there and it provided a better environment than my own garage, and I’m grateful for what I learned while I was there and had the space to work in, but it’s time to move on. I’m going to be sharing space in a building in Oakdale with another custom bike guy who seems to come up in every post, and a detail shop. It’s definitely not as close to my house or work as the old shop, but in this place, I know the focus is on a clean, professional setup, a strict concentration on higher-end custom bikes and cars. It’s going to be the first time I put an address on my business card. It’s also going to be the first time I have an office and a booth in the same location that isn’t my basement, and the first time I don’t have to corral my dog or make my wife put on a bra for a customer to come over… needless to say, I’m pretty thrilled yet anxious to get in and get started! But of course, all this means drumming up business, paying for it, making sure I’m bringing in work to keep myself busy in the hours I plan on devoting there every week. I feel the pressure as well as the excitement to get started, and can’t wait for the space to be done… it’s going to be a busy few months for sure, stay tuned!

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