I can’t believe it took a drone to plunk me back into the blog. I’ve never been good at prioritizing.
When the gals in the office are out sick or on vacation, I fill in on the inquiry phone and I get a lots of comments. Here are a few: “How old are you? Do you have a cold? Is this a business? Can I speaka somea onea who speaka da Eeengaleesha?” I also enjoy talking with the perspective customers and learning about what they are interested in. Today, I talked to a man who wants to restore his Mother’s vehicle and use it himself. He asked my name and I gave it. He said, “Oh, you are one of the top people.”
I had to laugh and tell him if he came by the Palmer Industries Totem Pole, he’d stub his toe on me. Talking directly to customers on the phone is very beneficial and I think more companies should try it. I am really annoyed when a company lets me speak to ones who only take your information and say they’ll pass it on. Yeah, right! Customers’ suggestions, compliments and complaints are best way to improve product.
I realize I’m skipping a few years but I’m slow and needed a motivational goal of half way. And 20 years is that date. A lot of my writing is boring. The business has never bored the guys. They are always enthusiastic, even when their ideas don’t reach their expectations. Like Tommy Edison, they found out what didn’t work. I’ve contributed a few brilliant ideas myself, like when they designed a stronger more powerful motor, I wanted them to make it faster. No one saluted my speed flag. But they did let me try a vehicle with one of our testing motors. If it had wings, it would have flown. It was so exciting, but frightfully exciting. Too fast for me or the others to feel comfortable and in control. This “Don’t tell me, Show me” mid western female learned they were right. So we kept with 13 MPH speed that seems to agree with most of our pilots.
By this time, we had given up on the government helping pay for our American made mobility products. They approved them but would not help our customers pay for one. Our government had become our biggest competitor, and still is.
The newer vehicle seemed streamlined to us then. Although shifting was easy, automatic was a big improvement attention wise and made it easier for people who had a stroke to just twist grip for more speed without shifting.
Also, that middle of the vehicle shifter was eliminated and single seat female driver could wear a skirt or dress without wrinkling it.
Little improvements make our products more useful. However, every change means a new Owners Manual and Parts List. And someone has to keep up on all that paperwork!!! Tell us you need a part and we have to look in the right Owners Parts list to send you what you need. This year, our 40th year in business, finds us without our original suppliers as over half have gone under, gone overseas or sold to someone else who manufactures different part configurations. We pride ourselves on having parts for everything we’ve made and that takes a lot of resourcing time. Our degreed engineers are good but in many cases, the guys working the nuts and bolts, screwdrivers, and hoists come up with simple, effective solutions to complex problems. Bless the do-it-yourselfer engineers that we are lucky to have as co-workers. I’m over my word count.
Check out our new Hybrids http://palmerind.com/electric/hybrid.php
My thoughts on:
I saw the CEO of Amazon proudly display his newest delivery gadget. What was he thinking? Another Nobel invention to spread havoc across his, ours or other nations. We could solve many problems with this. Talk about your germ warfare, how about viruses and the lowly bacteria not to mention illnesses and flesh eating prowlers. And in less than 30 minutes they can invade the unsuspecting..
Maybe it will save money. No need for disease control workers. It can’t work. And how about the air space above your home. Full of copters competing for your sales, health insurance, loyalty, religion or even maybe your patriotism. How high up do we own? Can we sell it like our underground resources?
Talk about space invasion, Airwaves once free, now owned by drone heads. Beer glass, tear gas, locktite, dynamite, cookers, hookers (they’ll soon get past the 5 lb limit.) and all within 30 minutes of your order or whoever sends it to you.
Oh please deliver us from this evil, but not by drone!
Back from annual Ski trip to Vail. Lots and Lots of snow! Usually warmer, but Brrrr 5 degrees at 11000 plus feet. Late March is great skiing. These old bones love to fall in powder!!
By 1992, although we had been in business 20 years it didn’t seem like it. We were well known by those in the business but the general public didn’t have a clue as to who we were, where we were, or what we made. We had even been on “Let’s Make a Deal” and had donated one for a Drawing at a National Disabilities Show in NYC where a rather disheveled man, with no Visitor ID tag, but a boozy odor, gingerly hopped on it, and toothlessly grinned as he drove away through the crowd of disappointed folks who looked like they needed transportation. C’est la vie. We had spent a lot of money pioneering our outdoor scooter.
Many people wanted and/or needed our scooters for mobility, but they could get a smaller one for free from the government. Medicare was becoming our biggest competitor. They were paying for the smaller, indoor scooters, most of which are made in China and shipped here to distributors. They would not pay for an outdoor vehicle made by Americans. But if you look at the small scooter ads, you see the smaller vehicles outdoors. In business you gotta roll with the punches around the obstacle. So we diversified even more. In the 90’s we kept improving the vehicles with more powerful motors, and selling pedal trikes with and without motors. We also sold bare motors. A University bought our motors. They told us of their ideas and JPII answered all their questions, gave a few suggestions and Voila, their Robots became winners in the the highly electric/mechanical Robot competitions where Universities challenge each other. The students were dynamic engineers who will soon be using their knowledge to enhance all our lives. And our little motors helped spin their creativity. We also began to think about changing the electric scooters’ power drive and speed controller. We went through numerous changes, and miles of testing. Here’s where my VIP status comes to fruition. They put me on the scooter to see how “Very Idiot Proof” it is. They give me no instructions except do not make fast turns. I then drive away up hill, down hill, through grass, dirt road, the softest wet earth I can find, over small bridges and over those scarey bridges with little holes in the patterns, down by the creek through the mud. I like to get it stuck. The new motor was more powerful and gave me a jolt when it went over about a 3 ” diameter log, Not recommended but capable if I hung on tight. Lots of changes were necessary but we sent out two prototypes to our high mileage riders. They put them through their paces and by 2001, we were offering an automatic shift, and an electronic speed controlled scooter. It was very quiet. The older scooter had to be shifted . It was easy to do but required Shift Lever in Center of the machine. Now, the rider didn’t have to choose a gear or shift for highest speed. A louder horn was used as pedestrians couldn’t hear the scooters approaching. We continue to stock parts for our outdoor scooters with Shifter. In fact, most of those are still in use and we have parts for all of them.
Our scooters are made to last!
Past my word limit.
The time was the mid 80’s, we were computerized, but not yet cybernized. Our Single and Double seat scooters were perking along, and with a still fairly limited budget, we grew gradually. Our 1986 Literature mailout included A 4 color Brochure, Order Form, a Palmergram and a sheet containing customers pictures, commendations and complaints.
The brochure was designed, as best I could, to resemble a photo album. It had old, small B & W pictures of our family and larger colored pictures of different views of the the electric scooters we made. Had you requested this catalog over the 40 years we’ve been in business, you would have seen the people in the large color photos becoming the age of the people in the old pictures. We just updated product views and used same folks also updated.
The Palmer Independence scooter in 1986, cost 2100 bucks. The Palmer Twoseater, 2500. There were 26 Optional Accessories one could purchase for them. Today’s costs: PI Independence $5000. PI Twosome $5500. Today’s Optional Accessories number 65. The Order Form listed 2 vehicles in 86, We now sell 23 motorized and non motorized.
The Palmergram was a small 4 page newsletter full of mostly “stuff” we woman like. It came out twice year, had hints and tricks for the one who piloted their scooter, about how to fix minor things, keep it waxed and how to take care of bat†eries if being gone 2 or 3 months. Also what you could purchase locally that would save you shipping cost from us. Each “gram” had a recipe from one of my family. Not me! Am a lousy cook and as Jack says, “Her timer is the smoke detector”. It also contained quotes that seemed to fit the times but offended no one.
At that time, most sales were made by sending literature out to inquiries that read our Ads. Brochures, and newsletter and pictures plus the postage to send them amounted to quite a bit. We stuffed them ourselves and finally got a postage meter that ka-chinged away our money in what seemed nano seconds to me. But it did save time. We answered every inquiry with a mailing and never sold or gave away an inquirers’ name, address or phone number as did many of our competitors. The computer has certainly changed the path of marketing. I know a guy that has never made anything that is useful to society, never went out to work a day in his life, yet makes more money than we ever will selling things on Ebay that he never sees, touches, or mails. He has item drop shipped from supplier to customer. And here’s what makes me the maddest, I can’t figure if I hate his ability to so easily make money or admire him for getting away with it. And what, if anything, is he guilty of? This thinking is very tiring.
Just learned of the Great Historical find of the Skull of Richard 111. I am so excited that England, and for that matter, all the world has found another piece of humanitie’s past. The world is so full of wonderful surprises. I won’t dwell on it but am feeling, Hot Diggity Dog, it’s Dickie!
Having spoken of a few of the competitors, I’ll speak of the business scenerio that occurred after we were computerized. Competition became stronger yet we were busy improving our scooters or outdoor wheelchairs or what ever you wished to call them depending on the use of it. Our first benefit of computers was to simplify the paperwork. It was so useful to keep track of owners of our products. Once we learned to operate it correctly, we put in the information we had on our Index Cards and it was a lot. We keep a profile on every product. Other than what and who purchased it, we are able to continuously update the vehicles record. We made our own little ” Vehiclefacts” before we ever heard of “CarFax”. Each scooter purchase date, location, configuration when new, added accessories, replaced parts, accidents, changed battery configuration, kind of use, new owner, new location, condition when told, if stolen, damaged or if we worked on it for any reason is in our computer records. So now in 2013, if someone buys a used one from a previous owner, we can tell, age, any parts or configurations changed and can with confidence send the correct part if needed. I think our computer has helped our products survive the test of time. Not too many people were on the earlier computers, so sales did not come through e-mails. Our customers are generally above 50 and it takes a long time for we older folks to adapt to new fangled things. Even using the computer early on I didn’t realize the potential it brings to communication. I hear snoring, so fare thee well till we meet again.
OH boy, Oh boy, this is our quieter time so I get to blog some more. As I said in last blog, we had many who jumped on our band wagon we were steering toward wealth. Competition is a two headed animal. It’s good because it keeps us on our toes and always trying to improve our products. It’s good to meet the honest competition at trade shows. You have a lot in common and can help each other in many ways. It’s nice to see same folks at the business gatherings away from home and hear their updates on what worked and what flopped this year. Unfortunately those were few in number. But there were a lot of Yahoos jumping on the band wagon. They were the other head of competition. Seldom did they introduce themselves as to who they were or their product. And if they did, it was usually to gain your confidence for some kind of benefit to them alone.
My first experience was with a fresh from college young man who came into our booth and made fun of our product, He brought a couple of young, rude dudes who agreed with his loud criticism. I was surprised at his attitude but age was on my side. A few months later, there was an exact copy of the derided product in his booth. The business was formed with Daddy’s money and the guy had purchased 10000 motors like we used. He later tried to sell us the motors that did not sell.
Then there was the Tricycle Manufacturer who had a contract with Sears. He bought some motors and sold them on his trikes. This was the Summer season and at the fall Show, there he was, in his usual booth, with his own motor kit on his trike and said, “I made a better one”. It looked very much the same as ours. He went out of the motor kit business the next year.
A couple had some good ideas, but strangely, having the best product doesn’t sell it. Remember VHS and Beta? No doubt about the best, but Beta didn’t have the marketing acumen so all bought VHS. And for myself, I’ve made many a “faux pas” like yelling at the kids to stop playing those stupid video games. They won’t benefit you in any way in life.
Last month, I learned some of the best players are now Pilots. Drone Pilots. Well, shut my mouth for now!
I just want to say hello and wish everyone a Healthy and Happy 2013. Also, thanks to all those who we work side by side with and those who supply Palmer Industries with quality products and services. Thanks for blessing us with your talents.
I’m back. It’s been a while and I missed writing, however I acquired some new things and lost some old. As for the new, I have a hole in my head and two Titanium screws. One is a bit lose and makes a small point on my noggin. Not on top but above left ear pointing towards whatever is to the left of me. For loss, surgery on brain seems to have cauterized a few memories. Since I can’t remember them, where is the loss? It’s good to back bangin the bits.
Now, to continue where I left off.
Simple computering was difficultized in our office by age and fear. The girls and I stumbled into cyberspace together. We were afraid to push keys that didn’t spell something.
JP had said the computer would cut down on paper work. Little did he realize we made instruction notes on every move we made the first six months. Which was the On button, how to open it, how long to wait before touching it again. Why the screen was still dark. Which button in back turned something on. Lisa’s small screen shrank with notes jutting at every angle and arrows pointing hither and thither. An open office window with a good breeze put us in jigsaw puzzle mode hastily trying to reattach all of our notes.
I felt the Apple Club hated to see me come in with my list of questions for Show and tell time. I had no idea of computerese and my thingamajigs and doohickies didn’t translate. When JP said we had to back up the computer, I shoved it to the back of the desk.
But his persistence paid off and although we could do nothing about our ages, the fear diminished as we delighted in the speed and accuracy of that tan machine with a colorful striped apple greeting us every morning.
It proved much more efficient for us as we missed no inquiry question since they were listed with a blank line to fill in. It also made our advertising better. Took quite a while and a great number of courses to learn the graphic aspects of designing advertisements, brochures and flyers. When the charge for a 2″ advertisement bites $6000.00 out of your Advertising budget, you better have just what you want. Mistakes were extremely costly.
The competition was also expanding. We had made the first electric attachable kit on the market for adult three wheelers. Many jumped on our little bandwagon.
Attempting to write a life line of the company is more emotional than expected. So exciting at times, so eyebrow raising at others. As for the Chronology, I am fortunate enough to work with a planner. And a planner keeps a small notebook with him/her as a to do list, appointment schedule, reminder of names, dates and promises. Thank the powers that be it’s too small to also include his ” to do”list for me. However it comes in handy that he’s kept most of those little yearly day by day calendar books. I dig them out of their storage box to remind me of the next happening.
As we began expanding our product line, we entered the computer age. The mention of it threw the office people into a tizzy. “We write the inquiries down on long lists of papers with the questions printed that we ask, we keep type written index cards on every customer that owns any of our products. We can’t answer a phone and type at the same time. I’ve heard,there are a zillion codes to memorize. Those computers like to crash.” Our complaints were in vain.
A Lisa showed up on the biggest wooden desk in the office. It boasted an enormous 128K of ram what ever that meant. JP thought the easiest and quickest way to learn computing on was an Apple. Maybe all our protests weren’t in vain.
He also liked the Lisa because of its graphic abilities. He had decided a on a Program that seemed compatible with what we needed in addition to what came with the Apple Computer. It was called 1st Base, a non relational data base programing language. To enhance our knowledege of the computer and what it could do for us, he and reluctantly I joined the local Apple Club. Over the years, the choice of an Apple Computer and the knowledge gleaned from the creative innovators in our club has proved invaluable to our business.
Time seemed to fly by during the years we built the transaxle drive vehicles. During this era, we were still selling our attachable electric kits for bikes and trikes. If that wasn’t enough, the guys designed a yardkart for the farmers who were suppose to be retired but just couldn’t stop farming even if their homestead is now a couple acres. They are the folks who live for the joy of, “tickle the earth with a hoe and she laughs with harvest”
The Yardkart has wider wheels on the rear, so it has more traction for pushing vehicle. The guys left the regular Moped wheel on front end as it makes it easier to steer. The vehicle is designed to run on softer surfaces and carry things on the platform behind the seat.
We also began selling pedal tricycles at this time. Seems they are not an available item in many parts of the country. Also, some people who preferred to use pedal or power on a trike wanted the whole “kit n kaboodle” in one delivery.
Of course it didn’t end there. Now we have a three wheel trike for people who like to ride outdoors but don’t have the balance they once did. What else could you want?
Lots, we learned. Interested people, unable to use their legs, said, ” Without much effort, you could rearrange the foot pedals to hand pedals.” I was opposed to this expansion. My thoughts were as a small company we just can’t have a smorgasbord of products to offer. Too many items to stock, too many parts to inventory, too much space to rent. Our brochure would look like a mini Sears catalog.
I thought we learned our lesson when we had three times the employees, sent a lot of the income out to another source of supplies, worked harder and didn’t make that much more money, just processed it. They rolled right over my list of negatives with, first an adult Handcycle, and then, had to have one for the kids.
As the project progressed. I heard, “Let’s build a trailer for our vehicles.” “Oh yes”, said the other engineer, “A folding one!”
Forgive me but, I’m getting too agitated to write more at this time