mined from this thread -

we set this place up so that builders could chat with builders and folks who
were interested in the thread(s) could also jump in and add some flavor (but
not steer the conversation off course). now that we've all prepped for, done,
and counted our money from nahbs, i thought i'd start a thread about this very
board. we have some several dozen professional builders who are signed in to
create threads, and legions of others who can read and post.

how can this board best serve your frame-ish needs atmo?

>>> i'm not sure..........honestly, not to sound elitist, but i'm not into telling people where to buy
>>> flux and silver vs. brass threads. what's left? bulk material purchases? insurance co-op? i
>>> hate to use the word but this would start sounding like things associated with a "guild".

eh i dunno - i'll tell folks anything and share almost any resource atmo.
i type quick, keep it brief, and get back to my pinball machine. all the
posts in the world can line up, but folks still gotta do their own work.
and - if it gets too repetitive or contentious, i'll make mention of the
search engine atmo. later - must start drinking now.

>>> Speaking of business, do the independent framebuilders prefer to run the whole show
>>> from end-to-end or would some prefer to just build and leave the business/selling/
>>> marketing side to someone else?
>>> Is the most enjoyable part the actual building, or perhaps the satisfaction a builder gets
>>> working with individual customers and incorporating different ideas (ie. planning/
or perhaps just seeing their bikes being ridden/raced?

i'm a loner and over the years have controlled everything. it's only in recent
times that i have conceded a project or two (as in, a print ad or similar) to
someone else. once a control freak, etcetera. and in most cases, ideas and
concepts percolate for months, even years, before they become reality. some
examples would include logo revisions, ways to run the teams, and terms of
business. at the end of the day, the framebuilding process is the easy part,
but finding ways to promote and sustain the business eventually became part
of the routine. at this point in my life, it's the sum total that gives me the
pleasure. i do consider all of it to be part of the creative process, not just
the time spent at the bench atmo.

>>> You could even pose questions to your customers about what they enjoyed about their
>>> experiences with the builders. That'd seem like good business for the builders.

that's true, but the general discussion boards usually have those
topics. that subject has some dot.com overlap issues and i'd rather
see more impersonal stuff talked about. the relationship between a
maker and a client is one that should be respected, and calling
them out, here, may cross lines atmo. no matter. we want more
builders talking with builders, and if it happens that clients chime
in about stuff, we'll see where it leads. thanks atmo.

>>> I'd love to see that discussed here and be a part of it if it came to fruition. I'm building
>>> frame number three and have an eye toward, perhaps, hanging out a shingle at some
>>> point. (Yes, I know three frames does not a competent frame builder make. I'm talking
>>> distant future here folks
>>> Presently, I make my living as an electrical contractor, actor and musician. My contractor's
>>> business liability here in North Carolina is less than $800 a year.
>>> Seems inequitable that I'd need to pay upwards of $1,500 or more to build a handful of
>>> frames per year for commerce.
>>> I feel that a co-op would be a godsend for those of us who might like to build at more than
>>> the hobby level, but not as a full-time occupation like our artisan friends here.
>>> What say ye?

i might be in the minority here (and there) but i'd rather see you make the
commitment and join "us" rather than find ways to appropriate some of the
professional needs of our trade and filter them out to those who are treating
it like a craft (note: that's me generalizing atmo). unlike some other handmade
goods that serve, shall we say, more decorative elements, a bicycle is a vehicle.
while no one has established minimum standards for framebuilders, having a
policy is one way to show a modicum of responsibility. i am fully aware that
some don't have the cabbage, and others think they make too few to matter,
and others say theirs never fail, and we also have the cat who simply doesn't
want to play ball with the man. no matter how you couch it, making a bicycle
that someone else will ride comes with a price. i can't see how the insurance
industry can come down any lower than $1500 per annum, and i don't even
think they should. there are not many full time pros and even fewer
hobbyists. no matter how many frames one makes, atmo the cost of entry at
$1500 a year for product liability seems reasonable. one can always elect to
fly naked and take the chances. i alienate many when i articulate all this, but
am committed to seeing the trade in a positive light. to me, insurance is part
of that equation atmo.

>>>I think Bill's point was that an electrical contractor pays ~$800 a year, and faulty
>>> electrical work can cause injury and death about as easily as can faulty frame building.

if there was as many framebuilders in the states as there were
electricians in my county, i am sure the rates would be spread
out further and hence lowered atmo.

>>> It would seem that lower insurance rates would be beneficial to all builders, unless
>>> perhaps established builders view such costs as a barrier to entry for potential competitors.

nah. i can't fathom that any professional (or anyone at all, for that matter) would feel that way.

>>> A larger number of builders should only cause the rate to go down if increasing the
>>> number of frame builders decreases the per-builder insurance pay-outs. I guess that
>>> would be true if either the additional frame builders did not proportionately increase
>>> the number of frames built, or they increased the average skill of the builders and so
>>> that the per-builder risk decreased. Perhaps there's effectively a surcharge because of
>>> additional risk due to the insurers' inexperience in the industry, but it seems to me that
>>> there's little difference from a liability standpoint between frame building and general
>>> metal fabrication. I haven't priced it, so perhaps metal fabricators also pay 75% higher
>>> insurance rates than do electrical contractors.

atmo if/when we are classified as welders, the premium is reasonable (or i
should say, others might consider it reasonable) but the cavaet is that the
liability extends to the frame. if/when it is altered in any way (as in, assembled
into a bicycle) all bets are off. i spent about 10 years in this grid and i was
warned against selling bicycles (as opposed to frames). atmo it simply is not
worth the anxiety involved because whatever we are assessed, there will
be those who say it's too much and it supports that barrier of entry POV that
you mentioned. it's a business, there are many ways to amortize the premium
over a 12 month period, and cats do it all the time. sometimes i wonder what
folks (not you harry) would pay if it were a donation amount to keep the wolves
away from the door, so to speak. insurance isn't for us, it's for the fellow who,
god forbid, may have lunch served through an IV tube. atmo in the big picture,
a grand or so (for liability) is chump change. and the ones who have their
agents combine policies with theft, homeowners, fire, and others can further
reduce that premium by having the local agent gang up all the categories.

>>> The fixed costs of a one-man factory do not lend themselves to much cost cutting or
>>> layoffs. While it may not be sustainable and it certainly affects other framebuilders, its
>>> not that crazy.

when things were slow-to-a-halt-like slow here i conceived my Strada Immaculata
frame line. i offered them through my dealer network, sold almost 40, and the project
resulted in increased sales and appreciation for my Signature frames atmo. it was a
true learning experience for me, and humbling as well.

>>> $1200 is not too little for a custom frame, in the least.
>>> Some builders may only be able to crank out 2-3 frames a week, but I know plenty of
>>> folks(and they are the ones with the $1200 frames) who easily build 2-3 frames a day.

agreed 100% but atmo the OP's point was about someone who is in the
2-3 frames a week category, not the other. therein lies his concern.

>>> No one man shop custom builder is building 2-3 bikes a day, unless they're pre-sized
>>> bikes. Interacting with the customer takes as long or longer than building the bike.

i learned long ago that you can be wholesale or you can be retail
but you can't be both, especially if you are making something by
hand and rarely are two items the same. and atmo in this business
no two clients are the same.

ps somehow the grammar at the end of that there first sentence
leaves me cold, but i hope you get the spirit of my point.