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What’s the longest you’ve ever been “slow”?

About 8 months in 2020. Had a few good years then 3rd Quarter 2023 went to crap. This year super slow too so far. Its back to just me now, went from 6 employees to none. Rented shop space to my brother and sold him 2 of my machines and leasing another to him. I will run out the rest of this year then sell the rest off. Having a house built in the Ozarks on 224ac, no wife and youngest kid is 17yo, so this is it, out of the business and retiring at 50yo. Time to raise a few cattle, hunt and grow stuff.

It has been an interesting ride, but not a fun one.
 
About 8 months in 2020. Had a few good years then 3rd Quarter 2023 went to crap. This year super slow too so far. Its back to just me now, went from 6 employees to none. Rented shop space to my brother and sold him 2 of my machines and leasing another to him. I will run out the rest of this year then sell the rest off. Having a house built in the Ozarks on 224ac, no wife and youngest kid is 17yo, so this is it, out of the business and retiring at 50yo. Time to raise a few cattle, hunt and grow stuff.

It has been an interesting ride, but not a fun one.

Sort of what I did, moved 6 hours away from where I lived my whole life, and into the woods with acreage, but brought a couple machines with me.
 
Went without taking a paycheck from for two years from sometime in 08 to late 2010, 2018 to 2019 was real slow also.
It teaches you to put some ( most of ) your earnings away for the lean times. The Gardner Business index for machining has been below 50 since October 2022.
I am surprised it stayed busy as long as it did.
 
A lot of guys are 35-45 years in this biz and are looking for an exit. They are all tired and ready to relax. Jobs will need to find new homes and my suggestion is to keep plugging away at it if you plan to continue with this trade and you will stay busy.
I hadn’t thought of how all the retirements could benefit us younger owner/operators. The optimism is appreciated.
 
The cold calls from dealers just keeps on comin'..............some MTB brands I have never inquired about..................they sure must want to move iron.
Got an email from Okuma last week.
MB4000H horizontal with 64 tool mag and tool breakage detection.
List price $290k. On sale for $198k.

Maybe I shoulda waited a bit before pulling the trigger on my M660VB...
 
beginning of '20 when covid hit we watched a 6 month backlog of work disappear and all get cancelled in 48 hrs.....you want to talk about getting shell shocked. we were lucky enough to be diverse and have a couple different divisions and some work that kept us afloat but 2 main revenue streams dried up or disappeared and took over a year to start showing signs of coming back.

sometimes i wonder how we are still standing....but everyone knows this line of work isn't for the faint of heart
 
I hadn’t thought of how all the retirements could benefit us younger owner/operators. The optimism is appreciated.
They were saying the same thing 20 years ago when I got into this, all the demand there was gonna be in the trades with all the boomers retiring in the next 5 years, hasn't happened yet and wages for most trades are still at basic survival level and starting at a dollar more than serving coffee.

There'll be some extra demand for us who survive after all those who can't service their debt are wiped out though.
 
Unfortunately, the economy has to suffer a recession to get this maddening inflation under control.

Minimize debt, minimize overhead, operate as lean as possible, keep existing machines plugging along, search for deals on materials and tooling, cut the guy's hours back, start beating the bushes and making phone calls. Work on ideas for products too.

All the shops touting "$100+ per hour" rates might have to rethink their accounting. For 2-axis turning and 3- & 4-axis milling, there's a ton of shops that can operate for a lot less than that, especially in the low-cost south.

The 5-axis craze makes sense for parts that actually require it, and justifies big shop rates. But parts that can be produced on standard VMC's that are being ran on 5-axis (because that's what all the builders are telling shops to do), may be priced so high the 5-axis shop might lose the work.

ToolCat
 
The shop I worked at as my first job 7 years ago is still around, and they've been slow for years before I even started.

They own the land, building, and all equipment. They make just enough to cover payroll every month and will probably continue to do so for a few years until the last people retire.
 
First Time in 8 years where it feels like I am not "running and rushing" to just keep up with what comes through the door.
I do some heavy haul trucking for local excavators... they are set to have a record year.... mostly commercial building projects.
I wanted to add on to the shop this year but I don't think it will happen.
 
Got an email from Okuma last week.
MB4000H horizontal with 64 tool mag and tool breakage detection.
List price $290k. On sale for $198k.

Maybe I shoulda waited a bit before pulling the trigger on my M660VB...
Who is your dealer? I would have thought my dealer would have been trying to sell me on those.
 
Who is your dealer? I would have thought my dealer would have been trying to sell me on those.
Thomas Skinner in BC. https://www.thomasskinner.com/promotions/
They have an M560 down at $98k again too.
I was looking for a mill for 8 years and I've never seen used or new dealers this hungry.

Edit: Also they're going to be rolling out the new control on all those machines in the next year. I imagine Okuma is desperate to get rid of all the old controllers because they'll never sell them once the new fancy one is sitting beside it.
 
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Got an email from Okuma last week.
MB4000H horizontal with 64 tool mag and tool breakage detection.
List price $290k. On sale for $198k.

Maybe I shoulda waited a bit before pulling the trigger on my M660VB...
Pricing on that could be exacerbated by the current landscape of the machine market: people don't want horizontals anymore, and for those that do, 64 tools and two pallets isn't going to cut it. Automation is mandatory.

DMG Mori's DMU machines are significantly outselling their NHX horizontals, and the gap will only widen from here on out.
 
Why don't people want horizontals anymore?


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Think Snow Eh!
Ox
Cost of the machines themselves, for one reason? Also if a shop isn't capable of making their own tombstones and such, all that gets mighty pricey if you have to buy it.

Also, the complexity of multiple pallets holding multiple parts requires a level-or-two better operators and programmers...which are very hard to come by these days!

ToolCat
 








 
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