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Finding work, what am I missing? Full disclosure

mac13

Cast Iron
Joined
Aug 8, 2006
Location
Northeast Florida
First the full disclosure part.
I have been a member of this forum for 18 years, although its been a while since I was active.
I'm 65, a retired, disabled vet, collecting SS with an annual income limit of $21k. I've never worked in a machine shop or have been paid as a machinist. I moved from NJ to FL (just outside of Jax) 5 years ago and built my retirement shop.

My shop is all manual machines with the exception of a 5x12 plasma table. I have a Bridgeport, Monarch 10EE, Pacemaker 14x54, B&S horizontal mill, 5 drill presses ( the largest is a DoAll DTR28), small surface grinder, vertical and horizontal band saws, hydraulic sheet metal sheer, break, notcher, hydraulic tube bender, Mig, Tig, Stick welders up to 300 amps, and various grinders and support machinery. All of my machines are well tooled and I'm proficient in using them.

Circumstances beyond my control require me to need additional monthly income and $400-$600 a week would suit my needs.

I spent my entire life in various parts of marine industries and quite frankly I'm totally burned out in the marine industry and if I went back there it wouldn't be good for me or the clients.

I'm trying to generate my needed income from my shop. I spent about 3 months making a minimum of 3 personal cold calls each week, stopping in shops and introducing myself and my shop, and handing out cards to just about anyplace that I thought might be able to use the services that I can provide with no luck. I have done a few jobs that I got through word of mouth and only one repeat customer that I bore and bush hydraulic cylinders for but that is like a once every 6 weeks kind of job. Craigslist is dead and FB marketplace is filled with morons.

What am I missing in trying to find work? I don't need 40 hours a week in the shop but 8-10 hours would be a game changer for me.
I could clean shitters a Buc-cee's for $23 and hour but that's a last resort.

I'd appreciate any advice.
 
I hate posting on these, it's always depressing:(
Economy is slow everywhere currently, everyone's wait'n for the crash, maybe:confused:

Without CNC's, manual only shop, I mostly see the bulk of their work in larger mostly, but repair work locally.
Most people I know with a machine shop started with word of mouth customers, and get the bulk from word of mouth.

Makes me wonder with that how many of these handful of shops a week that start up, at what rate they are going under also.
Feel bad for some peeps try'n to live a dream.

Machine shop business is a shit business in general also, not universal, but in general.

I think trying to get your own products out there is another diversified step to multiple streams of income,
usually these successful products are based around hobbies, so get to think'n.

with multiple streams of income is the main stream now, I saw a video on 'the death of the 9 to 5' , interesting.

Good Luck:cheers:
 
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Sounds like a well setup shop as late as 1985. Much later and you are gitt'n left behind.

However, in the 21st century, what you have a decent repair shop.
Maybe go to anywhere that repairs stuff.
Ag dealers?
Motor (electric) rebuilders. (depending on size of your lathe)
Maybe hit up the maintenance man at the factories, not the purchasing agent.
Try to slide in the back door and ask for someone from Maintenance?

I just don't see you getting anywhere via the front door with that set-up.
At least not the machining stuff... Now the fab stuff, maybe....


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I am Ox and I approve this here post!
 
I would say the most marketable skill and machines you have are the welders. Lots of guys need a little welding from time to time to fix things, mount a trailer hitch, etc. Market your welding skills and that will lead to jobs for your other machines.
 
To be brutally honest, if I were looking for a shop to send work to I would not pick a shop run by a retiree looking for only 10 hours a week of work. In my experience, machine shops require total commitment.

You could advertise for automotive style work where you deck off engine blocks and the like. I get phone inquiries for that sort of thing every month. I can't give much advice since I don't have a single manual mill or lathe in my shop.
 
To get started you need to be prepared to do maintenance work ,shop and onsite.......No one else wants to do it ......There is also a 'bad area' .....all retired and houses replaced industry .........where I started was like this .....in 1970 ,the meatworks,cigarette factory,sawmill ,lots of small manufacture .......in 20 years the meatworks and ciggie factory all went for housing estates ,small factories closed and more housing.......no local work at all.
 
Any Live Steam railroad clubs in the area? Live steamers are usually machinists by necessity.
Or maybe engineers (pocket protector kind, along with striped overall kind) And those that are machinists,
may know other machinists (or engineers) that work in plants or maintenance
departments. With your gear, maintenance and repair departments are probably your initial target
prospects. Live steamers can be really cheap, because they've spent their fortunes on their trains.
I wouldn't think you'd get much 'work' from the hobby part of it. And they have or know people that
have machine shop tools. They can also be stand off-ish, so you might need to put repeat effort into
your talks with them.
 
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Sounds like small repair work is about all you could do with those machines.

2020-2022 I'd say you could make $10k+ a month with those machines and a lot of manual skill.

These days I'd say you'd be lucky to average $1000/mo.

Big exception would be if you have a geographically captive customer like a mine or factory you cater to.

One suggestion would be to make a nice website that draws local customers with a pin on Google maps and advertise for real. If this is residential and you're violating zoning then forget all that.
 
You might talk to established machine shops that routinely turn away work because it's work they don't want to fool with. If they are a fully equipped CNC shop, they're making their money on long runs or intricate parts and cannot justify doing small, simple walk in jobs. Stress to them you are not the competition and just want/need a few hundred extra dollars a week. They may tell you to get lost or they may help by steering their unwanted work your way. Worth a try.
 
There's a few fabrication shops near me and none of them will touch even basic machining work so are happy to sub out. I used to knock up a lot of pins, spacers etc along with skimming plates and putting weld preps on stuff. There was a lot of work but it was generally low paying, low tolerance work and always needed in a hurry so as I got busier with higher paying machining jobs I started knocking them back. Another option could be laser / plasma places. I've not yet found one who offers second op work so if you want a chamfer or a couple of tapped holes then you're doing them yourself. Not sure if they would be willing to sub the work but it would be worth an ask.
 
First the full disclosure part.
I have been a member of this forum for 18 years, although its been a while since I was active.
I'm 65, a retired, disabled vet, collecting SS with an annual income limit of $21k. I've never worked in a machine shop or have been paid as a machinist. I moved from NJ to FL (just outside of Jax) 5 years ago and built my retirement shop.

My shop is all manual machines with the exception of a 5x12 plasma table. I have a Bridgeport, Monarch 10EE, Pacemaker 14x54, B&S horizontal mill, 5 drill presses ( the largest is a DoAll DTR28), small surface grinder, vertical and horizontal band saws, hydraulic sheet metal sheer, break, notcher, hydraulic tube bender, Mig, Tig, Stick welders up to 300 amps, and various grinders and support machinery. All of my machines are well tooled and I'm proficient in using them.

Circumstances beyond my control require me to need additional monthly income and $400-$600 a week would suit my needs.

I spent my entire life in various parts of marine industries and quite frankly I'm totally burned out in the marine industry and if I went back there it wouldn't be good for me or the clients.

I'm trying to generate my needed income from my shop. I spent about 3 months making a minimum of 3 personal cold calls each week, stopping in shops and introducing myself and my shop, and handing out cards to just about anyplace that I thought might be able to use the services that I can provide with no luck. I have done a few jobs that I got through word of mouth and only one repeat customer that I bore and bush hydraulic cylinders for but that is like a once every 6 weeks kind of job. Craigslist is dead and FB marketplace is filled with morons.

What am I missing in trying to find work? I don't need 40 hours a week in the shop but 8-10 hours would be a game changer for me.
I could clean shitters a Buc-cee's for $23 and hour but that's a last resort.

I'd appreciate any advice.
Since you have a manual shop for the most part, have you talked to any garages around town? Drilling out broken bolts, turning rotors, and other repair type stuff could get you in the door.
 
I've never worked in a machine shop or have been paid as a machinist. I moved from NJ to FL (just outside of Jax) 5 years ago and built my retirement shop.
This part I don't understand, no actual machine shop related employment yet you built what seems like a very well equipped manual shop. What was your intention in setting up that shop?

You might skip that full disclosure when approaching a potential customer. Myself, I'd much rather hear that you were retired and wanting supplemental income. Given your shop let the customer make the reasonable assumption you worked in a machine shop or as a machinist.

Could there be a problem with your "sales" approach? Are you a good salesman? So often we see these "how to get work" questions. Being a good machinist is not enough to be successful in this business, being a good salesman is equally important. Sometimes a little BS can help in sales to get your foot in the door.
 
I'm just a little one man shop and focus on quick turnaround work. My favorite thing is when my customers need something yesterday. I do a good bit of re-work to existing parts, such as design changes or just plain incorrect parts. There's a lot of work that I do that is WAY faster doing on a manual than setting up my CNC. Sure hope this helps you even if it's just a little bit.
 
Im not familiar with the area, but dont overlook bottling companies, manufactures with conveyor lines etc. Its not unusual for them to need some pin or bushing, or bearing bore etc ASAP. Stuff shops like mine hate, are perfect for you. Be prepared to jump when they say jump, 24/7.

Cold calling is the worst and I feel for you.
 
@mac13
Having done this for a while, I can say that you're in a good position to do what you would like.
Website? I had mine done for about $1500 and it's done well for me.
800 phone? Grasshopper is $10/month.
Business cards? The office supply store or online like Vista or Moo can crank some out for $100. These are a VERY long loved form of advertising.
Cold calling in person? This ALWAYS worked for me. Set aside one or two days a month and drive around with some biz cards and a notebook.
Social media? Especially for a Disabled Vet, this can be a real asset.
Ideas - food processing companies, print shops, bottling companies, dairy equipment, farm equipment, speed shops (people love to go fast), packaging equipment companies (BIG buyers of machined parts), corrugated companies, paper mills, water purification companies, etc.
 
Do any of your contacts in the marine industry need maintenance/repair machining? Marine industry is pretty vague could be pleasure craft or could be tugs ships or fishing. I would think all of the above need machining and have room for products. Not sure I would want to crank out a product on a manual machine but Cnc plasma could be used for fancy signs etc.
 
Wow, thanks for all the replies.

The full disclosure part was for you guys and not for potential customers.
I spent 45 years in various facets of the marine industry from regulatory government agency, commercial ship building and repair, to owning a recreational boat and motor dealership. I am totally burned out with things that float and have propellers and don't even get me started on the ones that have sails.

My shop is on 10 acres in a rural location about 30 miles from Jacksonville. This shop was indeed built to be my hobby shop. I like to build cool toys and that requires making parts that don't exist, hence my manual shop.
My only repeat customer is a construction company that has its own equipment repair facility with no machine shop.

Welding around here is a race to the bottom. Too many guys driving around with a gas drive machine in the back of a pick up trying to under bid the next guy, no thanks.

Engine machine work requires specialized machines and trying to do engine work on standard manual machines just doesn't work. I can't remember the last time I've seen anyone turn a rotor.

Thanks for the tip about the fab shops, there are several around here and most of them don't have machining capabilities, I'll need to visit them and see if there is any opportunities there.
The only job shop around here is almost an hour drive, their well established and have a loyal customer base.
I guess I just need to keep pounding the pavement and knocking on doors.
 








 
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