If you have been reading my blog, you know that I was excused from my job on January 15, due to no fault of my own, but because of a massive slow down in sales. As a side note, why is it that when sales slow, the company never takes it out on the sales department? I really should have seen it coming. Sales slowed and plateaued towards the end of 2007. It was uncomfortable, but manageable. Due to much effort, mine in particular, we were able to control inventory levels and thus reduce overhead to the point that we could continue business as usual otherwise. It took A LOT of work to control inventory to the just-in-time level. My biggest shortcoming is that I didn’t let anyone know exactly how hard I was working to keep it there, and what a delicate balance it was to not have stuff on the shelf until it was needed for manufacture. Then, about half-way through 2009, sales largely flat-lined. They took another deep dip, and the necessary, bold, creative efforts required to increase the market share were not considered, much less implemented. The word we were given is that if things did not improve, we would each take a 20% cut in pay and work one day less per week on a rotating basis, so that we could still stay open five days a week. This did not occur. Instead, twenty-five percent of the staff were excused and the remaining seventy-five percent took a 15% cut in pay, working the same hours. I don’t know who was involved in the decision to let me go, but I can’t help but feel offended at the obvious lack of appreciation. I certainly wasn’t part of that discussion. My selection in the lay-off group tells me that I was viewed as of lesser-value than my co-workers, and I object to that. I don’t know why the owners made the decision they did, but I’m sure they had their good reasons. I honestly do hope that things work out for them and they are able to get back on track from this awful recession. But, if they call to see if I want to come back, I’m not sure that I can. I’m afraid that in the back of my mind, I’ll always be wondering if I’m the second-class, ‘expendable’ employee. I deserve much better and owe myself better than that.
Anyway, if you have been reading my blog, you also know that Jenni and I have made a hard push on the custom holster business. I had been making custom holsters on the side for well over a year, but decided to attempt to push it into being a full-time business in lieu of outside employment. Deep, heart-felt thanks to great people like The Tam, SayUncle, Stranger – who shall henceforth be known as “Friend”, “Zack” James Zachary, and Caleb, just to name a few – using their mad linkiness, and honoring me as the guest on Gun Nuts Radio, pimping my leather (that doesn’t sound right does it); and, most importantly, thanks to my wonderful wife who had the crazy, mad idea to email some of these people asking for the help in the first place; the holster push was an unprecedented success, even if not unprecedented enough to actually pay the bills, and I was able to write this increcibly long sentence, which may actually be the longest to date on my personal blog.
It is by no means to say that I have any intention of throwing in the towel on The Holster Site, but neither should it be a secret that I have been seeking more traditional employment as well. The fact of the matter is that in the last three weeks, I’ve sold as many holsters as I did in my first year in holsters as a hobby. That is nothing less than incredible. Still, in order to think about making it a living, I’d need the volume to be four to five times that level – minimum. I know that posted pricing and an embedded payment method on the site would help immensely towards this. That is still part of my plan with The Holster Site.
I have applied for multiple jobs, fought with the unemployment office’s website, gave a few interviews, negotiated pay scales, saw a couple of jobs dead-end after all that, and just this morning reported for a second interview at a well-established company. I was given an attractive offer in this second interview. As of Monday, I will be starting my 90-day consultation with this company. My commute will be less than two miles, as opposed to over twenty. My responsibility will be to aid in designing a position to aid in operations planning as the company launches a program to grow and expand. At the end of the consultation, we will have a meeting and make a mutual decision on whether I will fill that position or move on. I like this idea! It sounds like an exciting project that may lead to a great job, or allow me an out if it’s not really what I want to do.
The bottom line is this – The Holster Site isn’t going anywhere. My most exciting, most beautiful designs are yet to be conceived, and I have plans to use materials that I’ve never used before – some that to my knowledge have never before been utilized in the holster industry. Every week, I will be working on holsters, expanding on some of my already great designs, and drawing new ideas. There will be more race holsters as well as all-new pocket holsters and shoulder rigs. I will start working with exotic leathers such as kangaroo, snake, eel, stingray, ostrich, and frog. I will work with new guns, branching out into the minuscule .380’s and the big, S&W X-frame revolvers. I will feel the waters of full-custom, cowboy action rigs. There will be reload carriers for magazines, speed loaders, moon clips, and speed strips. I am developing a design for a multi-purpose belt that will be like nothing you have seen before. Prepare yourself to see some wickedsickawesome designs, because they are coming. I will also continue to push the envelope on color combinations, and will always seek to make the holsters more rugged, more durable, and more usable. My ultimate goal is for my holster to be the most beautiful, most elegant, and yet the toughest holsters that money can buy.
If at the end of the 90-day project which starts Monday, the holster sales have not significantly increased, and I can reach a mutually satisfactory arrangement with the company, I’ll go full time with them, and continue to make holsters in my off-time, but in a much greater volume than I have in the past. However, if at that point the holster gig has turned into a demand that I can’t give divided attention to, I’ll fulfill my three-month contract and excuse myself to honest self-employment. Frankly, I think it sounds like fun either way.
So, thank all of you for your prayers and support. Thank you for keeping my family in your thoughts. Thank you for ordering holsters. Please wish me luck as I start this next chapter, this next adventure in life’s journey. I’m sure I’ll have more to report soon. Needless to say, this weekend the family and I will be doing some celebratory shooting!