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Thread: Life in a ONE person shop!

  1. #1
    Distinguished SOTW Technician Doc Frazier's Avatar
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    Default Life in a ONE person shop!

    I have a been a member of SOTW since 2003 and I try to read/ponder posts as often as I can. In the last several months a re-occurring theme has surfaced that (to me) sometimes can be very discouraging and at some points severely depressing.

    I'm sure by now everyone has heard, read or talked about the lost/stolen mouthpieces of Phil Barone. I have known Phil for several years and have done his plating work for almost as long. He is one of the most "straight up" people I have ever met (a little blunt sometimes but still straight up!). I can tell you from past experiences how depressing it is when you put out your best work to have it disappear before it arrives at its proper destination. We had a $4000.00 restoration disappear in a two mile distance between the post office and the airport. With the return of the $ to customer, the loss of income and the $ that I had put out for labor (mine), custom parts and with the cost of silver and 24K gold it hit pretty hard. Phil is the same way. He (like myself) is a 1 person shop doing ALL of the work.

    I have been talking with Phil a lot lately. He cares about his customers. He cares about making a quality, hand-made product for his customers. He not only has his regular orders to make but a replacement batch to cover the lost/stolen pieces. You have to remember he is just ONE person working extra hours to fill the orders and suffering the stress that goes with the situation that he was forced into. I know the pieces were made because I plated them!

    Some of you may/may not know that my wife and I had a car wreck in June '09 (they hit us) which caused me to have major surgery and my wife is now unable to help me. Yes, we were hurt physically and due to the lady NOT having insurance we have been hurt financially and emotionally. Now I am forced to do everything here since my wife can't help, working extra long hours to cover the time in the hospital and recovery because of somebody else’s careless actions. Bear in mind that our shop also does musical instrument repair/restoration and other plating work besides Phil's pieces.

    What I see happening is that people fail to remember that not every business has a fully staffed factory to do all of the work. People also don't realize or don't care that Phil, myself or others like us...i.e...a one person shop...can only do so much before there is a physical/mental breakdown. When we are forced into situations that are beyond our control we don't give up but do what we can to make it right in the shortest time possible. Life for a one person shop doesn't stop. It still has its ups and downs that we have to endure.

    Phil has been working night and day to make the replacement pieces and I just received that batch to plate. It really concerns me that before I received them this week that I have myself received 20 calls/emails/text complaining at/to me because they haven't been plated and returned yet. Dang folks, I can't plate them BEFORE they get here! I am the only one who answers the phone, repairs, restores and plates here and with all of the calls, etc.. it slows me down so now my day has been FORCED into the night to make up for the time the complaints took that I should not be getting! While I'm sitting here typing this I have received 2 more!

    Encourage him as he goes through this. I will tell ya right now that he IS NOT like an infamous mouthpiece maker that only wanted the money and ran. Phil is not going anywhere. I'm not either. Just going through one of life's valleys to get to the mountain top on the other side.

    Have a blessed day!
    Doc Frazier
    www.JandJWoodwinds.com
    1-866-996-6394

  2. #2
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    LampLight's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    In reading through customer comments, it seems to me like most people do not see Phil as anything like the infamous mouthpiece maker that only wanted the money and ran, and I don't either. Many are just tired of being told over and over that the mouthpieces will be there by date X. You and Phil have indeed had many troubles, so your view is very understandable, and also very vendor-centric. It is easy to understand that customers would take a different, customer-centric view, and I can think of at least one other mouthpiece maker who seems to have lost considerable popularity here as a result of repeated delays. When Phil was hospitalized for surgery, the response on this forum was for the most part one of sympathy and patience as I recall, and properly so IMO. I think a lot of customers see the delays differently (and properly so IMO).
    Be cool, be kind, and be well.

    And don't Just Do It. Do It Correctly!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    Sorry to learn of your troubles (and you don't even mention Katrina). Your posts are a generally very informative and a joy to read. The pics I have seen of your work is something to behold. Best of luck.

  4. #4
    Forum Contributor 2014 Sidepipes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    Doc did an outstanding job on my Grassi Pro alto. His communication and correspondence were great. Sorry to hear of "the valleys" in this life.

    All the best,

    Sidepipes
    "Lets Play!"

  5. #5
    Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2010 magical pig's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    I understand being a one person operation and everything that it encompasses. OTOH, a deadline is a deadline. When you have a bunch of customers waiting for your pieces, it is bad practice to give successive delayed deadlines. I think you'd better re-evaluate your work capacity and provide your customers with realistic expectations.

  6. #6
    BrunOfOne's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    I agree with LampLight. I know and understand that one man running a business is hard work, and that recouping lost time is next to impossible. The "stolen hollywood" customers are mad because they were told for 4 months that they would have their mouthpieces in 2 weeks. That's the crazy thing. I have said over and over that I respect what you and Phil are doing, and I respect that it takes time, so I'm willing to wait for my purchase. But, being told I'd have my MP on Oct 30, then it actually gets sent to the plater on Feb 27, that's just ridiculous. If he told me I'd have it in April, and I got it mid-March, I'd be pretty happy. Yeah the situation sucks, and we realize that, but it could have been handled better.
    GAS-free since Feb 2011

  7. #7
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    I also understand what it is to run a one man business. At times there are unexpected situations, but if you ar in business you should always be covered for those, whether it's insurance, family or friends who can help out when disaster strikes.

    If you can't do an of those things then at least be honest with the customers. Unless you do that, asking for sympathy won't get you very far. My customers are musicians, and a professional musician is also running a one man business. There needs to be mutual understanding, but above all honest communication.

  8. #8
    Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2010 magical pig's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    My customers are musicians, and a professional musician is also running a one man business.
    I like this.

  9. #9
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    Quote Originally Posted by magical pig View Post
    I like this.
    Well, it's basically about being professional.
    Often there is a chain of businesses, suppliers etc.

    I get books printed, I rely on the printer and the binder. Both one man businesses. I get mouthpieces made, I rely on the manufacturer. Again a one man business who relies on suppliers.

    Anything can go wrong, but if you are professional you are either prepared for disasters, whether acts of God, illness, or at least have the respect to communicate honesty with your customers and be prepared to refund them if you do not meet the expectations. Simple as that.

  10. #10
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    BTW, I just took some time to look around the site of Doc Frazier, there is some absolutely stunning and outstanding work - I really wish I could find somebody nearer to home that could do that kind of finish.

  11. #11
    Forum Contributor 2009 al9672's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    The shipping isn't that bad Pete , I brought a soprano from him a few years ago.

  12. #12
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    as Pete says , in any business problems can and will always happen, more so in a one man band business . No-one can prevent a crisis or an emergency. Once shite has happened , and it can happen to anyone, the most important thing is to communicate with your customers and , as much as possible, if at all foreseeable , do not attempt to describe the the crisis any better than it is and if you need a month extra say it is a month and if it is two you say it is two. Shite happens! One can sugarcoat it, but it stays shite. One needs to call a spade a spade.

    Customers will be displeased but they will understand. If communication is based on a too optimistic evaluation of the crisis then people will tend to get less understanding if they are told it is a matter of weeks and then it turns out to be months. There is nothing worse than setting deadlines after a crisis and do not meet them.

    I don mean to criticise Doc Fraser or Phil Barone. I am not involved in this at all. I've just read the threads. There are lessons to be learned there for all the parties involved.

    Good luck to all of whom had to endure problems and setbacks.

    I wish you all good health, wisdom and prosperity.

  13. #13
    MusicalCharities's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    With all due respect, I do not think that this issue ever should have had reason to be taken to Doc. I clearly do not hold him responsible for any of what happened, as he is clearly not MAKING the pieces--and I ever understand the issues that came up with the accident last summer--I was totally fine with that, things like that happen.

    What I am most displeased with is the constant run-around all of us who were in the lost batch have been given. I would be FAR more understanding if Phil had made the situation clear immediately-- that it would be 5 months later that I would receive a new mouthpiece,(this already being after a 4 month wait due to the mouthpieces being stolen!) rather than to be told it would be here in 2 weeks ...and then another two weeks....and then another two weeks...and another two weeks....and....and...

    And to be honest, as a customer, anyone should realize that after a certain (many) number of promised deadlines were not met , there would come a time where a customer would start to be skepitcal and mistrusting. That's just a fact of life. I am sorry people had to resort to calling Doc just to verify the status of their order, but when I got messages from SOME of the people in the stolen batch saying that they were told that the mpcs were ALREADY AT THE PLATER 3 weeks ago (which is why people started calling Doc before they had arrived, btw) and I am then told that the mouthpieces would be at the plater SOON?....Well, what am I supposed to believe? What is the truth? Especially given all the times we'd been told that the mouthpieces would be at the platers "in the next few weeks"...Heck , I even remember a post stating that they would be plated in December.

    I do realize that it's a one-man-show on both Phil's end and Doc's, and give that special consideration given the circumastances--But that is why there is ALL the more reason for a one-person manufacturer to retain credibility, and be able to to maintain one's word when it is given. And maybe there was a health issue that came up with Phil. And that would have been fine. But it was unfair for him to give unrealistic expecations --it certainly created a lot of tension and a big rollercoaster ride for me not truly knowing what was going on.

    So I think people had every reason to want to dig for more information and look into the matter on Doc's end. Who amoung you would do any differently when everyone was being told so many different tales?

  14. #14
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    I sympathise with you doc, but a deadline is a deadline. Sometimes a week is acceptable if you talk to the customer but from what Im gathering here we are talking months, sorry but thats unacceptable, regardless of the reason, in all honesty maybe the customers should have been contacted and orders cancelled and monies returned.

    As far as one man shop, yes I agree it can be hard, but one has to be realistic about what one can do in a timely manner, also this applies to most small business's, if you get hurt there is nothing really built into the equation to cover lost money from no work, Insurances are a must.

    Realistically we can do the best job in the world but if the customer is not looked after either by information or service then we will end up with the reputation that goes along with it. Ive had plenty of times were a job has been held up for reasons out of my control but I always look after the customer and keepo them informed, this even means that if its my fault and its been a month, the job is free, simple as that
    Life is to short to get caught up in the truth, Relax and just let life go on by, move at your own pace and rhythm
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  15. #15
    Distinguished SOTW Technician Doc Frazier's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    Simso,

    I understand the deadline issue. I truely understand things happen. My thing is that I have people calling/texting/emailing me about the mouthpiecesl like they are buying them from me! Some have been pleasant but some have been very abusive. Why am I being drug behind the truck? I have my faults too and I definitely can't throw rocks at anybody else including Phil. I'm NOT going to condemn Phil or anyone else for what has/has not happen over the lost/stolen mouthpieces. I do not know every detail nor am I a mind reader for this situation but just the number, aggressive nature and length of the calls alone are beginning to interfere with operations here. I try to help people any way that I can but it shames me that members of our "community" can act like this.

    Pete,

    You can contact me privately anytime to discuss finishes needs.
    Doc Frazier
    www.JandJWoodwinds.com
    1-866-996-6394

  16. #16
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    I do not think it is fair or appropriate for anybody with grievances about these mouthpieces to contact Doc Frazer , let alone being abusive, their contract is solely with Phil Barone , perhaps it was unwise of Phil Barone to reveal details about who is doing the plating

  17. #17
    Distinguished SOTW Technician Doc Frazier's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    I don't have problem with people knowing. I feel people need to be more considerate.
    Doc Frazier
    www.JandJWoodwinds.com
    1-866-996-6394

  18. #18
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    well, because people are obviously not considerate.......... perhaps it would be better not to divulge such thing..........they have a contract with Phil Barone , he has a contract with you........
    It is a chain of responsibility and you shouldn't have been subject to phone calls at all, let alone abusive ones! I am astonished that people would do such a thing!

  19. #19
    BrunOfOne's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    Yeah, the only reason I can imagine for calling you is just to verify what Phil has told everyone. The months of broken promises have made people skeptical. If anyone DOES call you, the conversation should go "Hey I bought a Hollywood, do you actually have them for plating?" "Yup" "OK thanks bye", and that's it. Any other questions/concerns should go to Phil
    GAS-free since Feb 2011

  20. #20
    MusicalCharities's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life in a ONE person shop!

    Quote Originally Posted by BrunOfOne View Post
    Yeah, the only reason I can imagine for calling you is just to verify what Phil has told everyone. The months of broken promises have made people skeptical. If anyone DOES call you, the conversation should go "Hey I bought a Hollywood, do you actually have them for plating?" "Yup" "OK thanks bye", and that's it. Any other questions/concerns should go to Phil
    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Frazier View Post
    I don't have problem with people knowing. I feel people need to be more considerate.
    I am really sorry if people were rude to you , Doc. I know that I personally only wanted to verify things once and for all as to what was going on, because again, apparently at least one person from the stolen batch had been told that they were already being plated more than 3 weeks ago, while others were told that they would be plated in the upcoming weeks. All I wanted to personally know was what the truth was about the status.

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