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Paralell industries

Marc Lizer

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Let's name some:

While there is no carbon-copy, what other industries have, not only the issues we have (big boxes, lack of biz skills/interest, homebased/retail among other things) as well as ones with a simmilar mentality, turnaround time, and ability to outsource issues.

After going intrument shopping the idea for the thread came along.

After getting it, and then taking it to a repair shop to have it modified, I thought gotta be a definite thread.

After it not being done yet, and the shop saying "we are backed up and a solid week behind." I thought "is this a frame shop?"

I have some outer thoughts on simmilarites and what it all means. As well as what other industries seem to be just like us (for better or for worse).

But I think that youze grumblers may just have better ideas.

I've got some thoughts,
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Framing Goddess

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I have seen the look in the eyes of my local-bike-repair-shop-guy that seems awfully familiar!

Let's see, he has to undo and redo other people's work, he sells new bikes (he says October is slow- too late for summer and too early for Xmas) and a big part of his work is customizing bikes to folks' rear ends. He sells accessories as well as inline skates and skateboards.
He is a workshop as well as retail and he works his @ss off.
Similar in some ways, I suppose.

Framing Goddess

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
My boyfriend Paul services and restores Jaguars for a living.

He has competition from the big boxes- dealerships as well as the Firestones and the big tire stores. The biggest problem is that they lure away the employees with better benefits.
He also has to frequently undo others' messed-up repairs and then get to the original problem.
He has to extract payment from restoration customers who pay as they go, but decide to pay what they feel like paying instead of the invoiced amount. This puts a huge crimp in the rhythm of the restoration because new parts are arriving continuously.
A very labor intensive biz, esp. the restoration end of it where they do often have to manufacture a part to fit an antique vehicle.
Lots of guys do work like this in their backyards- some are competent, some are not!
He has similar issues with suppliers shipping wrong or defective parts.
I will not mention incompetent employee issues.
He deals with rich folks who don't like to part with their money and feel that it is all negotiable.

The Main Difference:
And this is a big one- he is not retail. Selling leaper and growler keychains does not count.

B. Newman

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I once wrote an article comparing the auto repair industry to the picture framing industry.

"Being considered", but not sold yet. It's one of those articles that they just don't know where to put... sorta like me!



<span style="color: red"><b><i>Charter Member</i><
The plumber, I do what I can or did but have finally reached that point in life where I just remember the phone number. They compete with those pushing inferior quality merchandise. I do think they have at least had their hourly labor charges higher. I certainly would not want their full time job.


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Cabinet / furniture makers
Interior designers
Floor & tile designers / installers
Landscape designers
Architects / builders
Professional photographers

If you are good, you can charge almost anything you want. These guys are in the same boat as many framers. Not everybody appreciates or can afford them. Everyone else goes to Bob's, Home Depot, Costco, K-Mart, and Michaels. They are more likely to live in a house that looks like their neighbors and have their pictures taken at Sears.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with either. Everyone has different priorities at different times in there life. No doubt, both roads will be difficult.

I think you need to make a choice. Which market do you want to compete in? If you want to be the biggest, then model yourself like the Big Boxes. If you want to be the best, go after those who appreciate great service and products. Create your own unique identity.


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Definitely professional photographers! I've always been struck by the similarities between photographers and framers and between those two industries. Both are full of people who are creative, want to earn a living with that creativity but often lack business skills. There are many home based people in both but I think photography has more people who get into without a clear understanding of what they are doing than framing. Both go through a yearly cycle of being really busy during the last few months of the year. Both have to compete against the big chain stores for a living. Both are industries were it is easy to wind up working many long hours for very little pay because you really like what you are doing but are afraid to charge what you are worth. Years ago, I heard Jay Goltz give a talk on the dos and don't of being in the framing business. I laugh so hard at some of them I nearly fell out of my chair because they were the same things that I see people in photography do.

Al E

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Parenthetically, does anyone know where one could find Jay's "do's & don'ts". see above


PFG, Picture Framing God
Betty, I think that we talked about this at one time, didn't we?

The framing industry is one of the very few if not the only profession left today that could be loosely called a "cradle to the grave" industry. That is, we take "raw" materials (as raw as they come now days) and we combine these "raw" materials using various processes that alter the size, texture, and placement of these materials (at the wholesale level) into a finished product that we then retail out to our customers.

We are involved in the manufacture of the raw materials too sometimes (hand gilded frame mouldings, hand wrapped mats and liners), the wholesale manufacture of a custom made product based many times on an original design, and the retail marketing of that original design to the end user, our customer.

Folks, I feel that we are a very unique breed of hand workers. What other profession do you know of that resembles what we do on a daily basis? I know that is a redundant question to what Marc originally asked but think about it. We are a breed apart from others in the work world.


David N Waldmann

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Originally posted by Framerguy:
That is, we take "raw" materials (as raw as they come now days)......We are involved in the manufacture of the raw materials too sometimes
Not to detract from how involved you sometimes are in making what you do, but "raw materials" is a step or three below what I think you are working with - please correct me if I'm wrong. Raw materials are not manufactured. They are harvested, or maybe extracted.

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc:
Raw material, any crude, unfinished, or elementary materials that are adapted to use only by processes of skilled labor. Cotton, wool, ore, logs, etc., are raw material.

Lumber still comes from trees and gold still comes from ore. Just because most of us don't have the skill, knowledge or equipment to use them doesn't make them any less raw materials.

That said, I will agree that few "industries" have such pervasive value added services as the custom framer.


PFG, Picture Framing God
Hi David,

I knew when I wrote that bit that I would be challenged by one of the manufacturers that frequent the Grumble! I am NOT trying to demean anything that the manufacturers do to make the products that we use in the framing industry. I was merely making a poor example of using what is considered "bulk goods" to make a finished product for retail sale. I know it all depends on the degree of "finish" you want to use in your definition but we do make many of our finished products in the frame shop from materials that are rather usless unless somebody does SOMETHING with them first.

The point of the post was to get some feedback about what we do compared to, say, a blacksmith who I classify in much the same category as a framer.

Sorry if I ruffled any feathers on the "raw materials" issue.


David N Waldmann

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
You didn't ruffle my feathers.

We don't use raw materials either. And I think very few, if any, other moulding manufacturers use raw materials either. I was only trying to show that the world is bigger than we usually think about it being.

B. Newman

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
When Tom and I were talking about "raw" materials, we were conversing in terms of any item that we as craftsmen start with to create the thing that we do. (By using the term "craftsmen" I am ignoring the "business" side right now on purpose.)

Artists start with canvas and paint, or paper and pencil, potters start with clay, photographers start with film and seamstresses/tailors start with fabric. That's as "raw" as most of us get. But the issue remains that we (craft/artists, etc) do all the "processes" to get to the end user.

There are other industries that are similar in the business model concerning competition etc, but there are very few other than "hands on people" that do what we do, from start to finish.



CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
No one has mentioned a tailor or seamstress, maybe because most of us don't use their services? I think it would be safe to assume that most don't stock bolts of the hundreds of fabric swatches they show.

Another one is a specialized bakery -- especially one that caters to weddings & special occasions. There are quite a few home based wedding cake designers out there....and frequent full pay required days in advance. Though they may "stock" flour & eggs & food coloring, most of the extras (like the bride & groom or whatever for the top) are ordered.
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