I am taking the easy route this week with a recycled blog. I just love this one and I think about it just about every single day including in my house with the kids. So far we started the year with the no complaining diet. I would say this blog too portrays another great potential New Year’s resolution. If you haven’t followed my lead on “YES” in the past, no time is better than now. Just try this…you too will realize how liberating it feels to say YESSSS!
No! No! No! That dirty little word has be driving me crazy lately because I have been hearing way too much of it from people that should be saying YES! YES! YES! I am hearing this from suppliers, vendors, publishers, employees, reps and so many others. I just don’t get it. I am not sure if the people are just being lazy or that it is just their nature, but from me, I can promise you a YES! 99.9% of the time.
What kind of business practice would it be to say NO? A stupid one in my opinion. The thing that bothers me even more is that when I ask “why not?” the answer is really nothing more than a really lame excuse. I could live with a legitimate excuse. I am not big on excuses though and typically ignore them because all they are is excuses. So in my quest for yes answers, I relentlessly press the NO-sayers to try to get them to a yes answer. I end up hearing more excuses and it makes me consider whether I want to continue to do business with a NOer (someone who always says NO!). Who really needs it when I can probably easily find someone else that will say yes?
I frequently get calls, emails and letters with all sorts of requests and like I said, 99.9% of the time I say yes. To say yes is rewarding. People are sometimes shocked at the lengths I will go to in order to make something happen. But this is an amazing quality and this will make people want to continue to work with me and continue to do business with my family of companies. You would truly be surprised how often I get thank you emails, calls and letters. People even stop me at quilt market and say, “you were so kind to have done so and so.”
Without harping on my successes of being a yes man, I have one simple request: stop saying no! and start saying YES! YES! YES! You too will be thanking me as it is never too late to turn over a new and simple leaf like this one. You will be proud you did. Am I right or what?
I am so excited about this blog post. It really isn’t a blog though. Rather, this is 11 pages of Jaftex Corp. and Fortunoff family history in the words of my grandfather, Everett, that I recently discovered. It is a true gem. I wish he were alive to read all my blogs and see all the social media stuff going on. He would absolutely love it. In any case, get on some good glasses or a magnifying glass and grab a bottle of something (grandpa preferred Vermouth) and take a walk down the textile memory lane. Please enjoy the story and my grandfather’s sense of humor. (If it is too hard for you to read, please make a note in the comments and I will forward you a clearer version.)
I truly hope that you made it to the end and enjoyed this as much as I do. I so cherish this and will protect it with my life for the fifth, sixth and so on generations.
The worst part of 2017 for me was when my Uncle Michael passed away. In an effort to honor him in the year that he died, I wanted to share the eulogy that I presented at his funeral. I was uncertain about sharing this at first, but I am proud of what I wrote for him. In addition, I believe it did my amazing uncle the justice that he deserved. I did my best to keep it short and to the point since I knew I would struggle emotionally if I went on for too long. As it was, no matter how long or short, it was one of the most challenging speaking engagements I have ever had to endure in my life.
Since my uncle’s passing, I have read the eulogy many times. I am not sure why exactly, but it makes me nostalgic….that is, until I get to the very end when I bid him farewell forever. That part breaks me every time. To me, it signifies the finality and crystallizes the fact that I unfortunately will never see him again. I guess the reality is setting in and that truly hurts. God bless you Uncle Michael. RIP.
I aspire to be as good as an uncle as you were to me, but you are a tough act to follow. I have such fond memories of water skiing and fishing with you when I was younger. The thing is this Unc, you did those things, and a multitude of other things, for Greg, Jill and I that you didn’t have to do. You chose to do them and wanted to do them out of the goodness of your heart because you took joy in our joy. That is an amazing and selfless quality and for that I am eternally grateful. I will never forget your importance in my life and all that you taught me.
How can I ever forget your last Father’s Day? You lounged there on the chaise in my backyard, everyone surrounded you and showed you love as if you were The Godfather. We were all relishing our last days, hours, minutes and seconds with you and you with us. It is going to be hard to go in the backyard without picturing you sitting there in all your glory surrounded by so many people that lived for you and loved you. Unc, you will not be forgotten. That is for sure.
I am so glad that I came to visit you in the hospital just a couple of weeks ago. It was clear that you were worn down, but that didn’t prevent you from having moments of clarity to address your own agenda. You grabbed me by the hand and told me what I meant to you and how much you loved me. You knew your days were numbered and this was your special goodbye to me. Now, I too unfortunately have to say goodbye to you forever best Uncle Michael.
I am going to reveal a secret to all you shop owners out there. Some may already know the secret, but others may not and I hope that this perhaps opens your eyes to new opportunities that will help to increase your profits and improve your business in 2018 and forward.
As you know, since the summer, I have been giving away free sewing machines to those facing difficult circumstances in their lives. No doubt sewing relaxes people, helps to relieve stress and also distracts from stress. All good things if you ask me. If you take a closer look at the free sewing machine giveaway though, you could see that it might have some unintended positive effects on my business too. Simply put: more sewing machines in circulation=more fabric used and sold. The thing is that it doesn’t only help my companies, it helps our entire industry that we all need to thrive for many years to come. My fifth generation of Fortunoffs surely needs it to thrive as they are going to need jobs in the not too distant future.
Allow me to compare razors to sewing machines to put my secret in to perspective. Companies that sell razors don’t get rich selling the razors. They get rich selling the razor blades since not many people need razor blades without the razors. With respect to sewing machines, not all sewers need sewing machines, but if they have a sewing machine, that should result in an increased demand for fabric since projects will get completed quicker and more frequently. In other words, the more fabric machines that are in circulation, the higher the demand will be for fabrics too. This is a win/win for everyone in our great fabric industry. Not only that, but if you read my recent blog, this sewing machine growth will help to fuel my self-proclaimed SEWING REVOLUTION that I hopefully sparked a little in my last blog post. According to a recent survey that was revealed at quilt market, there is an estimated 7-10 million quilters in the US and there is no reason why that number shouldn’t explode with the help of increased sewing machine and fabric sales.
Now that I have established that the circulation of more machines equals more fabric sales, I must finally reveal the big secret.My secret for success in 2018 is for shops that don’t carry machines to carefully revisit the possibility and logistics of starting to sell machines in their shop. Please don’t be afraid to change and try something new because you may be very surprised at the results. As I often say, change is good. The advantage of doing this is that you now have an additional source of income with higher margin items and larger dollar sales. Many shop owners that sell machines tell me that they couldn’t survive without the machines. I know that isn’t the case for everyone, but bringing sewing machines in for sale could certainly help your shop to thrive in 2018 and forward. Not only that, but if you sell more machines, you will sell more razor blades….ooops, I mean you will sell more fabric. This all goes hand in hand and results in growth which we would all welcome.
I often use the quote from the movie Field Of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” If you bring in the sewing machines, they will come and buy them and then they will come in and buy more fabric, more frequently. However, before you run out and go crazy finding sewing machines to sell, I suggest that you do some thorough homework because this is a big decision and investment. Contact a variety of sewing machine companies and find out the logistics of getting machines in your shop. Contact at least 2-3 different companies so you could compare them and see which one offers you the best deal and which makes the most sense for you based on your specific needs. Ask about specials and financing. Reach out to another shop owner you know that carries machines and pick their brains.
You need to see if you have sufficient space for the machines. If space is limited, you may want to consider smaller machines or work with a company that allows you to buy a couple machines at a time that will be replenished as you sell. The thing is that the sewing machine companies want to sell the machines, so push them to get you the best deal possible for your circumstances. My final word of caution is that you make sure that your financial position allows you to bring in sewing machines because you don’t want to stretch yourself too thin and get yourself in a bind and put your entire business and family at risk.
Now that I got that out of the way, I am going to take it one step further and then wrap up. Please consider attending the Vacuum & Sewing Trade Show & Convention (VDTA & SDTA) from March 24-26 at the Charlotte Convention center at 501 S. College Street, Charlotte, NC. Click this link to learn more. I will be attending this show for the second year in a row and I think it is worthwhile for you to poke around and learn about new opportunities. Finally, not only might you consider bringing in sewing machines, but you may want to delve in to the possibility of carrying vacuums too. You just never know!
Food For Thought…what do you think?
Sewing Machine Scott
PS…If you decide to add sewing machines to your shop, I would love to hear about it and I will certainly help to spread the word for you.
I have been on such a high lately from giving away free sewing machines. Who would’ve thought? Not me! I just called my shrink and told her to tear up my prescriptions because I think I am cured….for now that is. Anyway, to bring you up to speed on Scott’s Free Sewing Machines (SFSM), I have given away nearly 30 machines since the summer (that doesn’t include 7 for the Freedom House from my BFF) and I have vowed to give away 45 by my 45th birthday on December 4th and 50 by the end of the year.
Now that you are up to speed on the latest on my sewing machine adventure, I need to set the tone for this blog with a new trick that I just learned from my amazing social media guru, Vanessa Denniston. So with that, please hit play on this Tracy Chapman video below where she’s Talkin’ ’bout A Revolution which is the same thing I am coincidentally talking about.
I just love that song. Don’t you? Doesn’t it get you pumped up to want to start a revolution and make something positive happen in this crazy world that we live in? It sure has me pumped up and you all know very well that I am trying to make a little positive change in the world through sewing and fabric.
The thing with SFSM is that I am only one person. I mean seriously, maybe I could give 100 machines away a year if I really put my mind to it. And don’t get me wrong that I would welcome the opportunity, but there are only so many hours in the day and as you know….here it comes…..I am still NOT the president of giving away free sewing machines….yet. I do smile every time I use that joke. I hope you do too.
Ok Mr. Scott, how do you plan to start this so called SEWING REVOLUTION? Here are some of my ideas:
What if you did the same thing that I am doing? No, you don’t have to give away 50 machines a year, but what if you picked one person or maybe 5 people and bought them each a sewing machine. It doesn’t have to be a $1000 machine, it just needs to be a basic starter machine like the EverSewn Maker 200 that I am giving away. Reach out to local charities, schools, churches, etc. and find someone that needs a machine. Give them the gift of a machine out of the kindness of your heart and because you love of sewing and know what joy it brings you. It could be a complete and total random act of kindness. If you can’t do it alone, find a couple friends and do it together and make it fun. If you want to take it a step further, offer to mentor this lucky soul who is getting your amazing sewing machine gift. Imagine the power of this. Now we are talking about getting this SEWING REVOLUTION rolling!
Forget the ipods, clothing and crappy toys for Christmas, how about a sewing machine for your child, spouse, grandparent, wife, husband, what have you? That is the gift that keeps on giving and moves us a step closer to the SEWING REVOLUTION!
Is your machine aged? Have you been thinking about an upgrade to one of the newer high tech machines? It is time to pull the trigger and go for it. I am not one to spend other people’s money, so this is only if you can afford to do it. If you do have the means, when you go to buy your new machine, see if the shop owner will tune up your old machine so that you could give it away to someone else in good condition. Maybe they will throw that repair in as part of the deal if they know you are donating it to someone that can’t afford their own machine. This can only help their business and help to fuel our ensuing SEWING REVOLUTION!
We need to get our schools to step up the Home EC situation. And colleges need to offer more quilting and sewing classes. This is an art that can’t become a lost art. Fight for it! Ask for it! Speak up! The SEWING REVOLUTION is gaining steam and it needs your help to keep advancing it further.
So those are a handful of my ideas that I have been tossing around. What are your ideas? Please share them and let’s light a fire under this SEWING REVOLUTION. We need to share the joy of sewing with others and it all starts here with the SEWING REVOLUTION….one machine at a time. Together we can do this because that is the nature of our amazing fabric industry.
All that being said, please watch a short video that I created at market about the Sewing Revolution.
Thanks for your time and contributions to the SEWING REVOLUTION!
Yup, you guessed it. It’s a big macher induction at the quilt market. (Please refer to my big Macher blog if you don’t know what I am talking about).
It’s so cool to be in the presence of quilt industry royalty. Today I asked big Macher number 1, Pepper Cory (left) to induct big Macher number 2 and here you have it in a Kodak moment.
I hope (no pun intended) you know who she is, but if not, allow me and Pepper to introduce you to Hope Yoder of Designs By Hope Yoder. She is a new designer for the Blank Quilting Corp among other things. See more about those ‘other’ things here. I am so excited to add her to our team. Her new line, Roses and Arrows, has been a hit at market. See the digital quilt of her design in the above photo. This line ships in April, is offered by the bolt, in fat quarters and strips too.
In addition to this little Macher moment that I captured, I attended 2 school houses by Hope Yoder, who was helped by her bright daughter and right hand, Olivia. The school houses were very helpful and I love Hope’s cute sense of humor and how adorable she is. I am not sure all the attendees caught all her jokes, but I certainly enjoyed it and was definitely chuckling away in the back. My favorite thing of all about Hope is that she is a rainmacher (autocorrect is amazing, we just made up a word and I love it) and a doer. She sets goals and makes things happen. These are all great attributes and we should all aspire to do the same. Without further ado, please welcome Hope to the Macher-ena. You remember that Macerena song? I couldn’t resist. But seriously, please welcome Hope to our team and the land of big Macher. I hope to work with Hope and Olivia for many years to come. Thanks for all that you do and thanks to Pepper too!
PS…I think I just drank my fourth bottle of $5 water in the hotel at Quilt Market.
PSS…several friends felt bad and offered to buy the water for me and I took them up on it. It feels so much better when they pay. Very refreshing. Thanks!
It’s so hard for me to say ‘no’ to people when I speak to them on the phone about Scott’s Free Sewing Machines (SFSM). People are so honest. People are hurting. People are proud. People are doing the best they can under the circumstances. Maybe these sewing machines will make them a little happy. But, what if it makes them really happy? Kind of like medication. What if it changes their life for the better? What if? As my dad likes to say, “I don’t do what ifs?”
Anyway, I like to hope. It’s sad to see and hear what’s going on in many of these peoples’ lives. I know it’s all relative, but I would be hurting badly if I were in a lot of the SFSM recipients’ shoes. In any event, I am happy to announce more well-deserved winners this week, here goes:
Kaitlin Rhodenbaugh– Given at the request of Nancy Tiede who was teaching Kaitlin to sew, so she could have her own machine.
Alesia Steinberger – Hurricane survivor who sews for charity.
Sharon Lattis – Grandparent who is raising grandchildren, retired without a machine.
Michele Mcdonald-Lost everything in Texas storms.
Rachael Worley-For one of her (8) adopted kids who wants to learn to sew.
Lindsey Jarvis– A mom that I met in Kansas with a very sad life story.
Tiffanie Kimball Dougal-A mom with 5 daughters she home-schools and who survived storms in Texas.
Shelley Christopher-Homeless woman who just got into housing with her disabled husband.
Renee Bednarczyk-Had borrowed a machine and it was ruined in Texas.
Susan Shaw-Very ill woman without a sewing machine.
Hogan Family – Sent machines for the other two sisters in the family who lost their sister.
To keep you updated on SFSM, here are some points and pointers:
I am still looking for a woman named Linda Yarrow, who sent me a very compelling comment on the blog.
I am not in the sewing machine business and unfortunately can’t fix machines for you. Ask you local handyman to try and fix it for free or figure out another creative way to get it fixed, but don’t give up on it because your sewing machine is an integral part of your life.
Please post your sewing machine requests only in the comments section of any blog on the Studioe Fabrics website for Tales of a Fourth Generation Textile Executive. Please try to avoid emailing me at my work email.
Please be patient with me as I work through all the requests. There is a lot of ground to cover and I still have a day job and once again the job is not President of Giving Away Free Sewing Machines. That one never gets old for me. LOL.
Please continue to share my giveaway with anyone who may be worthy. The giveaway is going to go on indefinitely or until I stop getting requests. Thank you for your support and kind messages.
Not so happy Monday folks. Today I am taking a break from being happy boring Scott. It is not by choice, but rather out of circumstance, so hopefully you will understand and can make an exception this one time. Last week’s trip unfortunately didn’t turn out as planned. A little wrench was thrown at me when my uncle (Michael Brod) finally passed away from brain cancer. I knew it was coming (as did my loyal blog reader’s), but who is kidding who, one is never fully prepared for the death of a loved one.
The thing is that for me (excluding my grandparents), this is the first death that has rattled me to my core and really hit home. I mean seriously, I am an emotional wreck every time I think about Unc or Uncsy as we liked to call him. All the memories. All the love. And now the void. I am totally speechless.
So, my son finally left for camp with a huge smile on his face despite all the tears emanating from the rest of us. He was so brave! And notice how I use the word finally. It was time for him to go. He went. The rest is history and now I feel a lot lighter with this weight off me. Now, let’s pray together for 46 1/2 more days of smooth sailing. Next subject!
Over the 87 years of being in business, Jaftex has had nearly 20 companies under its umbrella and almost all of the companies were purchased from someone else. I wanted to discuss the manner in which most of these companies were acquired because I thought it would be interesting for you to learn. But also, I think we are on the precipice of a lot of M&A activity about to occur in our industry. Yes, this is me predicting the future without any inside scoop. The reason being is that companies can gain more efficiencies by purchasing others. Basically, the total sales volume can increase and the overhead (expenses) on the combined company can decrease due to redundancies and other cost cutting measures. For example, you don’t need 2 book keepers, secretaries, offices, warehouses, etc. There is also purchasing power when you buy more stuff, so that too can result in lower costs and higher profits.
Many of the companies that we purchased had been struggling before we purchased them. In most cases, the owners were very relieved to have the life line. Typically, the purchases were inventory based. Essentially, we and the seller evaluated the inventory and valued it based on the original costs and age of the fabric. This is a simplistic description as other factors did play in to it, but I don’t want to bore you with the minutiae. We then buy the fabric. In addition, we take on all the essential employees that we need to maintain the continuity of the business. We also take on a portion (or all) of the obligations that exist including the sales. So maybe we take on paying the insurance for the employees, but not the rent for the office since we don’t need the space anymore. We like to think that we can be value-added to the company and turn it around by implementing methods and processes that have worked for us so well over the years. It usually takes a year or so for us to get the company running on all cylinders. We have been fortunate to mostly have asset purchase deals, but not all deals are the same.
Not all companies are purchased while they are in trouble. Some are purchased at a time when the company is doing great and we wouldn’t be afraid to pay up for the right company if the opportunity arose. In this case, the owner may want to sell out because he or she wants to retire, go in to another business, try to get out of the business at the top and/or maximize profits and the list goes on. In this scenario, a simple inventory purchase won’t work. This person is thinking, show me the money! The owner will want money for his or her good will, the brand name, future booked sales, websites and so many other things that took him or her time to build and perfect. The buyer may want a multiple of earnings. For example if the company earned $1 million last year, they may want to be bought for $5 million plus the cost of the inventory. That would be 5 times earnings and the buyer would be paying up.
The thing is, what multiple would you use to evaluate a textile company? It isn’t a biotech company or tech company where the multiples could be 15% or even higher based on the huge growth potential. Dream on if you think you are getting 15% or even 5% in the textile industry. For this industry, I would say low single digits would be more reasonable.
It’s not like it isn’t easy to go out and start up your own fabric company. There are so few barriers to entry. Case in point, Sue & John Linam, formerly of Fabric-Quilt, are now starting a brand new fabric business. So why would someone pay a double-digit multiple? If you are thinking about selling and are fantasizing about double-digit multiples, I would start thinking again and fast because it isn’t going to happen. Once you start merger and acquisition discussions, you will learn very fast what someone is willing to pay and I would guess that the number is under 5%.
Hopefully one of these days I will have a new deal to report to you about. In the meantime, let’s see if my prediction about M&A comes to fruition.
One thing that was very clear at market and something that I have been talking about a lot lately is that competition is fiercer than ever. Everyone, including me, is fighting for customer dollars in order to be one of the survivors. This is our livelihood and why wouldn’t we fight the fight to be king of the mountain or at least be on the mountain and not in the swamp below. With that, I have come to recognize that we are in a race to the bottom that is not healthy for our industry or any industry for that matter. Do you know what I mean by the race to the bottom?
As the overhead of the business equation goes up because that is what it probably does every year (higher rent, higher wages, inflation, insurance and the list goes on), the profit margin side of the equation goes down due to decisions being made to compete.
For example, a simple race to the bottom is that the yardage on a bolt in lots of cases is getting smaller or requests are being made for them to be smaller. The majority of fabric re-sellers want smaller bolts so they can turn the fabric faster, make smaller investments, take less risk, have more variety and so on. Some vendors are doing this and competing in the race to the bottom. Others are holding strong whereby they will only go as low as a 10 or 12 yard bolt.
All things being equal, the shorter bolts wouldn’t be the end of the world, but for these facts. Shorter bolts mean less efficient cutting due to the constant changing of the board for the next piece, it means more boards, it means fewer bolts fit in a box due to the fact that more boards take more space and it takes up more real estate on warehouse shelves. Guess what this all means folks? Yes, there are increased costs associated with the shorter bolts. So now, not only are you selling fewer yards, but the costs to make that smaller bolt are increased too. So this is at a minimum a double whammy if not triple or quadruple whammy. Lower margin-ville here we come. Oh, stop the sarcasm Scott! You are winning the race to the bottom. I said stop the sarcasm Scott! Not a race I want to be winning nor should you want it either. Please resist because once you do this, there is no going back to how it used to be.
Another example is how buyers are always pushing for lower pricing. Of course, it is their job to get the best prices possible, so why not try? Anyway, I inevitably hear the buyer say that other vendors are lower priced than I am. Obviously, that is sucky and no one ever wants to hear that. The thing is that I never know if they are telling the truth or just pushing my buttons. But they are saying it and getting in my head, so I have to deal with it anyway, otherwise someone else is going to keep eating my lunch so to speak. Assuming they are telling the truth and being that I have a pretty good handle on my fabric costs, I know where I need to draw the line. At some point it just doesn’t work for me and my business. I sell fabric to make a profit, not a loss. Why would someone do that? Because they want to be the winner of the race to the bottom. I know, I am sorry, I have to tone down the sarcasm and be happy boring Scott. I am smiling though. I digress.
I am sure that you can come up with many more examples of the race to the bottom unfortunately. But, in short, the winners of the race to the bottom will probably go out of business sometime soon because they are selling too cheaply and that is no way to be successful. Be careful folks. Use discipline and make sure you know what margins you need to make to add to your bottom line and not detract. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.