By David Buchsbaum [David's Sandbox], Beacon Custom Woodwork, July 3rd, 2018

Well the last four years have been challenging to say the least. To get caught up as quickly as possible, in early 2014 we moved into a 6,000 sq ft space and purchased a large CNC machine to grow our custom closet business. In short, business has continued to increase and we have a growing base of happy customers for both our retail closet installations and our wholesale closet parts.

Spacious walk in closet with angled ceilings, a long center island and a window

Designing, manufacturing and installing custom closet systems like this one has been the main focus of our business for the past several years

However I have not found it easy to keep up. We immediately ran into problems with the fancy new CNC machine, along with almost everything else that I purchased. And unfortunately while I have been lucky enough to have a couple of good long-term employees, I have not been able to build a capable team to help us scale or even to keep up with the daily workload effectively. Along the way I’ve learned a lot about working with people and running a business that I wish I had known 30 years ago when I was just getting started. I’ve also learned a lot about myself, what I’m good at and not so good at, and what I like to do and don’t like to do.

Stack of wrapped parts on a large pallet getting ready to be shipped out

Wholesale customers, including contractors and other closet companies, have become a sizable part of our revenue

And so I’ve come up with a plan. I’ve decided to close my shop and team up with two other local businesses to serve both our residential and wholesale customers. One is a former competitor who is handling all our retail leads (in exchange for a small percentage of whatever they sell). The other local company, with whom we will be partnering on the wholesale closet business, is another manufacturer who has a very substantial production facility but has been lacking a coherent order entry system or any way to price out a lot of small jobs efficiently.  The online catalog/order entry/customer management system that I’ve been building fits the bill perfectly.  Combining our customer base and ordering system with their production capacity will enable us to grow together – and the best part is that I can work from home, without the headaches or overhead of maintaining my own production facility.

Panoramic view of Atlanta Closet & Storage Solutions production facility

Overall view of our production facility with the large CNC in the foreground and the ShopBot in the center

I’m excited to be making this huge transition, but a little nervous about the next step, which is to sell all our equipment and get the space cleared out. After some consideration I’ve decided to use an online auction service to liquidate everything at once. Here is the sale info (bidding ends July 20 2018). Highlights include our big throughfeed router, two edgebanders (one for curves!), forklift, scissor lift, and plenty of router bits, hand power tools, storage cabinets and displays, office furniture and cabinetry, and much more!  And yes, I am selling my ShopBot.  It’s a pretty big deal after owning a CNC machine (or two) for almost 19 years.

Several dozen pieces, parts and projects of various nature, all custom designed and cut with a ShopBot CNC machine

Family reunion: a few examples of the hundreds of projects completed on my ShopBot over the last two decades

I know I’m going to get asked 1,000 times why would I ever want to sell the ShopBot? It’s been a huge part of what I am and what I’ve been capable of, not to mention one of the primary tools I’ve been using to earn a living, for almost 20 years. Well, it’s complicated, but essentially, I’m ready to no longer be the person that runs the machine. Or that even employs the person who runs the machine. I’m ready for a simpler, less stressful stage of my life where my income is not tied to how many hours I have available to work in the shop, or to being able to keep a bunch of other people productive and out of trouble.

      In a nutshell, here are the  Top 10 reasons to sell the ShopBot too

10.  It’s a good time to be selling good used equipment. Adding the ShopBot to the auction increases the overall interest in the auction and may lead to increased activity on the other items.

9.  Combining the additional auction income with saving the time and cost of moving the ShopBot to the house and setting it back up, I would have to bid and execute a lot of work just to repay the initial cost of keeping the machine

8. We may be selling the house in the next year or two and the machine would have to be sold or moved again

7.  I can still sell profitable work and have other shops cut it

6.  I know at least 6 other businesses that own CNC machines that I can call on to cut whatever I might need

5.  Selling the machine will force me to be serious about moving on to the next phase of my life

4.  I need to concentrate on less physical ways to earn money, preferably some that earn residuals

3.  I want to spend more hobby time with my wife and less time in the shop

2.  I won’t miss the noise or the dust

1.  It’s only a 4×8

My first ShopBot selfie!

Memories of my ShopBot will always bring a smile to my face. It’s been about the most reliable piece of machinery in the shop.

You might notice there are no traditional woodworking power tools in the auction. I still have all of my personal tools and basic woodworking equipment at the home shop, so other than not having my own CNC (at least for a while) my capabilities have not diminished, but my motivations and desires have changed.

So will this be my last column? Maybe and maybe not. I still have plenty of photos of projects I’ve cut that I haven’t written about yet, and just because I have a plan doesn’t mean it will work out exactly as expected. It rarely does.

July 3rd, 2018 | Tags: | Category: ShopBot, ShopBot User Stories

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