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 elses 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!