We are already a couple of months in to 2020 but right now is truly the beginning of the year in the gun industry; and it certainly is the beginning of the year for myself. Industry goes to SHOT Show in January and during this time you see new products launch and companies plan their upcoming year. This year, as the industry was planning for the new year and showing-off new products, I was moving my shop. My family had an amazing opportunity to build a brand new home with a large garage, so we took this opportunity and ran with it. I have never known an opportunity to present itself without a cost. The cost was letting the lease run out on my old shop and moving my shop into the garage of our new home, the cost was getting behind on my work-load, the cost was selling the HAAS CNC machine that I worked very hard to acquire, so we would have the funds for closing... a small step back in my business for a huge step forward for my family; honestly an easy choice. So this blog is really some personal thoughts and a continuation of my blog "A Blank Canvas."
Leaving the shop that I spent 6 years at, the place where I started this business and have grown it from a 2-in-1 mill/lathe combo, a blast cabinet, and some hand tools to what it is today, has allowed me to clean house of the old ways and refocus the business. This niche has changed a great deal over the last decade and as I have mentioned in previous blogs, you must continuously adapt. The things I have seen recently definitely create some cause for concern about the viability of the niche which I will not get into detail, but simply needed to be stated as a generalization for why I choose to continue down the path that I am. Since I have sold my HAAS VF0, it has left a void in the shop for producing parts. My main goal at this moment is to acquire a machine to replace the HAAS, so that I can continue to develop the parts business to complement my gun building. Considering that I have downsized a bit in shop size, I am kind of cornered into smaller machines like the HAAS Mini Mill or the HAAS TM-1P. Since I am looking ahead I also have to consider things like a 4th axis in the future or probing as a means to improve process efficiency with regard to production. I have a great deal to learn about the direction that I am heading but it is exciting to think about nonetheless.
As you all know I have decided to discontinue commissioned builds for reasons I have mentioned in the Blank Canvas blog. I will continue to build my Signature Series of guns which are speculative market guns based on my own interpretation of market demands and personal style. I have one of these guns available as we speak on the inventory page. I have also added an order inquiry form to the website to let me know if you are interested in a particular style of Signature build, when I produce a piece similar, you will be notified prior to me marketing the gun. This niche is extremely demanding and the bar has been raised a great deal in recent years. In order to satisfy that need/demand, the attention to detail required has added days to complete a gun. This does not come without cost. I foresee prices of high-end and bespoke 1911s from guys who are regularly building guns like Lou Biondo, Karl Beining, Jeremy Reid, Eddie Garcia in the double stack world, and a handful of others, to go up proportionately to the additional time spent to produce. We have already seen substantial increases in pricing among Guild Members, so maybe the Guild is privy to market information that the rest of us are only now becoming aware of.
So to pull everything said here together... I want to refocus and share my goals for 2020. First and foremost is a new production machine capable of producing high quality parts to add to the business model and to complement my Signature Series of 1911s. Second, the development of at least two new parts this year. Third, to establish closer working relationships with other builders who wish to develop this industry niche. I had parts collaborations with both Jeremy Reid and Karl Beining last year which filled market voids with quality parts that were not readily available. These types of partnerships will fuel progress in this niche and will provide real tangible results. So though it is almost March, here is to 2020, here is to a new decade of Custom/High-End 1911s.