Podcast: Romance of Manufacturing Your Own Products

There is a great satisfaction that comes from design and manufacturing your own products.  Seems like that we lost that romance (as a nation) for a while, so its good to see it coming back.  The Made Local movement is an important one for the long term success of the United States.  Lets explore this for a few minutes.

Romance of Manufacturing Your Own Products

Thanks for listening.

Let me know if we can help with any of your design projects.  Call me at 800-722-7987 or email montie@montie.com today to get started!

Cheers,
Montie

Audio Transcript

Hi. My name is Montie Roland. And I’m with Montie Design. I’m going to spend a few minutes with you today talking about a subject that comes up a good bit. And that is do I license? Or do I manufacture it myself.

And we’ve kind of talked about this in some different ways over the past few months, and I think that there’s this thing that we’ve kind of lost as a culture. And that is the craftsmanship, the makers. And I get the fact that someone looks at developing a product and getting a patent and licensing it out as a way of earning some income. That is completely valid. And I’m not running that down at all. As a matter of fact, that’s a very healthy thing for our economy. It’s a winner all the way around. And that’s kind of a little bit different than what I want to focus on.

I’m driving down Highway 49 in North Carolina between Raleigh and Charlotte. As I’m driving, I’m seeing these places where there are these small manufacturers. Very small; we’ll call them micro-manufacturers. One is I drove by an old building where the faded sign said “Len’s Saddlery”. And I’m guessing – now, I could be wrong here – but I’m guessing, since it says saddlery, he might have been a reseller, but he might have made them, too. And if he made them, that’s kind of neat. You know? Somebody that makes horse saddles. I’ve seen other places as I’ve gone by where there were these small businesses that had other, similar niche products, and some of these businesses never grow beyond a guy and his helper in a shed. At the same time, there’s a lot of situations like that where there’s one or two or three or four people where everybody in that shed does very well. They have a great product. It has a market. It sells. They’re very busy. We have a company down . . . well, maybe forty-five minutes or an hour from the office, that makes safes. And they can only make so many safes a month. And right now with all the political turmoil regarding firearms, they have more orders than they can fill. And they have these really high-quality, kick-butt safes. And so they have a safe where their competitor’s safe is maybe made of 16-gauge metal; and their safe is made of quarter-inch thick metal. So, in this case, we’re talking, you know, four times as thick. So, their safes are more expensive. But, they kind of have this following that’s interesting that the owner of the company told me that they’d actually have offers to buy their company. First question he asked is, Where you going to make ‘em? And the guy got real quiet. Said, We’re going to produce them wherever’s the most cost effective way, or something like that. Which basically means they may not be made in North Carolina anymore; may not be made in the U.S. I’ve heard other business owners who had the same comment. We talked to a guy the other day that the company said I want to license your patent and take over your product. And he said, Where are you going to make it? And they said, Wherever’s cheapest. And so that probably means it’s going to go to the Far East. And there’s nothing wrong with making products in the Far East. I’m not railing against any way. We design products that get made in the Far East. Every year we have very successful clients who trade, and international trade is a good thing, despite whatever anybody tells you. As long as it’s on a fair basis, it’s a good thing. Without delving too deep, I think we have to be careful about trade imbalances, but . . .

So, these folks that I’m talking about have these . . . you know, from boutique to slightly bigger businesses. And, as I drive through the country I see these places where some of these older businesses have close. And, you know, I look and some of them were, you know, maybe more on the reseller’s side; and some of them were on the small manufacturer. But I look and there’s this . . . I imagine somebody that’s older that is an expert in making ABC. And he has some folks that are maybe younger working for him and they make ABC. And maybe they make the best ABC on the planet. Maybe it’s just good. Or maybe it just meets the needs. But, so I look at that and there’s kind of this romantic fascination that says, Hey, it’d be nice if we had more of those companies. And, we’re starting to see more. I think the ones you’re seeing now that are at least getting the press, or these companies that, like, for example, make cupcakes. I don’t know if you know it or not but you can buy a $20 cupcake now; $10, $20, $8, $7, $6. You can buy cupcakes that are gourmet cupcakes. And that’s awesome. I think that a lot of these older styles of doing business are coming back. In Durham, there’s a company that has a meat truck. And so, I think it’s healthy for the economy and vibrant. And it also gives people a kind of an outlet. Because they can look at it and go, I could do that. They’re not . . . you know, they can look at General Motors and go, Oh; wow, that’s beyond me. And it probably is beyond most people to start the next General Motors. But, to start the next business where you’ve got a storefront and maybe a helper and you make a few of these a month – whatever that is – or a bunch of these a month, that’s something I think a lot of people can get their arms around. And I think that’s a great thing because when they do, that drives the economy. You know, those goods require raw materials, they require other vendors. It’s just a winner. And one of the things that I’m happy to see is micro-brands.

Now, as a company, if you come and say we want you to design something that I’m going to turn around and license, we’re happy to do that. And I’m happy to see that, too. The micro-brand part has that, you know, that romantic fascination because somebody’s going to actually put it together and ship it. Somebody’s going to get it out of the box and . . . and I think that’s an awfully nice way to do business.

I think it’s important to help those businesses along. From Montie Design’s standpoint, I don’t know that it’s a government role. The best government role there is just less regulation, because regulation ultimately slows down the growth of the smaller companies and . . . slows down the growth of all companies but it really hurts the smaller companies the worst. So, you know, the government’s role, I think, is just to reduce regulation. From a Montie Design role, hey, I’m happy to do podcasts and teach some classes and maybe encourage some folks.

I do think this is a great time in some ways, because all of a sudden, there’s a lot of people rethinking what they can do for a living. And rethinking, you know, how we can manufacture in the U.S. and make that work. I’m excited about that. It’s definitely a difficult economic time all the way around. Economy’s slowing down. But, you know, when there’s change, there’s opportunity. And so, I hope if you’re thinking about, you know, making your own product or . . . or driving forward, you know, that micro-brand or maybe that big brand, I hope that you’ll make that happen.

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to give me a call. Shoot me an email. It’s Montie Roland at 1-800-722-7987. 1-800-722-7987. Or shoot me an email at montie (M-O-N-T-I-E)@montie(M-O-N-T-I-E).com. Or you can visit our website – www.montie.com. Say hi on the chat. We have a little chat app at the bottom right. Click on it and say hi and introduce yourself. And let me know if any of these podcasts are interesting or helpful, or if you have suggestions.

Thanks. Have a great day. Montie Roland, signing off.

END AUDIO

Podcast: When the Customer Is Not Right

Lets chat about times when the customer is not right.  This runs contrary to conventional wisdom, but is good advice.  Lets explore this topic together.

Don’t hesitate to call 800-722-7987 or email montie@montie.com to talk about we can help with your product or project.

When the Customer Is Not Right

Podcast: Listening

Lets spend a few minutes talking about how effective listening can affect the design of a product and client relationships for better or worse. Montie gives his thoughts and tips on this easily overlooked step.

Listening

Please don’t hesitate to send an email to montie@montie.com with any questions or comments.  To find out more about how Montie Design can help you get your products to market, please visit  www.montie.com.

Podcast: Interviews as Part of the Product Design Process

Interviews are an important part of the product design process.  Many times interviews are neglected or poorly executed.  Lets spend a few minutes and talk about the interview process.

Interviews as Part of the Product Design Process
We can help with the design of your next product! Call Montie today at 919-481-1845, visit www.montie.com or email montie@montie.com to set up an appointment or visit to find out more.

Podcast: Types of Prototypes

There are many types of prototypes available today. Lets talk though the various types and help you decide which level of prototype is right for you.

Types of Prototypes

 

If you like what you hear, please give us a call so we can apply our process to your product and help you succeed in the marketplace.  Call 919-481-1845, email info@montie.com or visit www.montie.com to get started!

Here is the transcription of the podcast:

Audio Length: 12:04

Hi. My name is Montie Roland. And I’m with Montie Design in Morrisville, North Carolina.

Today I’d like to talk about prototypes.

What I’d like to do is spend a few minutes kind of going through what is a prototype and what does that term mean, and what are different variations, because those are very important.

When we think about a prototype, most people think something that was handmade and it generally looks like the product and generally functions, but it has some issues. But the broadest definition of prototype could extend all the way to something that’s a written document or that describes the device or service, or a sketch; all the way up to a pre-production prototype, which is almost identical to the production model.

So there’s this broad range. Now, when we get to either extreme of the range, we think about a written document describing something, that generally becomes a product specification. So, we tend to categorize that into some category. A sketch could be a prototype in the broadest sense. We tend to throw that as a, you know, a concept sketch. So, that leaves us with some of the stuff that’s in-between.

When we first start with a project one of the things we want to do is to get an understanding of what the project feels like; where it lives; what’s the context; and once we do that we start making sketches. And from those sketches, we start to get an idea of, you know, what the product can be and some directions we’d like to explore.

Pretty quickly we get to the point where we say, it’d be awful nice to hold this. Because the advantage of a prototype is that everybody in the room can instantly understand a lot about the product just by holding it; picking it up and looking at it. It’s been my experience that you can show videos, animations, drawings – all day long – but, there’s always this moment when people hold the prototype where they go, Oh. And they learn something. Or they tell you something they weren’t able to articulate before.

So, kind of the first level of prototype is what we call a “massing model”. And a massing model is a prototype that probably is non-functional, but has the external characteristics as far as gross size. So you can pick it up, hold it, flip it around, and go, Okay, that’s about the size I expected it to be; or, This fits my hand; or, This doesn’t. So, massing models tend to be crude. They’re made with quick processes. Maybe its 3-D printed; maybe it’s hand-carved from a block of foam. Something that came out of the shop real quick. So the idea there is to have a prototype that gives you that sense of size, shape. And then . . . but before we did the massing model, hopefully, someone proved out that the concept works. So let’s say we have a novel way of . . . I don’t know . . . let’s say shelling beans. Before we build a full-size sheller and we build the control panels and the user interface and the stand and . . . maybe what we ought to do first is to prove that this method will actually shell, let’s say, a butter bean. So, we need to build a proof of concept. A proof of concept, when we’re done, is going to prove that our theory works. So, let’s say that I have a theory that I can shell a butter bean quicker than a mechanical sheller with a blast of air. In that case what I’d want to do is build what we call proof of concept. Proof of concept has no relationship as far as its size, shape, materials, probably, to the product, because in the proof of concept, all we want to do is make sure it works. So we’re going to cobble together whatever we have available. That could pneumatic cylinders; that could be parts in back; stuff we buy at Lowe’s. But in the proof of concept we want to prove to everyone’s satisfaction that if we go forward with a design, we’ll have something that actually works. So that proof of concept is often this Rube Goldberg-type device. It’s overly complicated but we got it to work. Proof of concept and then move on with the design.

So, proof of concept. Maybe at the same time we’re working on a massing model, so we’re working on the industrial design at the same time we’re doing the proof of concept. Sometimes those are done linearly with one before the other. And then the next step is to start creating functional prototypes. These prototypes duplicate the function of the product. As we move forward these functional prototypes get more complex . . . well, hopefully, simpler as we improve the design. But the construction method becomes more precise, I should say. And so we’re proving out that our design works; not the concept works but the design works. And these prototypes are really more meant for use by the staff, engineers, industrial designers. They’re really not meant as a boardroom-type prototype.

So, boardroom-type prototype is a prototype that’s pretty. It has a nice finish; it feels good in your hand; it’s not the kind of prototype you want to beat up in the lab. It’s the kind of prototype you want to put on the boardroom table and have everybody go, Wow; this is great. We’re spending all this money to design this. I really like it. So that prototype that you give to the board members or the CEO or the upper management, is usually one that we want to have that really reflects an inherent quality in the product; that is appropriate for the context which it suits.

So, we’ve been building these functional prototypes. And then at some point we build this . . . I’m going to call it a “pretty prototype” or a “boardroom-class prototype”. And then after that, one of the next steps is to go back and build a beta level prototype or an alpha level prototype. Once you get to this point, you’re really starting to spend more money on the product because you want to have the prototype resemble as closely as possible the finished product. So, for example, sheet metal is always a challenge to prototype because most of the cost for one piece is in the set up. So, for sheet metal part, we might go to somebody at KODAMA or a Rapid Sheet metal, and get them to build a couple pieces, which on a per piece basis, makes it a very expensive part. But, it gives us a chance to validate the design before we make hundreds or thousands of parts. So it’s well worth it.

And these alpha and beta level prototypes are very close to what you would actually expect the product to be. And some differences – let’s say that we have a preproduction prototype, and it’s got an extrusion in it. We may not want to wait six weeks to have an extrusion. So, instead we machine one. Thermally, the performance is very similar. The cost, however, is probably a hundred to a thousand times higher for that particular part – maybe less, depending – then it would be to extrude it. So you have a very high cost part. But on the other hand we have something that’s completely functional.

So, we’ve kind of gone through this gamut here of prototypes from, you know, initial concepts to massing models, proof of concepts, functional prototypes (seen by the engineers), the boardroom-class prototype (which is upper management, board; maybe if you’re going for funding you want to have this beautiful prototype to show off at your pitch), and then the next level of prototype would be a preproduction, or an alpha or a beta, which is very, very similar to materials, construction, to the actual finished product. And that’s kind of how the pipeline of prototypes goes. A couple of best practices: one is to prototype often and prototype early. You always want to be building prototypes, even if it’s just to prototype one particular facet of the device, because that gives you a way to prove it out and make sure your design’s headed on the right track.

As you go through the project, prototypes typically get more expensive. Massing model prototype cut out on the bandsaw out of foam could be pretty inexpensive; whereas a preproduction unit, that’s heavily machine and rapid sheet metal and rapid machine parts, can get very expensive.

So, you want to match the level of prototype to the need and to the audience. It’s always critical. Because you want your prototype to be cost effective. You want it get the job done from a functional standpoint. And then also you want the prototype to reflect where the product is in the pipeline. So, if the product’s almost done, you’re prototypes probably need to be a little nicer than if you just started. And that helps from an acceptance standpoint, both to stakeholders and customers.

We’re a product development firm with core competencies in mechanical engineering and industrial design and prototyping.
I hope this was helpful. We build prototypes all the time. And we’d love to build one for you. My name is Montie Roland. Again, I’m with Montie Design. We’re in Morrisville, North Carolina. If you have any questions or commentary, positive or negative about this podcast, please engage me at montie@montie.com; M-O-N-T-I-E at M-O-N-T-I-E.com. Or give me a call at 919-481-1845. That’s 919-481-1845.

Thanks, and I hope you have a great day.

END AUDIO

 

Podcast: The Corona Effect

Greetings,

The way customers find out about your product has changed.  Customer reviews no play a huge role in the success of your products.  Join me for a short discussion about this.

This podcast was recorded on a rainy evening while I was camping at a place called Troublesome Gap (elevation 3700 feet) in Western North Carolina.  You can even hear the rain during portions of the podcast.

Thanks for listening.

Cheers,
Montie

 

The Corona Effect

Podcast: Referrals & Reviews Part 2

Today’s customer, or client, if very well informed.  Much of this information comes from reviews on the internet.  The effect of internet referrals and reviews on the internet is so important that if you ignore it, your business will quickly suffer.  Lets spend a few minutes talking about how this process works and the Montie Gear process for generating great reviews on the internet.  This is the same process that took Montie Gear from $0 in sales to a six figure sales performer in 3 years.  Click on the play button below to listen.

Please don’t hesitate to email me at montie@montie.com with any comments or if we can help design and roll out your next successful product!  Our social review program is a very cost effective way to get the word out about your product.

Cheers,

Montie

Referrals & Reviews Part 2

Podcast: Referrals & Reviews Part 1

Today’s customer, or client, if very well informed.  Much of this information comes from reviews on the internet.  The effect of internet referrals and reviews on the internet is so important that if you ignore it, your business will quickly suffer.  Lets spend a few minutes talking about how this process works and the Montie Design process for generating great reviews on the internet.  Click on the play button below to listen.

Please don’t hesitate to email me at montie@montie.com with any comments or if we can help design and roll out your next successful product!

Cheers,

Montie

Referrals & Reviews Part 1

Podcast: Cost to Manufacture vs MSRP

Over the years, we’ve found that there is a general lack of knowledge regarding the relationship of the cost to manufacture and selling price.  I would like to take a few minutes and explain why sales costs are normally more than 2 times the cost of producing most products.  Understanding the costs associated with taking a product from manufactured good to a purchased product is important for the entrepreneur, seasoned engineer or businessman.  Please don’t hesitate to call or email with any questions or comments or to discuss how we can put our experience to use for your today!

Cost to Manufacture vs MSRP

Podcast: Understanding Economics Helps Us Design Products with Impact

Lets talk about some of the misconceptions about economics and how that relates to the American political and economics systems.  One big misconception is how wealth is created.  Lets spend a few minutes and dive into the mechanisms of creating wealth.  Its important for entrepreneurs, product designers and engineers to understand how these systems work, so we can design and engineer products that have the greatest benefit for our clients and constituents.  Creation of new products is a great way to benefit our clients, their employees and the community.  Lets dive in and swim through some of these issues.

Misunderstanding Of Economics

Podcast: Building Sales with Test & Evaluation Units

Generating social reviews is a great way to economically launch your product to your market.  These reviews are also invaluable when customers are making a purchasing decision.  We drive these expert reviews with our test and evaluation program.  Montie Gear uses test and evaluation units to drive social reviews.  Lets spend a few minutes talking about how that program works and who should participate.  This program has been very successful for Montie Gear, driving sales to over 100k in 3.5 years with almost no advertising.

Call 1-800-722-7987 today or email montie@montie.com to find out how we can do this for you.

 

Test & Evaluation Units

Podcast: Delivering Great Customer Service

Customer service is one of those topics that we all groan when we think about.  During the daily pressures and responsibilities its easy to put off that email or phone call that means so much to a customer who is waiting for a reply.  Lets spend a few minutes and talk about customer service and what can be done to improve it.  Thanks, in advance, for listening.  Please don’t hesitate to call, or email, with comments or questions.  We’re ready to put our experience designing great products to work for you today.  Call me at 919-481-1845 or email montie@montie.com today.

Delivering Great Customer Service

Podcast: Rapid Prototyping Options

Morning,

Please join the discussion about Rapid Prototyping options that are available for us to use in building your prototypes.

Rapid Prototyping Options

Cheers,
Montie

Weekly Podcast: I Just Need A Protoype

I Need A Prototype

Inventors often come to us and say “I just need a prototype.”  Lets take a look at how we can get that prototype to you.

Podcast: Understanding Your Customer

Understanding Your Customer

Understanding your customer is an important part of a successful part of a new product.  Lets take a few minutes and chat about how to do just that.  This podcast looks at one specific market (Preppers / emergency preparedness / life skills / self reliance) in detail.   Learn how to step out of your comfort zone and look a market that you may have been exposed to before.

Cheers,
Montie