Shop Update 3/12 to 3/30 MR & Custom 416 and 416C barrels off to Nitride, Cutting Back on Emails, PSG Builds Starting, Wrapping up CA Firearm Work
Wanted to start off by saying Thank You to all the guys that sent me messages of support while I was ill starting late last summer and lasting most of the winter. For those that don’t know I have an adrenal tumor that was in a bit of a runaway state, overproducing adrenaline. It made working long hours in the shop easier as I pretty much never got tired, but unfortunately threw my stress hormones so far off that it kicked in an auto immune response. Basically my system tried to fight a flu that it didn’t have for 6 months, so I spent those 6 months running fevers, vomiting, running super high blood pressure, and just feeling ill in general. I didn’t miss a day of work due to the illness alone, but did have to be out a couple times a week dealing with local Drs that incorrectly diagnosed me multiple times, including one that told me I had Lupus and was even trying to treat me with chemotherapy. Fortunately I got into a good Endocrinologist in December that got me started on the path to getting well and followed that up with a week of additional diagnosis at the Mayo Clinic in Jan. Those visits got the problem sorted and I am feeling better than I have in a long time. It took awhile to completely shut down the auto immune responses I was going through, but I believe those are mostly resolved now as I haven’t had the flu like symptoms in about 3 weeks now. I think this was a problem that possibly started kinda slow in 2016 as I had several weeks of unexplained illness off and on that year and reached it’s worse last Labor Day when I discovered my blood pressure was running 215/110. At that point I realized I could no longer put off going into the Drs office to see what was wrong.
Some guys also know I got frivolously sued early last year for following advice given to me by my local ATF branch for not shipping an SBR that was registered with the NFA in UT to California. That ate up a lot of time for a good 10 months. Your average person would assume something like that would immediately be thrown out by a judge, but ask anyone that’s ever had a run through the system and they’ll tell you that’s not how our court’s work. The case finally did get thrown out in October of last year. That suit ate up a ton of shop time as I had to contact all branches involved such as the ATF, NFA, and CA DOJ for information that related to CA and SBRs and then relay that to my attorney so he could file it with the court etc.
Between those two items I missed a lot of work time in the last year, but I have found the thing that has been eating up the majority of my time the last couple years is answering emails. I start every morning about 7AM and on average the last six weeks I have not been able to get off the computer and actually started on shop work until 2PM, that means that I put in a 12 hour day to only get 5 hours of production. There was a large surge in emails the couple weeks that followed the FL school shooting in February and ended up causing delays in finishing all the projects I was trying to get to in Feb, anti-gun stories that stay in the news will generally get a lot of guys pontificating a firearm build and they often need a lot of information on how to proceed. However probably out of every 10 guys that contact me after an event like that only 1 will actually follow through with a build, but I don’t know who is serious and who isn’t so I provide information to everyone, which ends up costing me quite a bit of time.
Events that end up eating up a bunch of time doing emails, also throw off my turn around time estimates that I have given customers, I cant predict when an event will happen that will keep me from getting full days in the shop for weeks. That ends up in compounded delays as well for the longer term projects such as the PSG/MSG conversions that I have been trying to get started for a year.
The reason some items like PSG/MSG conversions are longer term is because I don’t get many of them to do on average, especially when compared to MRs and SP5Ks right now. For the most part I’ll get twice as many MRs in a month than I get PSG/MSGs in a year.
So I have to give the MRs priority, that allows me to service the largest amount of customers in a given amount of time, and also prevents firearms from stacking up in the shop. The more firearms in the shop the more emails I get every morning as customers often want updates. I got audited by the ATF around this time last year and at that time I had nearly 200 firearms in the shop. 200 customers is a lot of people for one person to communicate with at once. I have since raised my prices and worked pretty much every weekend, which got the number down to a more controllable amount, but didn’t really slow down emails much other than the extra updates that I was having to give for firearms that were in the shop.
This is my 19th year in business, for the first 17 years I never had to spend more than maybe 2 hours per day at the most on emails, but ever since the Dallas PD shooting I have been having to send well over 70 emails per day. Bear in mind there were other events immediately following that shooting such as Clinton possibly winning the election, other shootings, and who knows what else I’ve forgotten about. Even when there haven’t been any events I still get a lot of questions every day. Some are quick replies, but I do try to provide as much information as I can and that can often take quite awhile. I’ll also admit that I can be a bit long winded and over descriptive like this autoreply… Personally I don’t like short replies such as Yes or No, so I try to not send short replies.
To help reduce the amount of emails I get I have added order forms to the website for those requesting MR and SP5K work, and it has really made a difference. It has reduced the number of emails to discuss a project from about 10 back and forth emails to less than 3. I tried to include answers on the order forms to the most common questions asked about each of the services I offer for a given firearm and the forms also help clear up which options go together, and what is and is not included for each option. I’ll be adding order forms as time permits to the website for all the services I offer and I am also going to cut back to primarily only accepting work off the order forms. Reason being is the other thing I have noticed is the oddball smaller work requests I sometimes accept generally end up eating up more time on both the computer and in the shop than doing a full on build, they just don’t work out from a time or economic perspective. Also the order form saves me a lot of time as I don’t have to crawl through emails looking for the items that a customer has requested or possibly changed their mind about since the firearm got here.
Long story short here if I am ever going to get the work in the shop done I am going to have to limit my time on the computer answering emails to 2 hours per day. Which means quite a few emails are going to go unanswered every day. Adding the order forms and only working off of those will eliminate a lot of the emails I get so hopefully that means that not a lot of emails have to go unanswered. Also in general the answers to a lot of the emails looking for updates are in the updates already listed in this section of the website and my autoreply. I hate to leave emails unanswered, but guys send me their projects for me to work on them, not for us to send correspondence back and forth about their projects and as I’ve said before I cant work on the computer and firearms at the same time.
Regarding those updates.
The MRs and 416 barrels I did for customers are going off to nitride this week. A couple people couldn’t get their uppers to me until the 12th, but I spent all weekend prior on the CNC machine getting everything else ready and it is setup to run those last couple so it wont take me long to have them ready to ship out. That will hopefully get them back from nitride the week of the 19th. I had originally wanted to send off the 416 barrels before I went to the Mayo Clinic, but I held off and MRs started to come in at a rapid pace in February, I am assuming someone got a small amount of new MR rifles back in stock. Requests for MR work are still coming in pretty quick, but I figure they will have to wait until the next round as I need to get the ones that have been waiting for 6 weeks or so out.
While they are gone I’ll be doing the refinishing and restamping on those that requested those options as well as sending out totals and collecting payments. I send the messages for payments while they are gone so when they return I can go directly to shipping them. If I wait until they get back it would take me 1 to 2 whole days to email everyone and would just delay getting them headed back to their owners.
The weather in February was miserable for refinish work, basically cold and wet. I have a climate controlled area which can generally allow me to refinish if it is cold or wet, but the combo often causes the paint to absorb moisture out of the air after it is sprayed, which will cause flat spots in the paint and results in the part having to be refinished again, which is a waste of time. The weather finally cleared up last week and I worked all week painting and shipping the firearms that got held up because of the weather, I have 4 left to ship which will go out this week after the MRs are shipped.
I am finally starting the PSG/MSG builds that have been waiting for quite awhile now. Guys like the sniper rifles, but they don’t request a ton of builds for them, so there aren’t that many to get to. I’ll be doing one per week as they pretty much have to be built piece by piece, they’ll be built alongside the CA firearms that are still here that I will also be working on getting out this month as they have a cutoff date coming up.
Once those are finished I’ll be getting to the Hk builds from flats, hoping to start those in April. Then at some point I’ll be working in the handful of Galils and FALs that are here.
That’s pretty much all the information I have right now. For those that send me an email and don’t get a reply sit tight I will eventually get back with you. Understand the only reason I am not replying is that I am trying to get to work so I can actually get your project done instead of just emailing you about it.