View Full Version : Question for the forum

09-05-2004, 06:36 PM
IF you heard that a book was to be published discussing the pros and cons of operating a small machine shop, and IF you had an opportunity to provide suggestions as to content ----- what would you like to see? I am not talking about a Machinery's Handbook here. Nor am I talking about a book of plans for building hobby projects, as much as I enjoy hobby projects. I am talking about dealing with the nuts and bolts of job shop operation for the small independent operator. Including but not necessarily limited to:

Inventory control
Customer relations
Hired help --- or not
Machine and tool maintenance
Where to look for customers
What to do with and for them after you find them
Accounting practices --- legal, of course
Machinery selection
Full time vs. part time
And all of the headaches and pleasures of being self-employed, doing what you love to do, in today's world-wide economy.

I am posting this question on all three of the forums I know about because here is where the answers are. I would like to have this information and some of you out there may like it too.

Thank you in advance for your responses.


09-05-2004, 07:18 PM
A really good help section would be-

Handling thoughts of suicide/homicide

Customer relations(gun play,baseball bats)

Inventory control(how to build shelves and where to put them)

Debt collection(easiest ways to make knees bend both ways)

Establishing a fair minimum charge(cheap enough to attract industrial customers,but high enough to eliminate lawnmower decks and bicycles)

The lists of potential topics goes on and on,yes it would be at least as thick as MH.

09-05-2004, 08:09 PM
How 'bout a whole chapter on the best way to justify buying a new piece of equipment to the wife. "But Honey...this lathe is for YOU!" Or This trip hammer would work great on tough meat."

09-05-2004, 08:28 PM
A book like this would be interesting to see. Having owned and operated a one men shop for eight years successfully in West Virginia there are a lot of things you need to know.

One big question for a small shop is "Do I Grow the Business or stay small" even in good economic times. Today I think you need to look at the present and recent past to see what is happening to machine shops of all sizes. That will tell you a lot about the potential for the machine shop business. IMHO there is a place for a small nich shop today if you are in the right area at the right time.

Times have changed, maufacturing is changing, how people look at what they buy and why is changing, along with a lot of other things.

Don't know what you are really looking for from this group. Maybe you could be a little more specific.


09-07-2004, 09:08 PM
I had a small machine shop (6 employees) years back, and I'm in the midst of starting up another shop. I have contemplated starting another shop ever since selling my original shop to a customer that wanted it's own in-house shop (they made me an offer I could'nt refuse). I decided if I ever did start another shop I would make sure that I was not under-capitalized, keep the debt down, and most important, have one or more products owned or controlled by me and made in my shop. Work I do for others would be basically selling my excess machining capacity.

09-07-2004, 09:44 PM
Do you like peanut butter and jelly sandwichs? Thats what you will be living on while your going through the start up phase.

You must have a good capitalization and a strong line of credit.


09-07-2004, 10:05 PM
Most of the terms you have described, plus a few more I have just covered in getting my business management degree at the local community college.
My classes included:
1)Principles of Management
2)Intro to Business
3)Business Math
4)Business Communications
5)Small Business Management
6)Operations Management
7)Human Resource Management
8)Supervisory Management
9)Macro Economics
10)Micro Economics
11)Microcomputer Applications I&II
12)Financial Accounting
13)Managerial Accounting
14)Financial Management
15)Federal Taxes
16)Business Law
These classes seemed to cover all the basics. Each class was 6hrs. per week for 10 weeks, plus at least another 6hrs. for homework, research and group projects. You could take each one of these subjects and make a career out of it. Most of my instructors and professors had or are presently employed in the areas they teach. Learning from someone with actual experience, in the geographical area you are expecting to operate, is a great asset to a person who is going to go into business.


[This message has been edited by PolskiFran (edited 09-07-2004).]

09-08-2004, 08:28 AM
Thanks, all, for your responses. Joe, I will attempt to clarify and maybe in the process will make this more clear to myself!

I have been in and out of this business since I got out of the Navy in 1962. I have made some money, lost lots of money, learned a LOT about my fellow man and have had some fun in the process. During those years I have been helped along the way by some really good mentors and I would like to repay them in some way. The only way I can think of to do that is to pass some of what I have learned along to others. And, before I go further, one of the biggest things I have learned is how much I have yet to learn myself!

I do not know if I am capable of putting together the book I have in mind. But I am spending a lot of time considering it and will probably give it a try. I will include some construction articles and I may try to sing and dance a little to keep the reader awake. (Can't wait to see that!)

So I do appreciate the comments and suggestions. We will just have to wait and see it this bears fruit.