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Old 07-12-2007, 12:09 AM   #1
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If you're thinking of starting a model company... Don't.

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If you're thinking of starting a model company... Don't.

Not because it isn't an enjoyable job, and not because the market is too competitive (because it really isn't). I say "Don't" because you will never have the fun of being on the other side again. To clarify, I should say it's very hard to ask about something without someone suspecting some sort of business related motive. In truth, I'm still a modeller at heart. I would love nothing more then to scratch build something just for me, and not have to worry about "Will builders understand this step?" or "How will I make that work without confusing everyone in the manual" and certainly not "How would I get this to fit in a box?". If I had my druthers, the wing would not come off, it would be fully sheeted, it would be as wide as my house, and I wouldn't care that I used up the jug of glue I just bought. But this sort of scenario is rare. True, I get to be there for every new idea scheduled to go into testing, but not all the time is the end product a dream of inspiration, but rather a necessary measure in getting to the next step in where I really want to be... or maybe not.

In truth, I'm locked-in on the inside. As you would imagine, I can't talk about some projects (which really stinks sometimes), and if I ask about something related to .... well anything, people get excited and think they have the "inside loop" on what we are doing. Sometimes I just want to know how to fix a burnt radio as an example (cough, cough...) The radio doesn't belong to me, but yes, I burnt it. It happens. So when I ask "Hey, have you burnt one of these before?" It doesn't mean the radio manufacture has dropped support for us, or even if they are affiliated with us at all. I just burnt this old radio and now a set of schematics would really be nice right about now.

This sort of "cloud" is hard to deal with at times. Some people say "If you really want to destroy the thing you love, make it your job." Usually that's the warning offered to you right after you're told "Chase your dreams, nothing else matters." I can't say my career has ruined my love for model aircraft, or aircraft in general, because it hasn't. I was well aware the risk would be there. Balancing your passion and your career is not an easy task. Mostly because of the wall that goes up as soon as your name is made public. From there, you gain a certain respect (along with some criticism) I have no problem admitting that I don't know everything about anything in this business/hobby, because you just can't know everything. There is just too much out there. The best you can hope to achieve is to focus your efforts on a specific area that you can be comfortable to live with. I can't tell you how to defeat vale float on a specific engine, nor can I tell you how to gang a pile of lipos with a certain ESC. But in my position, I undoubtedly get those questions from time to time. Sure, I can tell you anything about what I have worked on, and why I did what and for what reason. That's my job. But when I read all the comments from all the guys building and testing, and having fun. I'm prohibited from talking about a great many things. I can't comment on what someone else has made. I can't give an opinion about how bad/good some other manufacture's work is. In fact, the day I became a public reference in this hobby, was the day I was no longer allowed to "hang out with the guys" and share their frustrations about a great many things. I have to be careful about everything I say or do. And it's hard.

The really hard part is when you see someone struggling with a problem, and you know you can help them... but you really can't. You can't even suggest something helpful. Not because it would make me liable, but it could be viewed as a shallow attempt to demote a competing company. The truth is (as some will attest) we collaborate with other manufactures in our niche area of kiting. Not because we need something they have or vice-versa (that was the 70's), but because we love this hobby, and want to promote it as much as we can. If it was up to us, everyone would be back to building again. This is not to say the ARF industry is bad (it has it's place), but we like to promote skills in all areas of the hobby. Painting, carving, custom decals, custom exhaust, neat fuel tank systems, lighting mods... the whole works. And then there is the flying part. If you don't have time/space for a kit. By all means pick out a nice ARF. And as I have suggested, that's as much as I can say about that without ruffling some feathers. Sure the toys we get to play with here are really fun, and building a prototype is something to get up early in the morning for... and for sure, we would go without sleep and skip a few meals just to get the test flights in when the weather is good. But the bottom line is, if you want to start down this path, be sure you know about the wall that will divide you from the guys at the field.

I feel like all the modellers I've talked to over the years are my best pals. We talk about so many experiences and share so many stories, that I often get reminders to get back to work. This hobby is so much fun and is so dynamic, that had I won the lottery, everyone would get a plane to build this winter. And that love for this hobby is why we work so hard. We just miss hanging out with the guys.

Take care everyone, and fly safe.
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Old 07-12-2007, 12:31 AM   #2
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Hi Ken

After all of that, do I dare ask the price of the Tri-Pacer on floats?? Shipped to Ontario..............?

A good landing is when you, the pilot, can walk away !!!

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Old 07-12-2007, 06:11 AM   #3
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Re: Tri-Pacer

Originally Posted by 1367mustang
Hi Ken

After all of that, do I dare ask the price of the Tri-Pacer on floats?? Shipped to Ontario..............?

Me too And what are the specs!!
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Old 07-12-2007, 08:09 AM   #4
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You forgot to mention the biggest requirements: constant sourtesy and a thick skin.

The really memorable manufacturers that I've met over the years have had one similar description: total gentlemen.

They were always willing to help out modellers, even with their competitors' products, and never ever ran them down. When asked their opinion on the competing products, the respanse was always a blank look and sometimes followed by "son, you aren't going to get me to answer that question. I don't and won't do that because it's not right."

Yes, its a highly competitive market and things come and go.

At the end of the day, if you can say that you've done your honest best to put out an honest product, you're ahead of the game.

If the fun has gone out of the hobby because of the business, it's time to move on and let someone else take it over.

"Non carborundum illegitimi" is what you need to remember (don't let the B-word grind you down.")
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Old 07-12-2007, 08:19 AM   #5
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Thanks for sharing, I can certainly commiserate as I have a life long habit of turning hobbies into a means of making a living... it's hard to separate the two and often impossible to go back to the simple enjoyment. This is likely because of the old saying "you shuold never do business with friends", making a living in a hobby it's difficult to separate the two.

Effective communiction is the cure to most ills, hopefully the next potential problem customer will have read this and understand before putting you in a difficult situation.
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Si fractum non sit, noli id reficere - (If it ain't broke, don't fix it).
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Old 07-12-2007, 06:13 PM   #6
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Thanx for your comments. I haven't lost the love for what I'm doing, but sometimes there are those days.... No matter what field you work in.

As for the Tri-Pacer. I can't comment. I just don't have the answer yet.

I can attest to the supporting community I share my grief with. Adrian Page comes to mind right away. I'm sorry to see things change for him, he has helped us out quite a few times. Then there are the people who help out even though they are not customers like Dave Bokovay from Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, Patrick Gilligan from Bombardier, Kaye LeFebvre (retired now) from Scaled, Daniel Brett, Andrew Kondor... and a few more I can't mention without blowing the lid on some projects. Oh, and Jim Aitken... who can't say anything ...but smile. Nice people, really nice. These people and a lot more are what makes it all worth while.

I've worked in a lot of other fields in the last 25 years, and I can truly say that I've never had such a high percentage of people calling with a song in their voice or a smile in their tone. When I lived by the camera, you meet a lot of different people. And my assessment of that career would easily say 70% of everyone I talked to was pleasant or showed understanding for a problem I had no control over. But in this field, I could easily say 98% of people are right there with you, helping along. Everyone is happy over here. And although we want to provide as much as we can for everyone who calls, sometimes we have to catch our breath every once and a while. I guess I just want to say thanx to all those who shared their experiences with us. There certainly is a lot stories I could tell you over a cold beer, but until I retire, I can't say a thing.

Thanx again everyone, I have to get back to working on ... something...
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