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  • John Vanderlee
    replied
    Michael Amen.
    Remind me to tell you some time about the plumber I had to hire ( one thorny problem I could not cure myself) After 2 hours he walked out with $460! And I was glad to pay him!

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  • myorgan
    commented on 's reply
    John,

    I feel your pain. Our school is championing a "maker space," and I actually help out with the robotics program where students learn coding, research, design, and assembly/building for competitions. Often, they're the only middle school competing with many high schools. It is the one program where highly academically gifted students can mix with hands-on students in a non-judgmental environment. Both serve a valuable service to the team.

    In the job market, non-college degree positions are growing at a greater pace than those which require a degree. In fact, many of them are better paying than white collar jobs. Unfortunately, schools are basing what they offer on graduation rates and those who go on to college rather than a career.

    In fact, most schools are cutting the trades programs because they traditionally serve less students than the average lecture classroom, and are the most expensive programs to obtain and maintain. I'm not sure how schools determine the trades programs aren't needed because in reality, they're preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist. Good schools teach students how to learn effectively, rather than rote education.

    Michael

  • John Vanderlee
    replied
    Regarding who will service next, I must confess to our rather unique position. We give organ lessons on a large Allen installation in our High School's auditorium. Actually the console moves to a studio for lessons, where there is a small sound system. To support the instructor of the program ( the school does not pay) we fund raise by "recycling" organs and organ parts. That's why you see me asking questions about different models as they move through. A huge THANKS to John and all those others who have contributed to solve some thorny issues. Again, THANK YOU!
    But my point is, We only have 3 official service techs in our area, and they are aging out - the oldest is 85! God bless him. All tell me they don't know who will take their place, as there is tons of work just like in Jbird's area. And they charge serious money.
    Our workshop is in a free space owned by the school district. They tell me there are many kids that enjoy the "makers" programs (that's a fancy new term for tinkerers and hobbyists). So I suggested some of them apprentice with us. Now I also sit in many school meetings where the graduation rates and college acceptances are bemoaned. And a lack of decent paying jobs out there.Yet the apprentice idea falls on deaf ears. I don't get it.
    John

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  • jbird604
    commented on 's reply
    Yep. Sad to say, but many of the folks who are "in the ministry" are the first to ignore God's vital words to humanity regarding rest. (I don't even need to add that some of these folks also seem to think that the rest of the commandments are for other people, but not for them...)

    And yes to the last sentence. In my life I have sat beside a good many people in their final days and hours, and never once has someone said to me "I wish I'd spent more time at the office" or "I should've worked more weekends." But I have heard "I wish I'd spent more time with my family" and "I should've taken more vacations." Not that it really matters at the end anyway, but we should be living our lives such that we won't have those regrets when it's impossible to do anything about them.

  • cham-ed
    replied
    it is kind of like in the airplane and the safety talk. If traveling with a small child put the oxygen mask on yourself first... And as you have mentioned there is a commandment. God and many of us small business owners realize the need for a break. With the proper rest we can actually be better at what we do. You seem to realize that and I encourage you to defend your need for some time off. And sorry to say, on your deathbed you will only regret the time you could have spent with family & friends.

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  • jbird604
    commented on 's reply
    Thanks, Michael. I can't imagine what it's like to have 10 concerts in a month! You're going to need a vacation soon!

  • myorgan
    commented on 's reply
    Right on, John! Preach it, brother!

    No need to feel sorry at all, whether you want to or not. People do need to understand you actually have a life and would like to have at least part of one day to live it on your own and not at the behest of others! I can't even imagine what it's like to be you, and in so much demand. And here I am feeling sorry for myself that I have 10+ concerts next month to perform–on average, one every 3rd day!

    Thanks for all you do, John!

    Michael

  • jbird604
    replied
    Believe me... I very truly do NOT mind one bit helping out you guys here on the forum. It's actually rather fun and helps me take my mind off other things when I get involved in a thread here. You all are my friends, and am happy to share general knowledge and info with you and help you enjoy your instruments to the greatest possible extent. I don't expect any payment unless we enter into a contract (as I've done with a couple of folks via the forum) for a specific type of professional service, and I'd rather be browsing this forum in my spare time than sitting in front of the TV.

    What's more, I really do NOT mind at all when some of you call me on the phone or otherwise make contact to get some help or an opinion or whatever. I would NEVER be angry at one of you for calling me any time, and if I simply can't talk at the time, I'll tell you so. I've actually done that a time or two when one of you called and I was busy or out doing something with my wife or family.

    But there is a type of call that really bugs me. This is when somebody I don't even know calls me on SUNDAY hoping to get an instrument in their church fixed BY TONIGHT. Either wanting me to make a service call, or else just walk them through it over the phone. This may be someone I work for regularly, or maybe I've made a service call at their church sometime in the past 25 years, or maybe they just got my name and number from someone else that I've done a call for.

    I just can't understand how someone who is a pastor or a church musician can have little enough regard for the Fourth Commandment that they would break it themselves and call me and try to get me to break it. I want to ask them what part of Exodus 20:8-11 do they not understand?

    Believe it or not, I go to church too, and I desperately need my rest on Sunday, and it really cannot be THAT important for you have your instrument TONIGHT, unless the way you get to heaven has been revised since the last time I checked.

    Sorry, not sorry. This is just one more thing that has been bugging me, and this happens far more often than people think.
    Last edited by jbird604; 11-10-2019, 01:48 PM.

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  • jbird604
    commented on 's reply
    The recent surge in sales is obviously encouraging, and tends to counter some of the negativity I've felt. Two of the sales were to private individuals for their own homes -- both being adults (50+ in age) who have decided to take organ lessons and become proficient enough to play for church. That in itself is very encouraging.

    The Hammond/Leslie sale was to a Gospel touring performer. We all know that particular genre of music continues to use the Hammond/Leslie sound and many performers are eager to have "the real thing."

    The other sale (MOS-1) is to a mainline denomination's "First Church" in a county seat town nearby. This congregation was once large, and still worships in a good-size church with a century-old pipe organ (a little unit organ of about six ranks) that needs a TON of work, not to mention that it was undersized and quite colorless even when it was all working. Their numbers having dwindled to a handful, they can't afford to maintain the pipe organ (not even to do some urgent work on the electrical part of it which has become a fire hazard). So they are going to let us install this nice older MOS so they can have organ music again. (They will NOT be removing the old pipe organ, just not using it any more.)

    That sale is perhaps not so encouraging, being very likely a stopgap measure to keep music alive in their service for a few more years before the congregation vanishes entirely. But it does go to show that there are still folks out there who love the sound of organ music enough to spend some money, even in a very tiny congregation.

    It's tough to realize that when I got into this business (I went full-time about 30 years ago) I had a number of competent competing techs right here in the state, and every major city in the south had a decent electronic organ tech (and a dealership or two), but now I seem to be the only qualified and active Allen/Rodgers/Misc-digital organ repairman for more than 300 miles in some directions, and there is not even ONE seller of new church organs in this state!

  • myorgan
    commented on 's reply
    Never satisfied, are you, John?

    Seriously, I wonder if it's time to re-visit some of your pessimistic posts concerning the state of the organ business, and see what you think now? It would be interesting to investigate the cause of the surge of business for you–reputation, others going out of business, your good work, churches suddenly needing organs they gave up and returning to traditional worship, or some other combination of reasons.

    Please keep us posted, if you have the time!

    Michael

  • jbird604
    replied
    Although I don't have all the checks in hand yet, it appears that we have now sold FOUR of our used organs in the space of about a month. That's more organs than we usually sell in a YEAR. Not sure what has brought on the rash of sales. And two of the four were premium sales too, up near the most money we've ever gotten for a used organ, as one was MDS and one was Renaissance. One of the others was a MOS-1, but quite a big one, and the fourth is a Hammond tone wheel with Leslie (not our specialty, but we do happen onto a good one of those now and then). Both of those brought good prices too, considering their age.

    This is all of course good news, helping me keep the doors of the shop open for another year, and boding well for the future of the organ business. I just hope I can sort of catch up and feel confident about continuing to take care of the organ service business in this state, and in the border counties of adjoining states.

    As an example, we set out one day this week to service three organs in one day -- two of them in an Arkansas city about 3 hours from the shop and a third one just over the line in Missouri, about an hour beyond the other two. Before we even got to the first two, I had a call from yet another church in Missouri, not too far from the one we had on the schedule for the day. But then the one of the jobs in Arkansas "swarmed" on us and we spent more time there than anticipated. Because neither of us wanted to get home after dark, and both had evening plans, we postponed the trip to Missouri, and plan to catch both of them on a single drive next week. But that will mean about 8 hours of just DRIVING in that one day, not to mention the hour or two we will likely spend on each job!

    So this is the state of the business. Nobody seems to be coming along to take some of the burden, either in Arkansas or in adjoining states. Neither my associate nor I enjoy staying away from home at night (our wives certainly do not want us to do that), and we are reluctant to charge churches thousands of dollars for organ repairs! But the cost of making a trip like the one we're anticipating next week, with all that travel time (and well over 400 miles), is outrageous, if we charge even half our regular rates for the ridiculous amount of time on the road.

    Not sure how long I'll keep on doing this sort of thing, and my young associate (who has been working with me 12 years now) is not so sure that he really wants to spend the rest of his life in a business that can wear you out this way and take you away from home for such long days.

    I need an epiphany...

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  • jbird604
    replied
    Thanks for the encouragement, everybody. I have certainly offered freely whatever advice and information I have given, and do not intend to drop out of the forum. I just felt like letting people know WHY they may not get a speedy response from me these days.

    About to head to the shop to meet with not one, but TWO potential organ buyers, and there are still two organs sitting in the shop awaiting final preparations before they can be delivered. Another organ needs to be readied for an impending major rental gig, and others need renovations -- some major and some minor -- to get them ready to offer to buyers.

    A number of very long service trips are on the calendar over the next month. It appears that the service situation is not getting any better in adjoining states, as we are receiving more and more calls to cross the state line. I used to do that gladly, often enjoying a foray into unfamiliar territory as a sightseeing expedition. But now I just think about how six to ten hours of time on the road is going to affect my painful knees and hip joints.

    All signs point to the need to retire, but then I don't know what I'd do with my time if I quit working. And I do enjoy the added income and the freedom it gives me to take a trip or two each year. Just don't know where this will all end up...

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  • Silken Path
    replied
    Work your fingers to the bone. What do you get?

    Bony fingers

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  • Organplayer66
    replied
    I have not been on here long but you have helped tremendously to me already ! Thank you for all you do !

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  • jbird604
    replied
    Thanks for the reminder, Admin. I have been telling folks who PM about technical issues to post on the forum, but now and then someone seems to not even know how to do that! In the future I will be even more emphatic about not giving technical advice in private messages.

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