Re: I'm tired - An Alternate Point of View
- I must caveat this message with the following statement: the words I am
using here are not indented to be mean spirited or back biting.
Nevertheless, these words are frank observations of the situation and an
opinion of a hobby consumer.
Offering an alternate point of view, I must say I am quite surprised by
these announcements from those leaving the Z-scale businesses. I can
personally attest to Hobo Tim's generosity and fine work. I am lucky enough
to have received one of his etched brass truck cab detail sets. It is a
fine piece of work, which I received for free. Hobo Tim has my gratitude
and admiration for this act of generosity. All this time I thought Zthek
was a full time manufacturer like MTL. Just go out to Zthek's web site and
look at the professionalism in its content. Look at the page that details
the SW-1 kit - it show an instruction sheet worthy of Revell. Mr. Bill K.
of Houston, I never knew you were making cables until you announced that you
were getting out of the cable making business. From your own words it
sounds as if you made a high quality, highly requested product.
So what is it about your success that aggravates you?
A number of you have cited that you feel a victim of your own success, using
the term "slave scale manufacturing". If you want to look for someone to
blame for being enslaved, start with the person staring back at you in the
mirror. Yes, the customer is part of the reason for your success, but your
success is also from the quality product you provide and the reasonable
price set for the product. By no means have any of us enslaved you!
Further, it is not our fault that you are having trouble balancing a regular
job, a social life, a family, and hobbies, against the demands of a
business. This is a basic time management situation which everyone faces
every day. I would think you would have considered the increase demands on
your time when you contemplated when becoming an entrepreneur. I would
think that you would have considered receiving telephone calls at
inconvenient times when you published your personal telephone number as a
business telephone. I would think that you would have considered that
consumers would be demanding and unfair before you entered the business.
A public forum like a Yahoo! internet group is not a good place to blow off
some steam about being tired. Let me illustrate possible consequences.
On this forum I have seen strings of discussions concerning the future of
Z-scale. These discussions ranged from attracting new blood to the
availability of equipment, and other factors that could affect the viability
of the Z-scale hobby. I came to the Z-scale hobby partly from the N-scale
hobby where I was exploring Nn3. I admired the detail in miniaturization of
the Z-scale rolling stock and locomotives, but I was concerned with the cost
and availability. The announcement by MTL of Z-scale switches pushed me
over the edge and now I have an investment in the hobby. As time went on,
further research found there are many sources for Z-scale products.
Now I see that several sources of Z-scale items have arbitrarily decided to
closed shop. No warning, no advanced notice, no indicators. Just throw up
your arms and say "To hell with it!" What do you think that action does for
attracting new recruits? What do you think that action does for the
perception of availability of supplies? I can assure you that it helps
So now I am faced with asking hard questions of the other suppliers. AZL,
what is your commitment to Z-scale? Are you faithful to manufacturing
locomotives or are you going to arbitrarily leave the business? Sea Rails,
are you committed to the hobby? Are you committed to supplying the whale
belly tank cars you have been talking about? Micron Art, your truss bridge
design is beautiful! What is your commitment to building them?
Now that I have angered enough people, set me offer some suggestions to the
problems I pose:
1. Manage the customer's expectation. Don't let the customer manage
you. Look at your own schedule, set target dates and let the customer know
the schedule. If you have to change your plans, let your new plans be known
by all so that expectation is being managed.
2. When you create a schedule, build in time for yourself, your family,
your social life, and your hobbies.
3. If the going get rough, take some time off. There is nothing wrong
with taking a sabbatical from a business. Stephen Covey calls it taking
time to sharpen your tools.
4. When it is time to get out of the business, consider selling it or
passing it on to someone else. Pass the torch to a worthy successor.
Zthek, have you inquired if MTL is interested in your ready to run SW-1's?
How about inquiring with AZL? Walthers?
This is my point of view. I hope it gives you food for thought. Of those
of you who choose to leave the Z-scale business, leave with my best wishes
and thanks for your service. I am saddened by the news, but I hope my
thoughts will give you another perspective on how your announcements may
have been received.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Lajos, Bob, Tim and Bill,
Speaking as one of many strictly modeler/hobbyists here, let me be the
first to say simply, "Welcome to our group." I'm sure you will enjoy it
as much as I do.
John L. Battey