We had god damn better not. I honestly don't think I could mentally deal with that happening again. It has been one of the worst and most frustrating experiences in my life. I cannot even tell you....
Next year we will...
1) Have a ski factory up and running vs starting to build one, including two ski press, from scratch starting August 1st (first day we got into this space)
2) Have a redesigned factory tailored to optimize everything we learned this year, including 2 new grinders for ski finishing, better mold set ups to make mold swaps significantly faster, better core processing set up, etc, etc. The current factory has tons of wasted space and will be much improved with a bit of work.
2) Be correctly employed. We should have had 3 employees working all the time at all times this year. Small business is tough and it requires a HUGE amount of commitment and time (for example, I have had about 10 days off since we moved in August 1st, Rowen and I have been living at the factory for 6 months now, and I've skied less than 3 full days all season), but for a number of reasons that just unfortunately did not happen this year, leaving just two of us to do much of the work at times, and completely alone since the middle of February. For the two of us, it was just far too much work. A couple people have asked why we didn't bring someone in earlier. It was, looking back, a mistake on my part. Caulk it up to just one of the mistakes I made in my first year running a company/being a boss. By the time I had come to the point of dealing with it, we felt it was too late to get someone in here and trained up to speed for what we needed done. There are just too many places to mess skis up and too many things to learn for Rowen and I to be spending time training someone. We are bring on someone new as a full time, salaried position in the coming weeks that can spend sometime training before we start production and might even bringing on a 4th as a temporary summer job, along with continuing to work with the intern we currently have.
3) Have a year under our belt, as well as starting with 2 trained employees, vs just me. The way I cut bases/edges skis along with the cassette method/style I used in Tacoma are completely different than what we use now, and I had to develop them this year when we ran into issues. That unfortunately took us way too long and by the time I finally got a edging and cassette set up that worked for us at the speed it needed to, it was January. Also, Rowen has learned a ton this year and can now do core processing and ski finishing almost completely on his own. Not to toot our own horn, but the base finishes we've been putting out are the best I've ever seen on a production ski. Neither him or I had ever ground a ski before we got our machine in December, and it also took us some time to get it down correctly.
4) Starting ski production as soon as we can. We have some changes to certain models that need to be finalized in the next 6 weeks. Luckily I am pretty happy with most of the skis in the line, but there are some changes coming along with one semi-new model (old tacoma model coming back), so we need to spend sometime working on them to make sure we are happy. But I want to get back to a more reasonable production schedule. We started behind last year and are still playing catch up. This year I want to start working on skis as soon as the middle of May, and next year it will begin even earlier.
5) We are limiting our presale which will occur this spring. First, it will ensure that the number of orders we have to fulfill is a good portion lower than what we think we can build and second, because frankly, these skis are just too damn expensive to build and presale pricing is not exactly a money marker, and while I want everyone to be able to afford the skis, I also need to be realistic about what keeps the company alive, which at the end of the day is ultimately money. At some point we want to start inching out of the red, and with our overhead and cost of materials, doing it with presale pricing is quite the feat. We also want to move away from a presale format more and more. I hope this spring presale to be our last and to become a more typical company which runs our production spring-summer and has skis ready to purchase in the fall. That depends on how things go for us volume wise and on a number of other factors. We could always go the other way and go full custom, high pricing, and low volume, although right now that is not the path we are aiming for.
Anyway, in summary - we had better not be late again. We definitely asked too much of ourselves this year with the late start in building the factory and starting production, and in a phrase - go our ass' handed to us. We're committed, smart guys though, and I don't think we will make the same mistake again.