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.
Tech Shop 2.0