Dan's Blog

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  • Wednesday, May 09, 2018 11:34 AM | Anonymous

    Dear Members and Friends of TheShop.Build,

     Welcome back to our newsletter! There’s been so much going on I have missed a few weeks on getting our email out.  Please let us know what you would like to see more or less of in our communication with you.   

     Dan

    New Equipment

    We continue to invest in new tools to make your membership more valuable. In the last few weeks, we’ve installed:

    • Pocket NC 5-Axis CNC mill.  This is a state of the art machine with incredible precision and a new user interface. Read more here http://www.pocketnc.com/blog/2017/9/8/pocket-nc-version-2
    • Wizard 9000Z computerized mat cutter.  As part of the new framing area, we have a large-format machine capable of cutting 40” x 60” mats, 90-, 52-, and 45-degree angles, complex shapes, debossing, and a pen tool for drawing.

     

    Upcoming Events

    Our Meetup page is up and running. See https://www.meetup.com/TheShopSanFrancisco/ and let us know if you have any ideas for events, or would like to host one of your own.

    • May 12 Saturday. Game Night! If it comes in a box and you can play it, let’s do it! New this time is a delicious new catered food experience from our fellow makerspace, La Cocina. La Cocina helps women, immigrants, and people of color to become food entrepreneurs - more than 30 local food businesses have launched from there! https://www.lacocinasf.org/  We’ll also be giving away one month of free membership, a free class (any level laser class) and super-cool TheShop swag.
    • May 12 Saturday-CODAME Fashion  We will have a team of creative technologist so participants of all skill levels can create meaningful, beautiful outcomes.  Wear what you create to the CODAME ART+TECH Festival or have it on display in their Fashion Technology Zone.   http://codame.com/events/workshop-fashion-technology
    • May 12-20. Week of Making.   All week leading up to Maker Faire, we’ll be hosting classes and other events to celebrate and advance individual makers and our community. We’ll have a huge booth at Maker Faire, so be sure to come by and bring your family and friends! https://theshop.build/WeekOfLearning

    STEAM Academy – Youth Education

    Our Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) summer camps for kids ages 8-17 are only a few weeks away! We’re bringing back shop class, updated with today’s technologies. Check them out, along with our other activities, at https://theshop.build/Steam

    Pro-level memberships

    We’re looking into new ways to price our memberships for professional makers, small businesses, and other non-hobbyists. Ideas include pay-what-you-like, co-working/semipermanent spaces, and other ways to balance cost and access. Look for a town-hall meeting coming up soon, but please send us your thoughts in the meantime.

    Keep Building,

    Dan

     

  • Thursday, February 15, 2018 11:13 AM | Anonymous

    Good Morning everyone, I know many of you expected to see a notice of Bankruptcy filing by Tech Shop Inc this morning based on an internal email that became public.

    While the board has consistently had to look at all of their options, they have also tried to make sure stones are not unturned as we work towards a deal. This is a very complex deal that can result in a tremendous amount of risk for everyone involved.

    At times everyone of us may have had an issue with something any of us have done, but I know everyone is working night and day to open shops back up in a sustainable fashion so we don't spend the next several years in litigation instead of helping makers.

    Please don't be upset at the board for continuing to work to get the shops open. The easy thing for all of us would have been to just stop and not worry about any of it. Deals are hard when businesses make money and the drive to keep going on this deal is about the community.
    Dan

  • Sunday, January 28, 2018 10:00 AM | Anonymous
    Just 2 months ago TechShop closed all its locations. For me, and probably many of you, it seems much longer. This has been a negotiation with many ups and downs. I believe dreams realized and value created at TechShop are worth the effort. TechShop is more than a company, it is a family. I have heard stories about the friendships formed between members, instructors and local employees that go beyond the company called TechShop.

    In an ideal world, I would love to give you all the details of what is going on. Unfortunately, in the real world that play by play reporting of the negotiations can be detrimental to the process. I have only been able to give you general information on the negotiations.

    One of the lowest points in this deal was the day the TechShop 1.0 board canceled the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Leading up to the cancellation the secured debt had been negotiated and the memorialization process had started. Unfortunately both the negotiation and legal process has been slower on the second go around.

    This is a complicated transaction with many of the documents coming from people outside the TechShop organization, leading to far more meetings than what you would normally expect. Every one of these meetings results in more documents to review and uncovers more missing documents that must be tracked down and dealt with. At times the new documents have added a new wrinkle into the process of reopening the shops.

    Something to keep in mind is that Techshop 2.0 will be a new company. It is not a reorganization. Even though that is the case there are many things that I want to try to honor. The back pay of the employees and instructors along with prepaid memberships. While in an ideal world everyone is made whole, there will be people who don’t receive what they paid into TechShop. This is unfortunate, but we did not cause the value imbalance.

    One place that there has been very little news is about the many of you that made investments in TechShop 1.0. While we appreciate your past investments in the maker movement, TechShop 2.0 has to be a viable business. If it does not make enough to pay for employees, maintain and replace equipment it is not viable. We will be offering a discounted membership for past investors in TechShop.

    As I have said before, there is much to talk about regarding the future of each shop, but until the deals are done I want to stay focused on finalizing the transactions and getting everything in place to reopen the shops. If you are interested in working or teaching at the new Tech Shop please apply on our website. www.techshop2.com

    In closing I want to remind everyone that this is not a done deal yet. Until all the agreements are signed anything can happen. Having said that I hope to meet every one of you when we open your local TechShop 2.0 soon.

    Sincerely,
    Dan

  • Saturday, December 09, 2017 2:49 PM | Anonymous

    Are you ready to get building again? We are and I know the past three weeks have been a very frustrating time for you. I believe there is much we can do to build on the good and leave the bad in the past. Some of the changes will start immediately and others will take a considerable amount of time and the support of the members to accomplish.

    Our new legal entity name is TechShop 2.0 LLC, but we will continue to operate the shops at TechShop. The name is just a name, but the shop has always been about you and we are going to put our focus into you and helping you succeed with your projects.

    TechShop for years has been saddled with an extremely heavy debt load. This debt load was unsustainable to operate a business. Going forward we will operate the company in a fiscally responsible fashion while putting a focus on members and machines. The original TechShop did not have a stand alone corporate office, but the corporate expenses provided minimal value to TechShop and represented a very large % of the company revenue. Going forward we will have a very flat structure focused on each shop. I look forward to meeting each and everyone of you in one of the shops as you work on your projects.

    To me customer service isn’t a cliché, it is a way of life. I believe in perfect machines and helping customers succeed. I know Tech Shop had many great people, but I haven’t found many staff members who felt they were appreciated. In fairness to the previous management team, I believe they spent a significant amount of time trying to make sure the bills were getting paid and when you are focused on payroll this week, it makes it very hard to move a company forward and take care of everyone. Given the financial strain, I feel staff training became lacking in some areas, as well as machine maintenance. Going forward please look forward to and demand more from TechShop.

    As we integrate better training procedures adopted from each manufacturer’s recommended training procedures we will also be changing how we do our initial safety training for each area. The goal will always be to minimize the impact on other members who need to use equipment, but in many areas so many courses are taught each year to justify training equipment. In some cases the equipment will just be used for training and a copy of what is in the shop, but in other cases the training setup will be provided by the equipment manufacturer and specifically for training. Examples of the specific training modules are CNC control units for machining centers, welder simulators, ect. Creating a better training environment will also transfer over to STEAM education. STEAM education should continue to grow at TechShop, but it can’t be to the detriment of members who need to run their business.

    In regards to running your business, we want to keep more businesses inside Tech Shop longer. To do this we are already exploring how we can make more space available for rent within the facilities or nearby. As we add more equipment to each shop our goal is to make it easier to operate your business at Tech Shop. Several members have already mentioned mail boxes and office space not inside the actual Tech Shop space. Small business services and classes will become part of our normal member offering.

    I am rarely able to complete a project without at least one stop to the lumberyard. Where possible, TechShop will be putting a greater emphasis on retail supplies available at a fair price to members as well as access to our entire offering of supplies. Special order supplies will be available as part of our normal vendor delivery or next day via UPS or FedEx. This will include tools and machines if you decide to outfit your own shop.

    When a company is running tight on funds, often times machine maintenance takes a back seat. One of our first priorities once we receive keys to shops will be to evaluate, clean, fix (if needed), add hour meters to machines without them, and calibrate machines. Preventative maintenance and knowing how much each machine is operating is critical to preventing unplanned breakdowns. Machine Performance Audits will be completed by the manufacturer on a recommended schedule by the manufacturer. A safety stock of repair parts will be added at each store and on a company wide basis based on repair frequency and part lead time. Machines needing repair will be logged immediately to be repaired and will be visible to all leadership. This is a simple process and we will use it to drive machine uptime the same way I do currently with thousands of machines in service.

    I got an early start in the rental equipment industry, I had to take apart a nail gun and replace the o-rings and the tasks grew from there. I see many similarities between a rental equipment store and TechShop. Machines use has to be priced at a fair price to the customer and allow for maintenance, operating cost, and depreciation. If this isn’t done membership rates unfairly subsidize users who use expensive machines. As space and member demand drives larger machines such as a fiber laser, machining center, bigger panel routers, ect machines will be priced and marketed to reduce shop and member risk instead of increasing it. The other part of equipment management is not over utilizing equipment. As utilization goes above 70% the more risk you have in disappointing customers. The reservation system will be getting an overhaul after we get more feedback from the members. I am a firm believer in buying quality tools and we will be removing Harbor Freight tools.

    A greater emphasis will be placed on target marketing to hobbyist, professionals, entrepreneurs, businesses, and STEAM opportunities. We will complete this in a focused and planned manner in each market we serve. We will also provide incentives to members to bring new members into the shop. The more each shop grows the more we can offer to you. The marketing will also include marketing TechShop services using available machines at each shop.

    TechShop has a great opportunity to do more for each community it is lucky enough to be a part of, this can include more events or donating machine use for community projects. Members will have the opportunity to drive this involvement with the support of TechShop. I am looking forward to hearing your ideas on how you would like Tech Shop more involved in the community and events for both members and nonmembers.

    I have heard a tremendous amount of good and bad from several hundred members at this point and I believe Tech Shop community is extremely strong. I encourage everyone of you to have open communication with the Tech Shop team. I believe in the product we are going to deliver to each of you and going forward we will be an extensive user of open forums as an extension to the shops.

    Thank you for your patience as we are working around the clock to get shops open to the public. I know there is so much more to cover with each of you and we are looking forward to digging in with each of you.

    Sincerely,
    Dan Rasure
    Tech Shop 2.0

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