Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday Morning Report

I'm shipping the new WilkinsGRIP BMGmini Titanium grips. I still have some in stock, so have a look and drop me a line if you'd like a set. I am finishing these as ordered, rather than going ahead and doing some Fire Anodized and some Grey Ghost, etc. This way I don't end up with too many of one finish. It may mean that it takes me a day or two to finsih your grips and get the order out.

Also: I am including both black and stainless screws with all Titanium mini orders. Turns out it is easier to just shorten 4 screws instead of trying to keep track of who wants what. The first few orders went out with only the screws as requested, now everybody ordering gets both.

Looks like next up will be WilkinsGRIP D4 Titanium grips! Buyers of the D4 grips -- including one buyer associated with Spyderco -- have been very pleased with the way these grips transform the Delica4. I plan on the D4 grips becoming as much a part of my business as the BMGminis. As soon as I have time to get back to making the drawings and prototypes, I will finish the new WilkinsGRIP product for Spyderco's Endura series.

On another subject: Last year there was a lot of drama when real estate investors bought the commercial building complex where I been renting shop space for the last 9 years or so. Word was, they were kicking me and all the other tenants out to make way for luxury lofts. The new owner ended up delaying their plans for one year and extending my lease until the end of January 2014.

That year is almost up. I was able to finally speak with one of the managing directors of the investment company owners in June when he was touring the property with their architects and other partners. He told me straight out that I should expect no further extension of my lease and that they plan to convert the building to modernized office space and ... kick us all out. Evidently they plan to begin construction in the Spring.

I am doing everything possible to get exact information in writing from the managing company. So far without success. The real estate market in Berlin has gone insane and prices are insane. Not knowing what the immediate future will bring makes it impossible to plan. Should I invest in producing a new knife when I may not have a shop in which to finish the knives next year? I recently went ahead and bought a used Haas Mini Mill because I know I can resell it if I have to. But still, this shit is driving me crazy.

I am looking like mad for alternative locations for my shop, however there is a limit to what I can pay. It has become pretty obvious that it is practically impossible to find anything under €1000 per month. That is a lot of money for a small 100 square meter room and just about the limit I can even consider.

Light manufacturing is being destroyed in this city by real estate speculation. So many of the traditional commercial properties in Berlin that have housed light manufacturing have been converted to luxury lofts or to office space. Foreign investors are paying enormous prices. I cannot place my machinery in an apartment house or storefront, it must be commercial space suited for manufacturing. The other firms in my current complex -- most of whom have 4-8 employees -- are also under enormous pressure to find space where the rent will allow their businesses to survive.

So, wish me luck. Obviously this is also taking a lot of time. Time I could be better spending in the shop making products to sell. And of course, if anybody knows of some commercial space in Berlin ...