Sunday, September 22, 2013

My Workshop Lease has been Terminated

I received the final written termination notice on the lease for my workshop in Saturday's mail. The property was sold last year and the new owners have refused to negotiate new leases. It's not about paying a higher rent and staying. The new owners want to totally renovate the old building and turn it into luxury offices.

So not only will I have to go, but also everybody else. A sheet metal fabricating company, a cabinetmaker and his employees, a company who make transport belts for assembly lines and vocational school, among others. Some of my neighbors have been in the space over 30 years. I have been there almost 10 years.

We initially thought this was going to happen right after the building sold, but it took an extra year for the new owners to finalize their construction plans. Or whatever.

My lease ends 31. January 2014. The new owners have indicated verbally that they will not be starting construction before early Spring and it would be possible to stay several months after my lease ends if necessary. I don't have that in writing but I hope they will keep their word.

I have already been searching like mad for a new location, however it is not easy to find a small space where I can install heavy machinery. Rents are also high. I cannot pay €2000 and more per month for a space. I also cannot drive 100 kilometers every day. Although I have used the last year to get my operation in shape as best as I can, there is a limited amount of money to be made in this business.

I have talked things over with my accountant and I cannot let myself fall into the trap of Going Broke in Installments. Either I find a new location that is viable, where I have a chance to make a living, or I have to sell off the machines and shut it down. At least if I do that, I will have the money from the sale of the assets to give me some time to figure out my next move. If I spend every cent I have moving into a space I cannot hope to pay for, I will end up ruined. And out of business.

I am also searching for spaces suitable to share with one or more of my neighbors – all of whom have multiple employees and much larger space requirements. Maybe something will work out there? The real estate situation in Berlin is very difficult to say the least.

So, I do not expect to introduce any new products until I have this situation sorted out. No new long-term projects. Certainly no more new knife models or custom orders.

I will continue to produce WilkinsGRIPs in batches I can complete and have ready for sale. I have the largest stock of grips on hand right now that I have ever offered. I also have a fairly good stock of knives. If you have been thinking about buying something from me, the next few months would be the time to do so. If I am able to find a new space, the move will cost a good €10,000. That money has to come from product sales.

So if anybody knows of workshop space in Berlin, I need 80-120 square meters or 300-600+ square meters that could be divided and shared, drop me a line ... and keep those orders coming!

Kevin Wilkins