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What is it with wheel builders?

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What is it with wheel builders?

Old 09-12-11, 11:32 AM
  #76  
zigmeister
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Boyd? November? Both of them are very responsive...you won't hear any complaints out of my mouth ever about Boyd...top notch customer service Boyd and Nicole :thumbsup:
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Old 09-12-11, 01:29 PM
  #77  
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i've said it before and i'll say it again Rob (psimet) needs to jack his prices up considerably. The reputation is there and yes he may lose some customers that get priced out but he would be better able to service the ones that are willing to pay and put more money in his pocket. it can be hard trying to run a business doing something you love to do because you often wish you could do it for free but when it's about paying the bills you gotta make business decisions in your best interest.
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Old 09-12-11, 02:13 PM
  #78  
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Originally Posted by jdon View Post
Back off the BF koolaid. I am sure psimet is a fine wheelbuilder but there is no shortage of excellent wheelbuilders. All of whom are every bit as good, some not as good and some better. You don't have to be a big name or a big name on BF to be great.
+1
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Old 09-12-11, 03:04 PM
  #79  
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Originally Posted by urbanknight View Post
Perhaps, but it seems most well-known builders have a back log much longer than it takes to decide on components (which should be a week or less in most cases). Custom wheels, custom frames, and wedding dresses all seem to have an unacceptably long back log, and it wouldn't be hard to fix... if the company wanted to.
The problem with custom, hand-crafted products built by a "name" is that it just doesn't scale. The person whose name is on every unit can't work but so many hours. This is why top frame builders have backlogs of months or even years. So to fix it, you can either hire additional labor to increase the scale of production, or you can raise the prices until demand drops to the level you can supply.

The first option devalues the product if there's any perception that the 'name' is no longer performing the skilled labor on every single piece. The second option prices the people who gave you your reputation right out of the market. Either way, it's just managing supply and demand.
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Old 09-12-11, 06:03 PM
  #80  
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Halfspeed's point is a great one. There's no magic in wheelbuilding, I think anyone with can do it passably, and many people with certain character traits can become quite good at it. The difficulty is in dependably turning out good wheels time and time again. We kissed A LOT of frogs in settling on the wheelbuilding team we now have - it doesn't take long to figure out who's capable of turning out a wheel that you'll be happy having anyone in the world identify as your company's work. But really all it takes is diligence and practice, it's a bit overblown to call it artistry (okay it's a lot overblown). The underlying problem is one you see all the time - for example, say a tile company does a great job and wins a lot of work through their past performance. Now they can either bring in guys who haven't yet proven they work in that setting (no pun intended for people who know about tile), or scramble like mad to stay in front of the 8 ball, or disappoint a lot of people who want to work with them but can't, or they just raise their price to match the new demand. Given the general market resistance to the latter, none of the options is particularly easy for the people running the business. Growing a craft-based operation where tight qc is paramount isn't simple. You can't scale on demand.

When you build wheels for someone, their safety is in your hands. There are a lot of other factors that go on, of course, but it's fairly serious and concentration intensive work. Many people find it meditative, and I have felt that at times. There's also a good empathy that you develop with the materials you work with. At times it's really fun, and at times it's an f-ing stack of work that you have to get out because people are anxious to get their wheels, but the wheel can't know the difference. It's either right or it's not.

The logistics can be really daunting, too. You have a bunch of rim materials, depths, and drillings. You have different hubs, and different spokes and different nipples. Just keeping ourselves stocked up with the various spoke lengths we use most often means a regular order of $1000+. It's just plain too expensive to stock really deep on hubs or rims - there are so many combinations of hub/rim/spoke (and colors for each) that it's just not feasible for most builders to keep too many of any in stock. We try to offer as many wheel types as we can that will perfectly suit a broad swathe of the market, but even still there is always the desire for something different, and there are people who are bigger or smaller than most of the people under the bell curve, and they have different needs. You really want to match each wheel as closely as you can to the rider and his/her intended use and desires, and that means complicated logistics. Just taking one type of rim, in the standard 20-24-28-32 hole drillings, with matching hubs and spokes and nipples, yields about 25 different SKU's. Then add colors. Then add clinchers v tubulars, then add different rim depths, then add different lacings - you quickly get to a point where logisitics could easily define you. Overcoming those logistics either takes an excess of money (for crazy inventory - for which the customer must inevitably pay), or some time in obtaining everything once the parts are finalized, or giving up choice and going with a standard offering.

Another challenge that faces wheelbuilders is labor allocation. If you run a shop, and you have guys sitting there anyway, they might as well be building wheels if they aren't doing anything else. You could allocate their time to overhead and get your wheels built "for free." I don't think any of the smaller wheelbuilders who are often mentioned on the forum fall into that camp, which means that we are likely all allocating labor cost per wheelset - we aren't building on idle, otherwise-paid-for time. That can make our wheelsets seem expensive in accounting terms, which I'm sure at some point translates out to the market, even though I think all of the wheelbuilders covered by this blanket seem to be really on top of controlling customer costs. The big difference, of course, is that the wheelbuilders I'm thinking of all have reputations specifically tied to their wheel products, and in most cases our customers are more informed and vocal (how many wheel threads per day on this forum?) about what they're getting than probably the general wheel buying public. A shop sends a bad wheel out there, eh no biggie probably no one ever hears about it. One of us sends a stinker out there and there's what, like, a 100% chance that the world will know. Not saying it doesn't happen, but when it does it reverberates, and it's rare (to the point that I can't remember an instance of it - except for one guy who no longer seems to be in the business) to hear of any of the small wheelbuilders not bending over backward to rectify any errors. Mike and I make a habit of publicizing our foul ups - because people are going to know anyway and therefore we may as well be the ones to break it to them.

I don't get the impression that anyone covered by the sort of milieu of this forum could be considered to be anything like the wheelbuilding equivalent of the Soup Nazi. We all get overwhelmed, but I think everyone's in it because they enjoy it and want to provide a really great product. This year, I've seen wheels that I've built pictured on Cyclingnews.com, racing in UCI races, and that's cool as all get out (we sort of get that one for free because a friend of mine is a total super badass), but the unsolicited email that randomly pops up in your inbox and says "I just want you to know how much I really love riding on the wheels you built me" 3 months after you delivered those wheels probably speaks a lot more closely to what motivates most of us.
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Old 09-12-11, 07:44 PM
  #81  
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Call Boyd you usually get him right on his cell phone, Pretty sure when he starts making the big bucks his customer service will go down the toilet.
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Old 09-12-11, 09:48 PM
  #82  
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Originally Posted by halfspeed View Post
The problem with custom, hand-crafted products built by a "name" is that it just doesn't scale. The person whose name is on every unit can't work but so many hours. This is why top frame builders have backlogs of months or even years. So to fix it, you can either hire additional labor to increase the scale of production, or you can raise the prices until demand drops to the level you can supply.

The first option devalues the product if there's any perception that the 'name' is no longer performing the skilled labor on every single piece. The second option prices the people who gave you your reputation right out of the market. Either way, it's just managing supply and demand.
Good point. I figured someone could hire someone to do the spoke prepping and initial lacing, probably stress relieving too. Up and coming wheel builders could also hire someone to do the book keeping, shipping, order processing, and inventory control. But once all that is done, you're absolutely right that you then reach a limit to where you can actually say the wheels are built by a certain person.

I'm reminded of the first time someone explained to me how there can be 50 "originals" of a famous painter's painting. The painter usually draws the outline, then grunts color in the inside. Kind of soured me on ever wanting a numbered "original".
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Old 09-15-11, 01:26 PM
  #83  
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Greetings,

I apologize for my spotty communication. Iv been a bit more than swamped this season and my wrench hasn't left my hands. It would seem also like a few of my customers do not receive my emails due to spam filters. If you are having an issue getting a reply from us we do have our own forums that we check every morning. This is not me attempting to make excuses for my poor communication, I just figured I should give you a heads up.

Regards,
Pat

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Old 09-22-11, 09:58 AM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by DScott View Post
PSIMET and some guy, no doubt one of his cross buddies based on the pic:



And you wonder why it takes so long to get back to you?
Ahh, Psimet and his phat stacks of cash.

That picture is kind of close to the claustrophobic wheelbuilding wonderland that has become his shop.
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Old 09-22-11, 09:02 PM
  #85  
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too funny. later.
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