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Old 01-12-2005, 19:09   #1 (permalink)
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Life change time

I've noticed others talk of going through major upheavals in their lives on here and just thought I share my own change in progress.

Over 25 years ago I started in business and have been manfacturing lighting ever since. There have been ups and downs but lately there have been mainly downs, so my business partner and I took the decision to cease trading before profit becomes impossible. The staff left today. We will be carrying on just to sell off the remaining items of machinery until the building is sold.

Why close? One word answer - China. Items we used to make a profit on are now sourced by our customers from China. Low value bulky items we could still sell but not at a sensible margin. Virtually without exception other manufacturers we have spoken to are in the same position. Many of them do not have the option to stop because of bank debts.
Our CNC machinery is proving very difficult to sell even at stupidly low prices.

To give an example - to buy cast aluminium components for one product in the UK cost 16 for a set. You then have to fettle them, paint them, add sheet metal parts, electrical assembly, glass etc etc. You can now buy the same (almost) finished product from a UK seller of imports for 16.

Ten years ago you could point to something from China and say "what a load of ****" but I have to admit the products are made to a good standard.

It is a stressful time now but I know my quality of life is set for a major improvement. Can't say I see a bright future for British manufacturing.
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Old 01-12-2005, 19:48   #2 (permalink)
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Sad to hear about the closure but pleased that it's a decision you were able to make.

We provide services to businesses and unfortunately we're hearing the same thing time and time again. Once thriving, profitable businesses are being squeezed on margin and are unable to pass on increasing costs. The latest energy price hikes have been the final straw for a couple we were working with.
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Old 01-12-2005, 19:58   #3 (permalink)
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Our paint plant (which also left today - but in skips) used a lot of gas. In the last 12 months the cost quadrupled. latest prediction was for it to double again. Electric bill was 6k higher this year than last.

Any icons featuring a straw and a camel?
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Old 01-12-2005, 20:06   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertP
Any icons featuring a straw and a camel?
No mate but I did nearly add one that signified flogging a dead horse.

I am really sorry to read of your situation.

What plans have you got for your own future now?
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Old 01-12-2005, 20:24   #5 (permalink)
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Must admit global markets are getting tougher. I was part of a project for Global Resourcing of people skills & the difference in people costs in some non european countries is frightening.

If you are financially secure then work life balance will be in better order ? I moved to a 4 day week a year ago with associated pay cut, but never looked back. Taking a year out now to help look after my 3 year daughter & to be honest I don't miss the money / flash cars that much. As long as we have roof over our heads & enough for some we are happy.

Hope everything works out OK for you & your family.

Last edited by Dave; 01-12-2005 at 20:28.
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Old 01-12-2005, 20:30   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertP
I've noticed others talk of going through major upheavals in their lives on here and just thought I share my own change in progress.

Over 25 years ago I started in business and have been manfacturing lighting ever since. There have been ups and downs but lately there have been mainly downs, so my business partner and I took the decision to cease trading before profit becomes impossible. The staff left today. We will be carrying on just to sell off the remaining items of machinery until the building is sold.

Why close? One word answer - China. Items we used to make a profit on are now sourced by our customers from China. Low value bulky items we could still sell but not at a sensible margin. Virtually without exception other manufacturers we have spoken to are in the same position. Many of them do not have the option to stop because of bank debts.
Our CNC machinery is proving very difficult to sell even at stupidly low prices.

To give an example - to buy cast aluminium components for one product in the UK cost 16 for a set. You then have to fettle them, paint them, add sheet metal parts, electrical assembly, glass etc etc. You can now buy the same (almost) finished product from a UK seller of imports for 16.

Ten years ago you could point to something from China and say "what a load of ****" but I have to admit the products are made to a good standard.

It is a stressful time now but I know my quality of life is set for a major improvement. Can't say I see a bright future for British manufacturing.

All the best for the future. I feel a song coming on.
Always look on the bright side of life
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Old 01-12-2005, 20:47   #7 (permalink)
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In no way is this any comparison - but I packed in my job about five years ago and am now in a totally different but enjoyable career. It was a decision similar to yours and I always believed something good would come out of it.

Good luck for the future Robert, I'm sure you've done the right thing.

regards
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Old 01-12-2005, 20:48   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
No mate but I did nearly add one that signified flogging a dead horse.

I am really sorry to read of your situation.

What plans have you got for your own future now?
I won't miss the 12 hour days and Saturday working (though thats not been the case for a while now with reduced orders). I need to learn how to cope with spare time.

As to plans.... no great plans. A bit of carpentry...a bit more photography . Will think a lot more if boredom sets in. I'm an engineer - used to machines and controllable things. I can handle staff but people skills are not something that comes easily - so wedding photography etc is not on my list of alternate income sources should I need one once the dust has settled.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ASH
Always look on the bright side of life
I'm sure the bright side is coming for me, but when you've just said goodbye and good luck to people that have worked for you for many years the light is a bit muted.

Last edited by RobertP; 01-12-2005 at 20:49. Reason: typo
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Old 01-12-2005, 20:54   #9 (permalink)
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Sad to hear of this Robert but its happening more frequent every day unfortunately..

I hope the future brings you good luck and fortune but most of all happiness.
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Old 01-12-2005, 21:20   #10 (permalink)
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I'm really sorry to hear about you wrapping up your business Robert, you must feel gutted.

When you've regrouped though, you'll realise the pressure and stress you've been under, and that's not good for anyone. We all have to get out of the rat race sooner or later, and a big step towards contentment is recognizing the difference between the things you want and the things you really need. You can compromise and have some of both, but not all if you want to get off that treadmill.

Good luck mate, I'm sure you'll be OK.

We haven't yet begun to see the effect that the huge surge in output from China is going to have on us.
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Old 01-12-2005, 21:56   #11 (permalink)
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whats the CNC machinery you got?
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Old 01-12-2005, 22:04   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASH
Always look on the bright side of life
'Lifes' a piece of sh!t, when you think of it'....

Sad news.
I admire anyone who has the balls to set up a business and especially give full time employment to people. I haven't got what that takes.

That I imagine would have been one of the hardest parts today...seeing your staff go.

As I've quoted before...'as one door closes, another one opens'

I wish you all the best for the future.
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Old 01-12-2005, 22:07   #13 (permalink)
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2 Turret punch presses weighing 11 tons each and one 2.5m press brake still to sell.

Got room in your garage?
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Old 01-12-2005, 22:13   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bachs
'Lifes' a piece of sh!t, when you think of it'....

Sad news.
I admire anyone who has the balls to set up a business and especially give full time employment to people. I haven't got what that takes.

That I imagine would have been one of the hardest parts today...seeing your staff go.

As I've quoted before...'as one door closes, another one opens'

I wish you all the best for the future.
Thanks. I didn't start the thread looking for sympathy. More a comment on the state of support for manufacturing and real jobs for people of different skill levels.

At one time there were tax breaks for investment. Now there are forms about forms and red tape to tie them with. admin overhead increase is another thing I could rant about.

My personal future is probably secure..... it's just going to be a bit different
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Old 02-12-2005, 08:43   #15 (permalink)
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Tis shame indeed Robert, and i know all about the various amounts of paperwork!

I dont actually have garage, but site #1 of our workshop could do with a CNC machine, would save us a fortune, unfortunately we really want CNC routing!

I think you've done the right thing knocking it on the head BEFORE getting into bother financially, its not good to see a company go belly up while owing lots of cash out...
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Old 02-12-2005, 09:01   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertP
2 Turret punch presses weighing 11 tons each and one 2.5m press brake still to sell.

Got room in your garage?
Imagine the cost of sending that ParcelFarce!
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Old 02-12-2005, 10:07   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertP
As to plans.... no great plans. A bit of carpentry...a bit more photography .
You'll get the B&W photography licked then soon
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Old 02-12-2005, 13:43   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EosD
I dont actually have garage, but site #1 of our workshop could do with a CNC machine, would save us a fortune, unfortunately we really want CNC routing!
Not a lot of wood involved in commercial lighting

Need any wood turning lathes? Got two monster ones here used for metal spinning - Taylors.
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Old 02-12-2005, 14:23   #19 (permalink)
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Best of luck for the future, Robert. It seems that quite a few people I know (or know of) are going through major upheavals at the moment...

As for the carpentry... I might have some Holtey planes up for grabs before too long.... (you never know, they might even be a good investment!)
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Old 04-12-2005, 16:53   #20 (permalink)
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Looks as though mine is the only growth industry at the moment...

"Killing is our business... and business is good..." Motto of US 'Phoenix Program' Teams in VietNam.
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Old 04-12-2005, 16:57   #21 (permalink)
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dont need lathes, damned shame though, would have got some good ones there
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Old 04-12-2005, 18:51   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertP
I took the decision to cease trading before profit becomes impossible.
Almost identical story to mine Robert. I ran my own business for 17 years until 6 months ago. It was getting harder and harder to make a profit and I honestly just couldn't be bothered making the effort any more so I took the big decision and quit. I now work for someone else and am loving it, clock on, clock off, no worries other than turning up on time and getting a days work done. I was surprised at how easy it was to get a decent job, I thought that at my age (45) I was pretty much out of the market but I applied for 3 jobs and was offered each of them.

Best of luck to you m8.
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Old 04-12-2005, 18:58   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steep
Almost identical story to mine Robert. I ran my own business for 17 years until 6 months ago. It was getting harder and harder to make a profit and I honestly just couldn't be bothered making the effort any more so I took the big decision and quit. I now work for someone else and am loving it, clock on, clock off, no worries other than turning up on time and getting a days work done. I was surprised at how easy it was to get a decent job, I thought that at my age (45) I was pretty much out of the market but I applied for 3 jobs and was offered each of them.

Best of luck to you m8.
If you put your employers hat back on for a moment.... what you look for in staff is common sense - competance (technical skills and qualifications are only a factor). If you can run a business for many years you have already proved yourself.

I expect we have both employed 'clever' people that somehow manage to have common sense omitted from the CV.
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Old 04-12-2005, 19:23   #24 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by RobertP
I expect we have both employed 'clever' people that somehow manage to have common sense omitted from the CV.
I've been there...especially with Grads (no offence to the smart ones on here ) . The ones' who always have impressed me & gone on to greater things have a bit of "common" & the attitude of "can do" .
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Old 04-12-2005, 19:56   #25 (permalink)
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I was lucky never to have to employ anyone Robert, but I've certainly met and worked with some 'clever' types in jobs that they simply couldn't manage yes.
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