Post Number: 2747
|Posted on Wednesday, 29 November, 2017 - 06:48 am: |
I have received a number of enquiries regarding the absence of John Beech from the forum following Hurricane Irma in September. I contacted John and received the reply below which I know will be of interest:
Very kind of you to reach out to me.
Yes, we did have some hurricane damage . . . but overall, we got off
lightly with some roof damage that let water into the house but no
structural damage. We were without power for nearly a week (I have two
generators and for different reasons both let me down, which speaks more
to my lack of adequate preparedness and testing). This took a few weeks
to resolve, especially getting contractors to effect repairs because
there was so much widespread damage they were feasting on the surfeit of
However, the principal reason I have pulled in my horns on social media
lately has entirely to do, instead, with the pressures of business. I am
self-employed and my business has - like every other on the planet -
been under pressure from Chinese goods. This isn't new, of course, but
has in our case been building over the course of a decade. However, this
was the year that everything came together to see me finally shift focus
from one area to another.
To wit, I manufacture a remote control model helicopter, for which we
make the metal components and that I have injection moldings done in
Korea (South Korea, of course). Anyway, when the Chinese entered the
market, the previously high-end technique of using carbon fiber plate
and aluminum bits to assemble a model priced about 3X higher than mine
came down in price precipitously - to the point it challenged us on the
low end. Those of us making models of injection molded plastic were
largely driven out out of business (save me and one other based in
Germany). However, these competitors were largely replaced with a bevy
of Chinese manufacturers, so there remain many, many pigs feeding at the
Anyway, seeing the handwriting on the wall, several years ago I began
diversifying into the electronic components that accessorize the models,
e.g. electric motors, speed controllers (the throttle for an electric
motor), plus the servos (the electromechanical devices that actually
move a control - like the steering for a car, or the rudder and elevator
for model airplanes). And it was in the later that I have found fame and
OK, both terms are a bit strong, but nevertheless, it's within the area
of servos that we're suddenly doing really well. Enough so that servos
began to outstrip helicopter sales two years ago (more a reflection of
how bad the model helicopter business had become for me than the sheer
dollar terms of servo sales, but I digress). Anyway, to date, servos
have become the tail that wag our financial dog. Of course, the Chinese
are in this market as well, and we actually buy some components through
them because we're not too stupid or bullheaded, but we retain some key
advantages. Not least being we own three cells of CNC mills (four
actually because I have one in my home shop upon which I prototype) and
this gives us the ability to control quality here in the USA. However,
the biggest advantage is my decision to sacrifice my old business model.
Let me explain.
In the old days, I largely functioned as a hybrid manufacturer/importer
and sold our helicopter models to a distributor. They, in turn, sold
them to stockists (hobby shops), for subsequent sale to the retail
consumers. They (and we) all got a cut with the hobby shop having the
most generous one (they must have a margin of about 40% to operate). The
distributor's cut was about 15-20%, which again is about standard.
However, Amazon has changed this. Not entirely Amazon because mail order
hobby shops have been around a long time but overall, the willingness of
the customers to buy sight unseen (other than photos and descriptions on
a website) means the stockist is in a precarious position. recognizing
this, I have long mulled a move toward a direct sales business model.
This lets me either be more price competitive, or the route I have
chosen to follow, allows me to offer more features for the same price.
The point being that with my electronic accessories, because I branded
them separately from my models - and - instead of selling them through
my existing supply chain, I elected to self-distribute direct to the
consumer means I've put myself in a new position from which to complete
with the oriental giants. And cutting out a lot of middlemen has
advantages. Not least being I can spend more on making a product that
sells at the same price point that someone who imports, sells to the
distributor, who sells to hobby dealers can contend with. However, with
so many getting a cut, it becomes easy for me to incorporate features
easy for consumers to discern. Moreover, because consumers aren't
stupid, e.g. they can easily see where for the same money they get more
servo from us (especially because I'm at pains to point out where we're
better via comparison photos), they have responded to our products very
Anyway, since I branded these products as separate and distinct from our
previous product line (so as to not totally annoy our existing
distribution chain in case I was mistaken in my assessment of the
market), I launched a new website for these products -
www.promodeler.com. However, the dirty secret of marketing and branding
is making a website is easy. E.g. the bones of the website. However,
it's the details like writing the copy plus all the many required photos
where the real work lies.
Frankly, it's grubby and tedious work. Worse, I cannot (in my
experience) pawn it off on somebody else. why not? Simply because they
don't know my business. E.g. they would be forever coming to ask me
questions about the product during which time by the time I explain it,
I may as well do it myself. And this is where I am now. Basically, for
the last few months I have been nose to the grindstone neck deep in this
kind of detail. And God willing I'll wrap the site up in time for the
Christmas holidays so that I may turn my attention back to things of a
personal nature . . . like my Silver Shadow!
Last thing, to help you grasp what I mean by detail, eyeball the
attached images. Not only do these photos needs be taken (which
necessitates all coordination entailed in terms of getting people and
products plus a pretty flying day to a remote field just to get the one
shot of a model flying), but multiply this by many products and model
photos. And don't forget the photos have to be taken with some
consideration of how many different ways they need to be used (e.g.
cropped to a certain size). Plus, there's the copy that goes with each
of the photos, e.g. someone has to write it (again, that would be me).
Oh, and before I forget, there's a huge amount of time just figuring out
what size each of these photos need to be for their intended use on the
website, e.g. 1400x600, and 320x240, and 600x600 pixels - and each with
different copy! Plus there are multiples of photos for multiples of
Fortunately, while it seems endless, it's not . . . but there's a lot to
be accomplished in creating a professional website for selling products
to consumers. Especially when the expectation is set by companies with
seemingly limitless budgets, e.g. Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, Tencent, and more.
Anyway, we're getting there - https://www.promodeler.com/DS160CLHV - is
one of about a dozen servos in our lineup. This product entry is the
only one that's fully complete. By this I mean there are five tabs;
Description, Specifications, Comparison, TL:DR, and Reviews and each is
finished. If you have a few minutes to kill, take a look and scan to see
what I mean regarding writing the copy, taking the photos, making the
drawings, as well as creating the comparison charts for how we match up
to our oriental competitors like Savox, MKS, Hitec, Futaba, and others.
Anyway, right now we're gaining a solid reputation for making the best
servos on the planet - and - offering them at a fair price and only
after they're all done will I have my life back.
In closing, many thanks for letting me share why it is I have been MIA
on the RR forum and please let everyone know that yes, we survived Irma,
and that yes, I'll be back in due course. Finally, feel free to post
any, all, or none of this (including photos) because who knows, perhaps
there are some within our group who share an interest in models as well.
I am looking forward to John's return and the continuation of his involvement. For those interested, I have included John's images as the following ZIP file:
Post Number: 116
|Posted on Wednesday, 29 November, 2017 - 09:52 am: |
Thanks for the follow up information David. Wishing John every success with his business venture, his customer reviews are most encouraging.