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Bridge City Tool Works For the past twenty-five years we have been producing innovative and impeccably crafted heirloom tools for serious woodworkers and collectors worldwide. Made in America, all of our tools are produced in limited numbers and with minimal care should continue to inspire your children's children. I believe the look, feel and accuracy of each Bridge City tool will always influence you to do your best work. Quality is contagious. Regards, John Economaki President & Founder

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  #41 (permalink)  
Old 07-01-2009, 12:33 AM
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Default Re: New Mystery Tool from Bridge City

Dear Festoolers;

Thought I would wade in here and shed some light regarding those that are befuddled with our business model--at times I am not sure I get it either...

We design and develop a product line that caters to those who understand the value of accuracy, inspiration and the impact it has on their work. It is, unfortunately, a small niche market. You folks must know that you are a small subset of the woodworking community simply because of the prices that Festools command. Our market is smaller yet. Nobody needs what we make.

When we introduce a new tool, we solicit as many pre-orders as possible and we green light the run--usually with a small percentage overrun. There is no way to fund the inventory, particularly in today's climate. (We have been hanging around for 25 years now--that is not an easy thing to do.)

For example, we have suppliers who have lost their operating line and now are, out of necessity/survival asking us for deposits when we are used to terms. It makes inventory management crucial. And it is not going to change soon.

Now don't bite my head off here, but I am going to unleash a generalization that is more true than not--woodworkers, for whatever reason, often times don't grasp the fundamentals of business, and what it takes to stay in business. It is the one reason why it is so difficult to make money as a woodworker--some goofball shows up in your town, hangs a shingle and thinks he is making money when he sells product for the cost of materials. It is a never-ending revolving door of well-meaning ignorance that suppresses the prices you need to charge to make a living wage. The only way that I know how to make money as a woodworker is to develop a unique voice, and Roger Savatteri is a great example--pick his brain if you get the chance.

Remember all the moaning and complaining (some of it was just mean spirited) about the $1200 price of the Jointmaker Pro? Our initial production run (sold out) was 300 units. The prototype that Roger worked on cost us $25,000 and there were three versions--in short, the R&D of the tool in hard cash was a smidgen over $300K. We will NEVER get this money back--and I have looming over our head another 100K in potential patent fees. We will only make money on this tool when it is made out of plastic--sad to say. We are so far underwater on this tool that it impacts everything we do. And I would do it again in a heartbeat--I have never claimed to be smart!

Regarding the dealer with the display--I don't believe we have made a display in 15-20 years--and we have never cut off a dealer. The truth is we were never able to supply them--furthermore, the displays we did make were for looks only, the tools were worthless and they were screwed to a backer board. We charged for making the display but not the product displayed--hope this helps.

Lastly, regarding useage--if you take our products (most anyway) and just look at the obvious function of the device you are missing the point. And probably the best way to describe what we do is with an analogy--

Let's say you are asked build a bookshelf for a customer. All a bookshelf really needs to do is hold books. Why then don't you deliver to your customer a cinderblock and 2 x 12 bookshelf? One has to recognize then that there is another dynamic to a bookshelf and the same is true of our tools. I can't help myself, I use tools as a palette to express myself. That $2500 shoulder plane is a steal if you go to a gallery and see what people pay for a photograph. It is all relative and it is not just about making shavings. Bridge City has never been about making money, we want to be remembered and not many companies get that opportunity.

FYI, the last survey that we took indicated that roughly half of our sales are to active woodworkers and the other half buy our tools for the inspiration. There is nothing wrong with either approach and we are grateful.

Sorry if I rambled, I hope this helps shed some light on our mysterious ways.

Warm regards,

John Economaki
Head Custodian
BCTW
john@bridgecitytools.com

PS: Please don't be offended if I don't follow this thread. I am really fatigued with the internet, what it is doing to all my friends in the magazine business and the garbage. Your forum is truly an exception--please stay positive.
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  #42 (permalink)  
Old 07-01-2009, 12:46 AM
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Default Re: New Mystery Tool from Bridge City

John,

Thanks for chiming in. I've read this thread with interest but didn't comment previous to this. While I don't own any of your company's tools I do understand the stance you've taken and the business model that you've chosen to pursue. I'm sure you understand the frustration of some when they want to buy one of your products and it is not available. If there are people here, on a Festool forum, griping about pricing then.....I don't know what to say to that. For me Festool has been a great investment. The results the tools provide are top notch and the resale value is unmatched in the market of power tools. I would imagine that the same can be said for your line of tools. It's just a matter of ponying up the cash the first time. I wish you the best in the years ahead.
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  #43 (permalink)  
Old 07-01-2009, 01:14 AM
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Default Re: New Mystery Tool from Bridge City

Quote:
Originally Posted by Economaki View Post
Dear Festoolers;

Thought I would wade in here and shed some light regarding those that are befuddled with our business model--at times I am not sure I get it either...

We design and develop a product line that caters to those who understand the value of accuracy, inspiration and the impact it has on their work. It is, unfortunately, a small niche market. You folks must know that you are a small subset of the woodworking community simply because of the prices that Festools command. Our market is smaller yet. Nobody needs what we make.

When we introduce a new tool, we solicit as many pre-orders as possible and we green light the run--usually with a small percentage overrun. There is no way to fund the inventory, particularly in today's climate. (We have been hanging around for 25 years now--that is not an easy thing to do.)

For example, we have suppliers who have lost their operating line and now are, out of necessity/survival asking us for deposits when we are used to terms. It makes inventory management crucial. And it is not going to change soon.

Now don't bite my head off here, but I am going to unleash a generalization that is more true than not--woodworkers, for whatever reason, often times don't grasp the fundamentals of business, and what it takes to stay in business. It is the one reason why it is so difficult to make money as a woodworker--some goofball shows up in your town, hangs a shingle and thinks he is making money when he sells product for the cost of materials. It is a never-ending revolving door of well-meaning ignorance that suppresses the prices you need to charge to make a living wage. The only way that I know how to make money as a woodworker is to develop a unique voice, and Roger Savatteri is a great example--pick his brain if you get the chance.

Remember all the moaning and complaining (some of it was just mean spirited) about the $1200 price of the Jointmaker Pro? Our initial production run (sold out) was 300 units. The prototype that Roger worked on cost us $25,000 and there were three versions--in short, the R&D of the tool in hard cash was a smidgen over $300K. We will NEVER get this money back--and I have looming over our head another 100K in potential patent fees. We will only make money on this tool when it is made out of plastic--sad to say. We are so far underwater on this tool that it impacts everything we do. And I would do it again in a heartbeat--I have never claimed to be smart!

Regarding the dealer with the display--I don't believe we have made a display in 15-20 years--and we have never cut off a dealer. The truth is we were never able to supply them--furthermore, the displays we did make were for looks only, the tools were worthless and they were screwed to a backer board. We charged for making the display but not the product displayed--hope this helps.

Lastly, regarding useage--if you take our products (most anyway) and just look at the obvious function of the device you are missing the point. And probably the best way to describe what we do is with an analogy--

Let's say you are asked build a bookshelf for a customer. All a bookshelf really needs to do is hold books. Why then don't you deliver to your customer a cinderblock and 2 x 12 bookshelf? One has to recognize then that there is another dynamic to a bookshelf and the same is true of our tools. I can't help myself, I use tools as a palette to express myself. That $2500 shoulder plane is a steal if you go to a gallery and see what people pay for a photograph. It is all relative and it is not just about making shavings. Bridge City has never been about making money, we want to be remembered and not many companies get that opportunity.

FYI, the last survey that we took indicated that roughly half of our sales are to active woodworkers and the other half buy our tools for the inspiration. There is nothing wrong with either approach and we are grateful.

Sorry if I rambled, I hope this helps shed some light on our mysterious ways.

Warm regards,

John Economaki
Head Custodian
BCTW
john@bridgecitytools.com

PS: Please don't be offended if I don't follow this thread. I am really fatigued with the internet, what it is doing to all my friends in the magazine business and the garbage. Your forum is truly an exception--please stay positive.
John,

Thank you very much for jumping in and for explaining something you quite obviously did not need to. Now, if you actually knew what you where speaking about that would be different. I have recently had the fortune/misfortune of purchasing many of your tools mostly due to the evil twists of one Peter Franks. I as most everyone else on this board are huge proponents of well made, beautiful tools. Bridge City certainly is one of the leaders when it comes to first rate tools and service. I had the pleasure of working with Natasha at your company today and as always she handled my issue with speed and grace.

Now having said all of this and as well as welcoming you to the board I would just like you to know that I am NOT above bribery and if you would care to send me a VP-60 and a gross of the KerfWOW's I would be okay with that.

Fred
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  #44 (permalink)  
Old 07-01-2009, 02:13 AM
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Default Re: New Mystery Tool from Bridge City

John,
Welcome to the forum & thanks for addressing questions about your business model.
For all businesses inventory is a nasty, evil word, especially if it's finished goods inventory which represents all of the costs associated with that particular product sitting on a warehouse shelf not making money. For many things we buy we have come to expect "same day" shipping however I don't believe your products fall into that category.
As you described, you are in a small niche market catering to woodworkers that have an appreciation for fine tools. This forum is made up of those types of individuals. Just as many of us are patiently waiting for our DJ-1 drill jigs, I believe most people that appreciate your quality tools would patiently wait for any of the catalog items if they were made available again, even if some were at higher prices & had a lead time.

I could better understand your problem with the Jointmaker Pro if for example, you were only able to sell half of the initial production run but since it was a "sell out" and being a quantum leap, total departure from normal woodworking wouldn't it be better to sell additional pre-orders for it and perhaps many of the other out of production tools? As you are painfully aware all of the fine BCT products involve extensive engineering, R&D and production tooling costs. The only way to recover those costs (and make a profit) is over time through multiple production runs. You have a loyal niche market that wants your tools, even if it takes some of us awhile to save for the more expensive items (outside of our monthly disposable income).

I see that you are now accepting pre-orders for the KM-1 Kerfmaker so I better get over there & order mine.

Thanks for your GREAT American made tools.

Last edited by RONWEN; 07-01-2009 at 04:31 PM.
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  #45 (permalink)  
Old 07-01-2009, 02:44 AM
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Default Re: New Mystery Tool from Bridge City

Quote:
Originally Posted by RONWEN View Post
John,
Welcome to the forum & thanks for addressing questions about your business model.
For all businesses inventory is a nasty, evil word, especially if it's finished goods inventory which represents all of the costs associated with that particular product sitting on a warehouse shelf not making money. For many things we buy we have come to expect "same day" shipping however I don't believe your products fall into that category.
As you described, you are in a small niche market catering to woodworkers that have an appreciation for fine tools. This forum is made up of those types of individuals. Just as many of us are patiently waiting for our DJ-1 drill jigs, I believe most people that appreciate your quality tools would patiently wait for any of the catalog items if they were made available again, even if some were at higher prices & had a lead time.

I could better understand your problem with the Jointmaker Pro if for example, you were only able to sell half of the initial production run but since it was a "sell out" and being a quantum leap, total departure from normal woodworking wouldn't it be better to sell pre-orders for it and perhaps many of the other out of production tools?

I see that you are now accepting pre-orders for the KM-1 Kerfmaker so I better get over there & order mine.

Thanks for your GREAT American made tools.
Ron,

Great post dude. I just went over and pre-ordered three of them thingamajiggers. I loved the video that John made of these little awesome tools. What I would give to have his mind.

Fred

PS Sorry to bug you but I wanted to see if you read my last pm to you?
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  #46 (permalink)  
Old 07-01-2009, 02:52 AM
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Default Re: New Mystery Tool from Bridge City

John - what a delight to see you here! Welcome! I'm the "pfranks" who's posted on your blog, and I will say again that I love the DSS-6! I've been using it all day today, and it just gives me such joy every time I pick it up. And when you amortize that joy over the lifetime of the tool versus its initial cost, it's mere pennies. I have a little more trouble with your $2500 shoulder plane (I have the HP-7), mainly because it would seem a shame to scratch up a thing of beauty that is in such short supply. Had you made 2000 of them, I might not have an issue with using it (even though the cost was the same). Somehow its rarity makes it more painful to contemplate using. Same with a Marcou, Holtey or Sauer and Steiner plane. Kind of like blowing your nose with a Picasso (which Fred assures me he does).

Regardless of your business model, you'll find a lot of kindred spirits here. People who recognize that price is not the only determinant of quality, and that quality is worth working for.

And please let me know if you need me to review any of your tools. But don't tell Rick (Christopherson) - he gets all uppity about these things.

Please continue to check in every now and then. We'd love to hear from you.
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  #47 (permalink)  
Old 07-01-2009, 03:52 AM
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Default Re: New Mystery Tool from Bridge City

John
That explanation was worthy of a frame.
I'm glad you felt like you could express your ideas here.
Feel free to drop in again. Coffee's always on.
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Old 07-01-2009, 03:54 AM
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Default Re: New Mystery Tool from Bridge City

I'm glad John mentioned buying a photograph in an art gallery. The BC Tools business model most closely resembles an artist selling a limited edition of prints. There are only going to be so many. If you miss out you just have to wait and see what comes next.
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:24 AM
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Default Re: New Mystery Tool from Bridge City

Quote:
Originally Posted by Economaki View Post
Dear Festoolers;

Thought I would wade in here and shed some light regarding those that are befuddled with our business model--at times I am not sure I get it either...

We design and develop a product line that caters to those who understand the value of accuracy, inspiration and the impact it has on their work. It is, unfortunately, a small niche market. You folks must know that you are a small subset of the woodworking community simply because of the prices that Festools command. Our market is smaller yet. Nobody needs what we make.

When we introduce a new tool, we solicit as many pre-orders as possible and we green light the run--usually with a small percentage overrun. There is no way to fund the inventory, particularly in today's climate. (We have been hanging around for 25 years now--that is not an easy thing to do.)


Remember all the moaning and complaining (some of it was just mean spirited) about the $1200 price of the Jointmaker Pro? Our initial production run (sold out) was 300 units. The prototype that Roger worked on cost us $25,000 and there were three versions--in short, the R&D of the tool in hard cash was a smidgen over $300K. We will NEVER get this money back--and I have looming over our head another 100K in potential patent fees. We will only make money on this tool when it is made out of plastic--sad to say. We are so far underwater on this tool that it impacts everything we do. And I would do it again in a heartbeat--I have never claimed to be smart!


Warm regards,

John Economaki
Head Custodian
BCTW
john@bridgecitytools.com

PS: Please don't be offended if I don't follow this thread. I am really fatigued with the internet, what it is doing to all my friends in the magazine business and the garbage. Your forum is truly an exception--please stay positive.
I still dont get it. I was not one to complain about the JointMakerPro price. I just didnt have enough time to set aside the funds to buy one. Now I dont know when they will be available again if ever. What is the point? What happens when some one needs replacement parts 5 years from now. Are you going to say, Too Bad, You should have bought 2 when you had the chance?

Why even bother with the patents if you dont continue making the tool anyway?

Dont you think if you kept on making the tool you would be able to recoup the tooling costs, R&D, and Patent fees and keep potential customers (the ones that dont have a large amount of disposable income but would be willing to save to be able to buy the tool) happy? You take the opportunity away, for the small time guy who doesnt make money hand over fist, to be able to buy your tools.

John, I love your tools and think very highly of you. Sorry if my post sounds a bit angry.


:stongue: :sdrool:
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Last edited by EijiFuller; 07-01-2009 at 04:30 AM.
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  #50 (permalink)  
Old 07-01-2009, 08:48 PM
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Default Re: New Mystery Tool from Bridge City

I'm with Eiji on this one! Or at the very least he could post an indication of the minimum number of tools to justify a production run and the number of orders in the queue. That way people would have a chance to make a decision on placing an order, or calling their friends to get in on the deal to push the required number "over the top"/ I suspect that John would rally to such a call! And better yet, you don't need electricity to use these tools!

All fun aside, this looks like a great little gizmo and I've placed an order, but I"m putting on my crampons to avoid another slippery slope.

Jay
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