by G Geoff Langridge
We have a Plan …
… actually, a very good Plan for where we want to go and what we intend to achieve.
To grow; to upgrade and expand; to provide products and services you can’t get elsewhere.
Custom Hobby Decals (“CHD”) has been operating now for over 7.5 years.
We started out specifically to cater for once-off custom decals for Hobbyists.
In later years we then expanded that to include a limited number of Off-The-Shelf (“OTS”) products (ie products available ex-stock), many of which proved to be quite popular (eg Mephisto, Bismarck, Tirpitz, Bell X-1).
In November 2018, we launched our CHD eBay Store which currently has 50+ products available … with many more to follow in the very near future.
During those 7.5 years we have built a reputation for providing high-quality artwork and decals printed on premium-grade waterslide and vinyl media.
It is our aim and intention to build on that reputation, with the goal of being one of the leading suppliers worldwide for Custom, OTS and OEM decal products for Hobbyists and Wargamers.
When we were originally preparing this Campaign, the primary purpose to raise funds to cover the purchase of an additional (2nd) printer.
But things have moved on and in late May, as a matter of survival, we found no choice but to replace our 15 month old Mimaki CJV300-130 with a Roland VG2-540 + refurbishing our old Roland VS-420 printer.
The benefit of the two printers is that the VG2 provides for high-quality volume printing using the latest technology (we have the first VG2 in Australia with white ink) and support for a wide-range of file formats, whilst the our VS printer is a proven performer for very high quality and, more importantly, a wide range of metallic colours. And two printers provide for both an increasing workload and redundancy against maintenance outages.
But this came at the same time as we are diversifying from a primary focus on custom decals to encompass more stock products and OEM services.
The change in focus is in response to demand from ‘you’, our clients for these other products and additional types of media.
But having to replace the Mimaki printer has caused has left us with a significant cashflow issue.
Quite simply, it appears that Sue and I do _not_ have sufficient funds to keep Custom Hobby Decals whilst we resolve finish installing and commission the Roland printers, rework all our printing workflow, bring new and existing products to market, and so on.
Whilst we have been trading profitably this year (according to our Accountant and the ATO), we have some sizable annual and other expenses in the near future – software subscriptions, new media purchases, et al.
At the very least we need sufficient funds to keep all expenses paid whilst we re-organise things and increase our trading income through non-custom decal sales.
Particularly as our services are more in demand than ever before.From all around the world.
Well, to be blunt, first Susan and I won’t have to find somewhere else to live.
And ‘Custom Hobby Decals’ will continue to live, grow and expand … providing services to Hobbyists and others. Providing services to you.
AND … everyone that helps us will receive an additional 30% to 50% Credit (a ‘Return On Investment’ if you like) to spend on decal products over the next 12 months:
A. Existing Off-The-Shelf decal sets
– such as those we already sell via our CHD eBay Store or our current website;
B. New Off-The-Shelf decal sets
– based both on our existing Artwork Library or current / existing planning for
products people have already requested.
C. Custom-print decal sets (conditions apply)
– from either client-provided artwork or artwork we develop for a client.
NOTE: Your Reward Credit can not be used for artwork development,
whether custom development of new artwork or modification of existing artwork.
Nor can you use your Reward Credit in addition to already discounted pricing offered to
certain Clients (eg OEM, VIP, Volume Discount).
Reward decals will be available from October 2019 and _should_ be redeemed by 30 June 2020 (We’re not going to be absolutely sticky about the end-date, but ‘indefinitely’ isn’t an option).
The range and type of Clients – and the decals they require – have changed significantly since we originally started.
When we started out, all we needed to do was how to print on clear waterslide media …
Where once the requirement was for reasonable quality decals on waterslide media, we now need to provide products on clear waterslide; clear or white or reflective gold or reflective silver vinyl, and occasionally painting stencils. In everything from Full Size to 1/2400-scale.
Then there are those that want us to print flags and banners on paper media!
The list of different media continues to grow.
And the nature of the media continues to evolve. Where once we used 70 micron clear vinyl, our latest clear vinyl is a very supple, conformable 30 micron media. Quite a significant advance!
The range and type of Clients have changed also.
Where once our Clients were simply Hobbyists that required ‘something special’, we now have Hobbyists, Wargamers, Retail, Commercial, Governmental and Educational entities all requiring an ever-increasing range of decal and sticker products.
This image of a vinyl sticker for the front cover of a range of books by one client.
And the type of products has changed. Where once all we did was design-n-print custom decals, we now are asked more and more for a wide-range of:
* Design-n-print custom decals;
* Print-only decals using client artwork;
* Stock products that no-one else is doing;
* Replacement decals for other manufacturer’s decals that are no longer available;
* OEM print services;
Clients wish us to print from a wide range of file formats (eg vector = .AI .CDR .SVG; raster = .BMP .JPG most .PDF …); and
Not only do we need to print standard CMYK colours, but White and Metallic colours.
The technical requirements to do all this, software and physical equipment required, is both quite significant and continues to evolve.
And there is an increasing number of clients worldwide looking for someone (anyone!) who can now make decals for them … because their existing decal manufacture has died (eg Rob Horton of Wessex Transfers), retired or otherwise shutdown their business (eg their ALPS printer died).
And, to be honest, making custom decals is both time-consuming and ‘not cheap’.
CHD is therefore one of the very few suppliers worldwide that continues to design and/or print ‘once-off’ decals for clients – particularly those that require WHITE and/or METALLIC colours … in particularly decals that are printed to a full high-quality professional standard (not lower-quality from an ALPS or CMYW laser printer).
When we moved to Beachmere nearly 2 years ago, we thought we’d have 12 months to get fully established, properly operational and profitable. And we had specific funds available and allocate for us to do so.
Instead, in February 2018 our Roland VS printer suffered a catastrophic failure and the best advice was to replace it.
Those that follow our CHD Facebook page would know that we purchased a Mimaki CJV300-130 printer some 15 months ago … and that it has suffered certain significant and specific issues since the day it was delivered. Quite simply, whilst I think the CJV can be a good printer for many print-shops, our experience is that it is not suitable for us, for what we need and want to do.
This inability has caused significant damage to CHD, our reputation and our ability to survive and grow … despite an increasing number of requests we are receiving from clients.
To remain viable, we had to have a printer that is reliable and capable of meeting our specific printing requirements and, with very few options available, we opted to purchase one of Roland’s just released “VG2” printer/cutters and have our old Roland VS-420 refurbished.
Another challenge is to diversify our product range. We originally setup to provide a custom decal service. That has and continues to evolve into also providing an extensive range of Off-The-Shelf products … products that no-one else does (or is willing to).
And with the death of the ALPS printer, there are an increasing number of small manufacturers looking for someone (anyone!) that can print small production runs of decals at an affordable price.
We also receive an increasing number of requests to reproduce decals from years gone by … not just ‘hobby decals’ for an old model, but to help restore toys last manufactured 50 or 60 years ago, or motor-bikes, or unique vintage cars, or …
But the last 18 months – setting-up again in Beachmere, the death of the VS printer, the issues with the Mimaki CJV printer – has taken a significant personal toll on both Sue and I.
So the final challenge, if you will, is for Sue and I to have sufficient time to recover without having to worry about ‘can we pay for this’ each and every day / week / month.
The idea for CHD originated during a trip to Brisbane in 2005, when someone turned to me and said “You know all about (digital) printers – why don’t you figure out how to digitally print waterslide decals?”This was just after the demise of the ALPS printer had been announced.
And so it began – years of part-time research into available print technologies, techniques, products and suppliers … which eventually resulted in 2012 the business that became “Custom Hobby Decals”.
But why continue? Why not stop, spend some time to look around at the world and ‘smell the flowers’?
Ummm … partly a matter of ‘what do I do for the next 20 years after I’ve done that?’ Not exactly a ‘flip’ answer – there is a good element of truth there. But not the whole truth.
The fact is:
* We provide products and – more importantly – a service the very few others can, much less do;
* We help make people’s dreams come true;
* I enjoy doing that.
So – yes – Sue and I’d like to continue doing just that.
Despite everything – all the time wasted; all the ink, media and other consumables; the distraction; not being able to print a significant section of our product-range; the mental toll it has taken on Susan and I – despite everything … CHD has managed to operate profitably during the past 6 – 9 months.
The CHD eBay Store in particular has proven to be very popular.
And – I believe – it can do so on an ongoing, long-term basis …if we are given the opportunity to do so.
The issues we have faced since February 2018 have resulted in CHD currently being in a fairly precarious financial position.
We *may* be able to trade our way out of this, with the Roland printers now installed (the VG2 is not yet fully operational … still some ‘teething issues’ still being sorted out).
BUT … there is a distinct risk that there is not enough time to do that.
We need to raise sufficient funds – RIGHT NOW – to provide sufficient time and resources for us to recover … and implement our Plan for long-term survival and growth.
As mentioned, we have a Plan:
* Raise sufficient funds to survive for the next 4 – 6 months;
* Put new and additional graphic artist resources in place;
* Use our existing Library of some 3,000 items ot artwork to develop a significant range of
new and additional products.
(Many of these are already in progress, some just waiting on listing for sale via eBay)
* Develop and enhance our OEM Print Service for small-to-medium manufacturers.
* Further develop and improve our ‘backend’ CRM & Admin to support the above;
We have a VERY LIMITED TIMEFRAME to obtain funding, so please act *right now* to help fund us.
Otherwise we _will_ shutdown … and I will be forced to go find a nice beach somewhere to sit on and watch the surf … day after day after (boring) day.
We are already making payments on the new Roland VG2 and refurbished VS printers.
Then there are other operational expenses, like ink, media, software, power & lighting, insurance, meetings and exhibitions to attend …
So, we need to raise sufficient funds to cover all of these expenses for at least the next 3 – 4 (and preferably 4 – 6) months:
a) If we don’t raise even $5,000:
Basically, that’s it – CHD is finished. And we sell our house.
b) If we only raise $5,000:
This would address our immediate cashflow issue and maybe provide enough time to
re-establish proper cashflow over the next 4 – 6 months. More likely, we would
struggle and but could then easily still fail;
c) If we raise $10,000:
This is likely ‘a good minimum amount’ required for us to meet all our expenses over
the next 4 – 6 months whilst we re-organise and stablise everything for long-term
It would also provide funds to train an additional graphic artist(s); to enable the
development of additional products from our current database of ~3,000 items of
artwork (products which, in turn, would provide additional income);
d) If we raise $20,000:
In addition to (c), this would provide funds to develop, enhance and automate our
backend infrastructure to better support increased operations; and funds to market
existing and new products to a wider audience;
e) If we raise $38,500:
Not only would this provide for (c) & (d), it would provide time and funds to properly
market and grow our OEM Print Services.
This will provide small-to-medium size manufacturers access to affordable high-quality
low-volume production services. It would mean a LOT more product would be
available to hobbyists in general.
The advantage of OEM printing is that, whilst there is a lower profit-per-printed-page, it
is artwork that simply comes in, gets checked, and is printed – packaged – shipped.
It doesn’t take many such jobs each month to cover ongoing expenses.
1. Artwork preparation
The more artwork we can prepare, the more products will be available … and sooner …
for people to redeem as Benefits;
Key to our further success is the marketing of products and services to both existing
and customers, be they hobbyists, wargamers, OEM, …
3. Development of our OEM program
Which will significantly underwrite the cost of ongoing operations, and therefore
enhance our ability to provide custom services;
4. Ancillary development projects
New types of media, changes / improvements to our website, infrastructure, etc.
Actually, we hope that we WILL raise more than the requested $38,000.
If we are that successful, funds will not simply be dissipated through frivolous spending – they will be placed in an offset account to further reduce ongoing operational expenses.
Indeed, exceeding our Goal will only help – not hinder – us in fulfilling our Plan.
In the first instance, funds raised will be kept in a separate account to our normal operational account. Thus we will only be drawing on funds as and when needed in excess to our normal income.
Secondly – worst case – we have physical assets well in excess of proposed funding.
(Why don’t you use those assets to fund things now? – because they are the same assets that are essential to operating the business!)
The ‘worst case’ position is that you receive would a refund (ie you get your money back)
We are planning to make decal products available for redemption in mid-to-late October 2019.
Subscribers will be eligible to receive Benefits by way of:
But we estimate that by November 2019 we should have at least 500 decals sets listed for sale via our eBay Store, covering aircraft, armor, boats, cars (eg Falcon and Holden), trains, trucks, graffiti, wargaming … and more.
There truly should be “something for anyone | something for everyone”.
There are a number of projects currently stalled due to over-commitment of time and existing funds. Projects such as:
* significant number and variety of various Australian Truck decals;
* ‘Trucks in Movies’ (eg ‘Big Trouble in Little China’);
* P-51D and CAC Mustang Decals
* F-16 and US / Japanese Black Hawk Helicopter decals;
* Wargaming decals;
We have been spending over $1,000.00 each month on artwork preparation.We hope to have sufficient funds to significantly increase the current monthly spend on artwork … to the benefit of everyone.
A limited number of EARLY BIRD SPECIALS are offered for the $100 and $50 Benefit packages.
These offer increased value as they include a Bonus uplift of 50%, instead of the standard 30%.
So … please pledge early!! To *your* benefit!