Thursday, November 29, 2018

HSCG Conference - May 2019

I'll be speaking at the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild's annual conference this coming May.

My session will cover manufacturing of handcrafted items and how to use tips and tricks from larger factories to make a small studio run smoothly. It'll be a great chance to learn and meet with other small manufacturers and business owners.

Seth Godin (vs?) Me

I love Seth Godin's thoughts on marketing and work. Seth’s blog consistently says “that’s all well for factories, but we aren’t working in factories”. In fact, this blog was inspired by his recommendation to publish a post every day. (

This blog is for you if you DO, in fact, work in a factory. Here, we are people that make things, make them well, consistently. We are showing up in a particular place, and our work can't be done from a laptop traveling the world.

Based on the trending topics like digital startups and marketing work, we sometimes can feel we have left the physical world behind, but the world still uses physical products, and it's good to make them well. We still need butchers, bakers, and artisanal clean-burning candlemakers. This is a blog for people that make things and want to make them better. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Style and Substance

If you like to think of yourself as a messy genius (what your desk looks like is a good indicator), you might think a sparkling studio is choosing style over substance. If you're picky about aesthetics (what your linen closet looks like is a good indicator) you might think that a working studio is a temporary sacrifice to substance until things are cleaned up again. But a clean, working studio is both style and substance. Labeling and organized product flow through your studio should make sense whether things are being made or not. A plant tour is best done and enjoyed when things are actually made, and the making of the product should be as clear and organized as the space surrounding it.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Showroom Ready

Showroom Ready. Is your factory ready at a moment to receive visitors? If you get a call that the local morning TV show wants to film, do you have to pass because you’d be up all night trying to make your shop presentable? Keeping things orderly translates directly to more opportunities. A messy shop is the most obvious way to show someone you don’t care, and a clean shop is the easy route to a strong first impression.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Lifting Things

Lifting Things. Ergonomics is not just for computers. Anything we are working on should be working within easy reach, preferably in the same area as a strike zone while playing baseball (knees to chest and close in front of the body). If it’s not, consider moving it permanently or temporarily while it’s being used. Work stands lift an object to a specified height. Lift tables move the working height from high to low on a single item. Step stools bring a person up to a higher working height. 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Beach Metrics

Just like beach muscles, which look good but don't do much to make a person stronger or healthier, there are lots of beach metrics in running a factory. Here are a few:

1. Number of employees
2. Square footage of a factory
3. Top Line revenues
4. Amount of product made
5. Number of customers
6. Amount of inventory on hand

It’s easy to see some of these business metrics and assume someone else's business is going well. But increasing these metrics can be either wonderful or a disaster for a factory, depending on the circumstances. Increasing the number of employees without increasing sales or revenue simply adds cost to the business. Moving to a larger factory space could be as much due to mismanagement of inventory and space as an actual increase in sales and throughput. These kinds of metrics are easy to quote to others, easier than sharing net margins, throughput per employee, total profits, or whether the owner is drawing a reasonable salary from the business.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Floor Loading - How Much Weight Can You Put on a Pallet?

How to calculate floor loading. A typical residential building code might require floors to withstand 40 pounds per square foot (or PSF). Office buildings might have a rating of 100 PSF. This is roughly the amount of weight you’d have with a group of standing people. For materials and equipment in industrial buildings, you can calculate how much weight is being applied per square foot. Typically, ground floors with poured concrete can sustain much larger loads than upper floors – consider this when looking for your industrial space. This is also important to keep in mind if you’re thinking of adding stacked racks for storage or a mezzanine office space.
For a typical Pallet (40x48 inches) of materials, here’s the max weight that corresponds to various floor loads: