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Old 05-10-2005, 12:01 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by ronm
I hear ya Ed.
I supply automation equipment to an assembly plant.
Minutes of down-time are thousands of $$$.
I simply cannot say "sorry, that part is out of stock at the moment, do you want me to let you know when it becomes available?"
I like yor attitude. I'm an equipment specialist in an automotive plant. If I need tooling, reguardless as to who is at fault, I don't care about the standard 6 week delivery, somebody had better be working on it within 10 minutes of the phone call, because there are 10 other companies out there that will if you don't. Some of these companies are a bit more expensive, but I know I can't count on their quality and support.

I agree that in the hobby world, that's a bit too extreme, but if you tell me 4-6 weeks, I expect 4-6 weeks or letting me know that there is/was a problem..

a couple thousdand dollars a day for downtime is peanuts in the automotive world. Shutting down an assembly plant is worth thousands of dollars a minute

ronm, PM me, I'd like to know what kind of stuff you supply
Jason Holdaway

In theory, everything works.
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Old 05-10-2005, 04:40 AM   #32
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Does anyonme out there know of anyplace that has Raptor 60 parts in stock and is willing to ship them to a Canadian address?
I have never bought anything from these guy's, but from what I have read, they are pretty good people. They should have what your looking for.
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Old 05-10-2005, 05:42 AM   #33
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hobby wholesale and rc wings and wheels get my money i also live in pei enough said
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Old 05-10-2005, 12:09 PM   #34
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Great Hobbies — A Response

Hello fellow modelers.

Normally, we at Great Hobbies have chosen not to conduct business on a public forum and as a result have never posted on RC Canada in response to comments or questions. We do, from time to time, read the threads on RC Canada and appreciate the feedback from modelers regarding the industry and their perspective on this great hobby (no pun intended) in general. In this case, however, I felt it was very important that we did respond directly to those of you who frequent this forum.

First of all I must say that we are extremely concerned when we hear that customers are unhappy with our service. We have been in business for 21 years now and have always been deeply concerned about how our customers are treated. I continue to work here on a daily basis (although in the background) and from what I see, there is no less caring by our staff now than from day one. If I feel that we have a problem at all, it is that sometimes the staff cares too much and gets stressed out over not being able to do more for the customer. There have been many occassions that staff members have come in complaining that they had not slept well because they were concerned if this or that customer didn't get looked after properly, etc. Everyone here takes it to heart.

I would like to apologize on behalf of the company to anyone who has felt they have not been getting good service from Great Hobbies. It is not our intention to let anyone down or to make it hard for someone to enjoy the hobby—quite the contrary.

I have been following both this and the original thread since Sunday evening, carefully trying to determine what the root of the problem is. By far, the bulk of the complaints are to do with product availability, backordering and the ability to keep the customer abreast of his order status. I want to talk about this particular issue, explain some of the challenges we face and how we are attempting to address it.

Of late, the problem mentioned is the culmination of a number of factors, a few of which the GH defenders in this thread (and we thank you also) have touched on.

Product Supply

Currently the RC industry North American wide is in a slump. There are fewer dollars being spent on radio control hobbies. People are spending more of their time on the forums talking about it than they are building. This is not to slight those of you who frequent RC Canada—it is simply a reality. As a result, manufacturers and some distributors are pulling in their horns as to how much product they are manufacturing and stocking. We have heard this directly from a number of our suppliers. Lately, our fill rates from one of our biggest US suppliers has been only around the three quarters mark with the last order being filled at 72%. This has been typical.

As Doug from HiFlight mentioned in his response on the original thread, he has also been backordered by Hitec on their product. We support Doug as much as we can and choose to purchase our Hitec product from him even though it is available to dealers from the US. Doug offers the unlimited 1 year warranty on all his Hitec products and the Hitec product that we sell is covered by that warranty. There are other prominent dealers in Canada who do not purchase their Hitec product from Doug and therefore their product will not have that unconditional guarantee. Be careful when you buy.

Despite the state of the industry, we have been working hard to try and grow the business and the hobby in Canada. It seems that this year, the month of April was the gang-buster month for us when everyone wanted product for the new season. It was one of our biggest selling months ever, and although it was good, it was not without its challenges. Great Hobbies PEI was down the equivalent of 6 of our 16 employees for a two week period from both planned and unplanned circumstances. That is fairly significant and it is difficult to cover all the bases, although those that were here did an awesome job and I thank them.

Some certain lines of products have been very difficult to source in the past. Someone mentioned MACs products in particular and this is a good example. MACs have a huge range of products, most of them very specialized. The larger distributors where we order at least once a week only stock a smattering of the line. The part of the line that they carry, we can get fairly readily (provided they have stock!). We have tried to source the more specialty stuff directly, but often they could not even provide it in a timely fashion. As a result we have decided to cut back on the more obscure items from that line and only handle what our main distributors handle. We were getting too many complaints from customers that we could not supply the product. That hurts our reputation, so we had to decide to simply say, sorry we don't handle that item. MACs Products are not alone, but rather one of many that fall into that category. One of our problems is that we don't say 'no' enough and spend far too many hours trying to find one obscure little item for a customer and end up letting others down because of it.

Backorder Management

One area that we do not do a good job, and which contributes to the problem from the customer's perspective, is what happens when product does not arrive in a timely fashion. Our software works great for the normal product flow but does not have a good reporting function to warn us when a customer's order is not being filled properly because of unavailable product from our suppliers. At times we are able to work around this manually but it is extremely labour intensive and if everyone is busy looking after other day to day issues, it is difficult to manage it.

Our software is now quite old and has served us well. It does not owe us anything, but it needs replacing. The good news is that we are in the process of developing new software to run the business from head to toe and it will be greatly improved and help address many of the issues discussed here, particularly the ability to flag us when there are problems with an order. It is not that we don't want to keep you abreast of your order status or if there is a problem sourcing a product, it is currently a lack of good tools to do that job efficiently. Please understand that we are aware of that problem and we are working hard to address it. It will take time, however.

New Product Stock

One place where we see some complaints is in regard to new product and our quarterly flyer. People get the flyer and then order the product only to find that it is not in stock. Then we get the comments "Why do you advertise it if you don't have it!".

We periodically publish a 320 page catalog that has the main items that are current in the industry at the time we put the catalog together. It is obsolete the second it hits the streets from the product perspective. New products are out, others get discontinued. If exchange rates change, we're up the creek also in the pricing department. If the exchange rate is worse for the Canadian dollar, our margins get thinner because we try to honor the pricing we have published as much as possible. If it gets better (as with the current catalog) our prices start to look too high and we have to adjust them. We have done this in this case. Did you know that many of the products in our catalog are currently at a lower price than those published? Lots of people still refer to our catalog pricing though when comparing and find it too high, even though that is not what we are currently selling it for. You can't win. Frankly, I would like to discontinue producing a catalog completely and go solely with the web. Unfortunately, there are still many (none of which who will be on this forum) who are not regular computer users and still require paper to get their information.

To keep you abreast of the new product that comes out on a monthly basis, we publish a quarterly 8-page flyer. New products are announced by our suppliers, quite often several months before they are actually available. When we put together a flyer we try to put in it all the products that we know are coming so you will know what's coming. What is in there has to last for 3 months till the next one comes out. There is generally about a one month lead time between when we start putting a flyer or an ad together and when it actually gets in your hands. We generally have about 90% of the new product ordered as soon as we know about it. We hope that much of the product will be available by the time it hits the street, but sometimes that is not the case and it is difficult for us to judge when we will have delivery so far in advance. It also gives you the ability to get your name on the new product early so you can get some from the first shipments that come in.

There are a few iffy items that we might choose not to order initially and rely on the response of the product announcement as to how to procede. We like to know there is going to be some demand for a product before we stock it in a big way.

So Many Items in this Industry.

One of the biggest problems we have faced is trying to please everyone (and I know that is impossible and probably something we shouldn't do as much). We have tried to make available to Canadian modelers much of what is available in the industry today. That is why we advertise so many products on our website and in our catalog. We think it is important that everyone has the opportunity to source in Canada even some of the obscure items. Are we able to keep them all in stock? Absolutely not. There are simply too many with too little demand to warrant having one available on a moments notice, but we have found that most people are willing to wait a bit for items that are out of the norm. Most of our suppliers, in the past, have been able to supply these products and we order frequently enough that the turnaround time is not significant. The main stream items we try to keep in stock in depth. It is not always possible, but we make a very concerted effort in that direction. If suppliers are out of stock, however, this can be a challenge.

If we don't put in our catalog or on our website, you won't know that we can source that product for you. When it's there, it gives you an easy avenue to order it as well as product information and pricing.

Some people think that the product they are particularly interested in would naturally be the norm and can't understand why it wouldn't be in stock. Case in point: Recently a customer ordered 4 Hitec servos. Our normal stock on this item was 4 units, however, we had recently sold two and had only two in stock when the order was placed. The customer's comment was something like "Why wouldn't you stock more of such a popular item?". The fact is though that it wasn't as popular as that customer had thought. We had only sold six of that particular servo in the last entire year and stocking even four of them was way overkill according to the numbers. Many times we look at each other here and say "People just have no idea, do they!".

It is intersting . . . Ron at Sunset did an excellent job and his set up was very similar as to when I operated Jim's RC Supply as a one-man-show in the beginning. This was brought up earlier in this thread. When you do everything, you know all parts of the business where everything is and when it should arrive, etc. This can only go so far though. Because it is so well run, business grows and soon you are working 12 to 14 hour days to keep up, cannot close the shop for a vacation, and have to start thinking about hiring. The second more people come into the mix, no matter how good the system or how dedicated the employee, efficiency will suffer and the chance for mistakes increases. When we purchased Ron's business (and he is really enjoying life now guys . . . best move he ever made) he was generally managing 3,500 different items. We currently manage about 70,000.

Out of Stock Status

There have been a number of comments/requests for us having stock status on our website. Eventually, that may well be part of the site. Unfortunately, current site and the next generation of that site which is also in development will not have that ability. The main reason being that the sites are hosted elsewhere and are not connected live with our sales data. The site is updated daily with product information, pricing, etc., but live minute to minute feedback on availablity is not possible. New software has to come first and then perhaps integration with that down the road.

Also, there is the issue of multiple facilities. If we have something that says it is stock . . . in stock where? . . . PEI? Alberta? both? As you can see, issues get more complicated the more you delve into them.


I do want to thank you for your feed back and concern and for our opportunity to address those concerns. I am sorry this got to be such a long disseration, but I felt it may be of help to those of you interested in what happens behind the scenes. I know some of you have expressed the fact that you don't care what happens, you want your product today and don't care how we have to get it there, and that's fine. We understand. However, I want people to know that we do care about our customers, we do care about our business, and we continually strive to make things better. We always have and I hope we always will.

Thanks for reading, and have a great time with your hobby in 2005.

Jim Ewing
Great Hobbies
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Old 05-10-2005, 12:10 PM   #35
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Just about every base manufacture in the hobby industry manufactures hobby supplies as an addition or fill-in for their regular business. Byron Originals is a prime example. Their main business is lawn furniture. For many years they produced some of the nicest fiberglass kits. They have now sold that end of the business and are still manufacturing lawn furniture. As a result most of them batch run their product and that run is fit in when they get a chance from their regular production or they have enough orders to make it worth while to set up for a run. The major hobby suppliers do not for the most part manufacture our hobby supplies they instead buy out the cottage industry manufacturers or the distribution rights of those products. The chain of supply is now 3 to 4 operations long by the time it reaches the local hobby shop. Each is dependant upon the previous for the accuracy in delivery time. When you compare the discrepancies in availability of a certain item between hobby shops it may be something as simple as whether the hobby shop has one in stock or its immediate supplier can lay their hands on one. Hardly something the local hobby shop has much control over.

I deal with Great Hobbies, Hobby Wholesale, Woodstock Radio Control, Central Hobbies, Tower Hobbies just to name a few. All of them have been excellent as far as sales and service. Yes all of them have told me they were out of stock and would have to order items. Some items came in right away some it took some time. When they give me an expected date I take it with a grain of salt as I know they are repeating what they are told will be the arrival date.

With all the different items available for our varied hobby it would be impossible and somewhat naive to think that any hobby shop could possibly have everything on hand or even readily available? I just came back from Florida and visited Graves Hobby Shop. For those of you who have not heard of this place it has to be the biggest and most well stocked place I have ever visited. There has to be between 200 and 300 planes assembled and for sale hanging in layers from the ceiling. Even they cannot keep up with stock fluctuations and availability time lines. I asked about the mini Funtana and they said they were told 2 to 3 weeks however from past experience they could not readily say for sure until they actually received notice that they were reroute.

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Old 05-10-2005, 04:14 PM   #36
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Jim and the gang.......

I don't have a problem with the order from GH ( in fact I got a notice that my order is in from the Post office)....there is some things that I know I can get it just over the ditch ( Detroit) faster. Some of you guys in the middle of the country may not have that option and I see your frustration, but I think Jim just went out of his way to explain that he is working on getting everyone satisfied and I think that says a lot of Great Hobbies. This order I gotta pick up had a backordered item and I made a substitution and things are okay. Actually, it's rare to see any supplier respond this fast to mounting dissent amongst the masses with a reasonable explanation.

Now as for the 10 Segways that I have on backorder....well my banker wants to see me this week ( actually I rode one and they are neat)

Ron Harway
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Windsor, Ont.
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Old 05-10-2005, 05:01 PM   #37
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Good to hear from you Jim. It shows that you care about your customers. Communication like this is exactly the type of thing that I consider to be good customer service.

One suggestion for showing stock status. Rather than showing realtime stock status which, as you mentioned, is not possible with your current setup; it would be nice if items that are not going to be available for some time had an eta. This wouldn't require a live connection to you point of sale database, but could be done with a nightly extract. I know these things can't be done at the drop of a hat (I'm a programmer) and that you don't have the advantage that Tower has by being part of the same company that supplies 90% of their products, but it might be something to look at.
1/2A all the way!
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Old 05-10-2005, 05:54 PM   #38
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For online sales, I think showing stock status is essential. What about implementing stock status reporting in a limited way - i.e. on easy to track or high volume bread and butter stuff?

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Old 05-10-2005, 07:14 PM   #39
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Great Hobbies!

Jim, it is a pleasure to see you on here!
This does in fact show you do care about the customers of Great Hobbies and it's real nice to see your communication with us!

I apologize for sounding so crude earlier but I guess it just must be the frustration of the "want it now syndrome"
I have built small websites for people and even I know hos involved and complex a simple website can be. It may be hard or impossible now to implement an "in stock" feature but it sure would be handy.
Here was part of the trouble of my last order:
If I had of known that "brand X" of servos were not in stock I could have simply just order a different brand of servo similar in features as Brand X. I'm not really a devoted user of a single brand of servos so I could have easily made another choice. Same with "Radio system Z" that was on the same order.
It's just nice to have the option to chose another similar item when you see the item you originally wanted is not in stock.
Again, thanks for sharing all the helpful information in your posting!
It is very much appreciated!
P.S.- Love your R/C Canada name. When it comes time for me to order one of those Segways, I will order from Great Hobbies!
Howzitgoin' eh?
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Old 05-10-2005, 08:24 PM   #40
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It is great to see your addition to the forum and an explanation. That goes a long ways in my books.

I guess it is just hard to let go of the good ole' days when you were small in PEI and we knew each other by name.

I will continue to use Great Hobbies. I want to see it succeed. But I guess we all know.. The cheapest prices gets the sale. I think thats where the real competition is.... and the hardest work.

Thanks again.

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