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Thread: Monday Morning Blues

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
    Posts
    12,331

    Monday Morning Blues

    Last week I quoted two wood engraving jobs.

    One for a local supermarket chain to engrave a 15" by 1.5" logo on 100 bread boards. I should have quoted $13 or thereabouts but I quoted 11.50.

    The other job was quite substantial involving 3500 pieces of wood to be engraved on 4 sides. Two of the sides would be about 3"x3" and the other two about 1"x3" vertical text. Since I do wood in the 3x3 size fairly often I knew what I should be charging. It should have been in the area of $12. Since there were so many I discounted my quote to $9.50.

    I called the supermarket chain this morning and was told they had two bids under $2.00 each.

    The other guy won't return my calls so I must assume that he found somebody close to his $4.00 target. I guarantee that this job will take 14 minutes to run. Even with building two jigs it will take 12 minutes.

    My guess is that here are examples of people who will soon have their machines up for sale because they don't know or care how much it takes to be in business. They will not have my sympathy.
    Mike Null

    St. Louis Laser, Inc.

    Trotec Speedy 300, 80 watt
    Woodworking shop CLTT and Laser Sublimation
    Evolis Card Printer
    CorelDraw X5

  2. #2
    Its a dog eat dog world at the moment,
    Epilog Legend EXT 60w-Corel X4
    Skype me .

    There's a lot more good than evil,
    and there's a lot more joy than pain.

    "Yea, though I walk through the valley
    of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil:
    for thou art with me;
    thy rod and thy staff
    they comfort me."

  3. #3
    Mike when I was photographing commercially I used to run into that
    problem quite a bit. More often than not not I would get a call back
    shortly before the project was due, and I do mean shortly! Asking
    if I could save them as the photographer greatly under-performed
    and/or over estimated their capabilities. This may be happening here.

    Someone newer to the laser and figured time wrong.

    Did they let you know who quoted it? (probably not)

    I'm just curious if it was an ad speciality company as sometimes
    they have custom built lasers that can bequite a bit faster than ours.

    Maybe a Galvo setup? I have seen the videos of the one that does tiles
    incredibly fast.

    Then again they are quite a bit more expensive and a job should still
    be reasonably priced.

    Iv'e never researched this but could the be "branded" I'm not sure of the
    process for that but I thought I'd through it out there.

    There is entirely to much risk and wear and tear to get $8-$10 hr for
    your time. If the shops are local maybe you can see one when they
    get finished. (highly unlikely they will get finished at that price using
    similar equipment that we use.)


    Marty
    Martin Boekers

    1 - Epilog Radius 25watt laser 1998
    1 - Epilog Legend EXT36 75watt laser 2005
    1 - Epilog Legend EXT36 75watt laser 2007
    1 - Epilog Fusion M2 32 120watt laser with camera 2015
    2 - Geo Knight K20S 16x20 Heat Press
    Geo Knight K Mug Press,
    Ricoh GX-7000 Dye Sub Printer
    Zerox Phaser 6360 Laser Printer
    numerous other tools and implements
    of distruction/distraction!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Barrie, Ontario
    Posts
    239
    Mike I feel your pain, I have been running into this with my custom glass work, and I find it's the retired/hobbyist that are doing this, they figure any amount is better than nothing.
    -
    Zing 24 - 40 watts
    Corel X3/X5/X6
    Autocad 2016

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Sammamish, WA
    Posts
    7,628
    I'd be curious as to the lead time on these jobs. I have discovered that there are sources for "off-shore" laser work now, just like ADA signs and screen printing that are done with so little cost in labor and materials that even with shipping they come in at 15-20% of what we have to charge to make anything. I have done locally installation on some of these and found the work to be low quality but in many cases the price difference makes up for that to the customer.



    Sammamish, WA

    Epilog Legend 24TT 45W, had a sign business for 17 years, now just doing laser work on the side.

    "One only needs two tools in life: WD-40 to make things go, and duct tape to make them stop." G. Weilacher

    "The handyman's secret weapon - Duct Tape" R. Green

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
    Posts
    12,331
    Both of these jobs were local. The 3500 pieces was a year's worth of work at 800 to 900 per quarter.

    To pour a little salt in the wound, when I called the lady on the bread board job she acted as if I was a thief. That may be understandable from her point of view since I was nearly 10 times higher.

    MARTIN

    The galvo set ups I've seen wouldn't handle the bread board due to the size. They generally do small areas very fast.
    Last edited by Mike Null; 09-20-2010 at 12:40 PM.
    Mike Null

    St. Louis Laser, Inc.

    Trotec Speedy 300, 80 watt
    Woodworking shop CLTT and Laser Sublimation
    Evolis Card Printer
    CorelDraw X5

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    2,395
    Mike,
    Your beginning to feel what I get a lot of. I also have a friend close by that does high end CNC 3D work and he has recently been pricing at $60 an hour mind you and getting beat out at $50-55. You should see some of the things he does, like at the moment he is doing a full sized automobile and almost got beat out by a guy carving it in sign foam BY HAND. Unbelievable. Some hungry people out there.
    Epilog Legend EXT36-40watt, Corel X4, Canon iPF8000 44" printer,Photoshop CS6, Ioline plotter, Hotronix Swinger Heat Press, Ricoh GX e3300 Sublimation

  8. #8
    Very often here when laser owner must pay his monthly leasing bill They try to catch job at any price which will allowed them to pay.
    GCC Dealer in Baltic countries

  9. #9
    Not getting the contract sucks. Maybe the competitor is selling laser engraved but delivering silk screen or branding iron. Or outsourcing to India or China. Or maybe he sucks and gets work by doing it cheaply, who knows?

    Those kinds of jobs where a laser is really too sophisticated a tool for application, are often at risk of getting taken away by somebody with a better cheaper faster method. Happens to me a lot, but usually on some mind-numbing work, so I don't mind too much.

    Maybe it would pay to look into some old school alternative marking systems where you can stamp the thing in a couple of seconds per piece. Might be a really low start up cost, too.

    Well anyway, sorry it didn't work out, I know the feeling.

    Dave
    Epilog 35 W 12x24
    Adobe Illustrator
    Dell PC

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    1,810
    In my 2+ year search for a niche, this is exactly what I have found.......almost anything you can think of can be done better, faster or cheaper than with a laser.....and most people (especially for high volume jobs) are looking for the lowest cost regardless of quality. Therefore, even if there is a job that only a laser can do, there are either so many people starving for work that they will do it for pennies or it can be made offshore for a fraction of what we would charge.
    Epilog Mini 24 - 45 Watt, Corel Draw X5, Wacom Intuos Tablet, Unengraved HP Laptop, with many more toys to come.....





    If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have one idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas... George B. Shaw

  11. #11
    I get quotes for work and shake my head at the ineptitude.

    A fellow quoted $1,200.00 to do what took me 5 days and $502.00 to do the restoration on my deck. (See recent thread in OT). When I asked him if he knew there would be between 10 and 15 gallons of paint and stain at $25.00 per involved, he got pretty quiet and adjusted his price up $100.00.

    Yikes. I like a good deal but I'll be damned if I'm going to listen to a sob story half way through the job.

    When the other engraver needs to replace his tube, he'll stop working for peanuts.
    .
    "I love the smell of sawdust in the morning".
    Robert Duval in "Apileachips Now". - almost.


    Laserpro Spirit 60W laser, Corel X3
    Missionfurnishings, Mitchell Andrus Studios, NC

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Clarkson View Post
    .... or it can be made offshore for a fraction of what we would charge.
    Maybe it's not too late to re-examine NAFTA and import taxes.
    .
    "I love the smell of sawdust in the morning".
    Robert Duval in "Apileachips Now". - almost.


    Laserpro Spirit 60W laser, Corel X3
    Missionfurnishings, Mitchell Andrus Studios, NC

  13. #13
    Mike

    I learned the hard way on this sort of thing but a valuable lesson. I had a local organization (Cheepskates Inc.) that wanted 100 1.5" x 10" wood strips, beveled, finished and engraved with 2 lines a name and a title like past chairman. I figured wood, cutting, milling and engraving time and carefully quoted $10. They had more like $2.50 in mind. I was new at this and hungry so we settled at $3.00 ea. I spent about 40 hours of time and materials cost me $2.00 each. So I worked all week for about $2.5 an hour. But that is not what it cost me and here is my point. I stay pretty busy with my little box and gift business where I make about $25 hour, not what a painter gets but ok for year 1. Every hour spent on these low ball jobs is an hour I am not making something else. These low price guys will figure this out eventually. Pretty soon you are trapped in a web of increasing volume at a dropping rate. Now I keep this in mind. It reminded me of the the two guys who decided to sell watermelon for $1.00 each. They bought a truckload of watermelon which they paid $1.00 each. At the end of the day they sold all of the watermelon but realized they made no money. The one guy turned to the other and said " We need to get a bigger truck!"

    Just my 2 cents

    George
    George Beck
    Fishers Laser Carvers

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
    Posts
    12,331
    Just for what it's worth, both these jobs were laser only jobs. It wasn't an issue of a better or cheaper process---just somebody who doesn't know how to price their work.
    Mike Null

    St. Louis Laser, Inc.

    Trotec Speedy 300, 80 watt
    Woodworking shop CLTT and Laser Sublimation
    Evolis Card Printer
    CorelDraw X5

  15. #15
    I've seen stuff for sale that says "laser engraved" that was definitely not laser engraved. One product looked so bad, I'm certain it was made by firing a blow torch through a metal stencil. For some people, its good 'nuff!
    Epilog 35 W 12x24
    Adobe Illustrator
    Dell PC

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