Changes in Our Shipping Department

truck

Our inventory filled up this truck. Dang.

Starting immediately, all of our packages will be shipped out of our Fishers, Ind., warehouse – aka my partner John Hoffman’s garage. This change has some good points and bad points for you, which is why I’m writing this blog entry.

First the good stuff.

Shipping and customer service will be much faster. During the last 18 months, my family has been shipping all of the orders from our Kentucky home. It worked OK, but it required me to juggle packing boxes, editing books, building furniture, blogging, writing freelance magazine articles and a somewhat crazy travel and teaching schedule.

So we would sometimes get behind. And when we made a mistake or a book was damaged in transit, it took us a few days to fix the problem.

Hoffman and his family have more space to warehouse the books and more time to deal with shipping and customer service.

So not only will your books ship faster, I’ll have more time to write and edit, which means more new books from Lost Art Press.

The bad news is that – for now – I won’t be able to directly autograph all of my books that we sell. Instead, each book will have a bookplate (the publishing world’s name for a sticker) affixed to the inside that I’ve signed. Yeah, I know it’s not ideal. But it’s the best solution we have right now. My 2013 travel schedule is the most brutal one yet, and adding monthly trips to Indiana to sign books just simply isn’t going to work.

greenupThese changes – good and bad – are the result of the growth of Lost Art Press. When we started five years ago, we mailed out three or four books a day on average. Now we’re shipping out more than 12,000 books a year to customers and our handful of retailers. And that’s a really low estimate – I am a bit afraid to do the math.

During the next few years, we plan to purchase a building and consolidate all of our operations – building, publishing and shipping – under one roof. We’re actively looking for an old building with a storefront, warehouse and living quarters. (The photo shown here is one we looked at last week.) But we are taking our time, and we refuse to borrow money and saddle the company with debt. Our accountant thinks we are nuts not to get a mortgage, by the way, but I’ve seen too many publishing companies drown in debt service.

So thanks for your support – that’s why we are growing. And apologies in advance for the temporary and poopy bookplate solution.

— Christopher Schwarz

About lostartpress

Publisher of woodworking books and DVDs specializing in hand tool techniques.
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40 Responses to Changes in Our Shipping Department

  1. Fred L says:

    Another reason to sign up for one of Chris’ classes. He can autograph your books in person.

    • Joe M says:

      Instead of making monthly trips to Indiana, Just travel to the customers home and sign the books personally! Just think of the public relations angle!
      Maybe you would be invited in for a beer and the privlidge of helping sweep up the shop!
      Good idea right? I’ll put some beer in the fridge.

  2. Justin says:

    Yay! I wonder if I will get my stuff faster now that the LAP shipping department is almost within walking distance from my house? Hell I guess I could always just knock on John’s door and pick up my purchases. :)

  3. Jim Maher says:

    Hmmmm . . .

    If the books go directly from binder to John, you lose the oppotunity to do final qulaity control. Not good. Perhaps you should plan to see them (at least the initial shipment). When you do the “inspection”, sign 100.

    That also gives you and John more “face time”. Always a good thing with partners.

    • Arthur van der Harg says:

      “Qulaity control”? That’s where you make sure all spelling errors and misprints are present?

  4. John Cashman says:

    Does this mean I can get John Hoffman’s signature on my books? No offense, but in future generations your signature will be about as rare as pocket lint. But John Hoffman’s . . .

    That’s a very handsome building.

  5. Eric R says:

    I’m tired just from reading all your duties.
    You are going to wear yourself thin….oh, wait a minute…

  6. Marshal says:

    My hometown in very rural Minnesota has about 12 empty main street buildings sitting empty. They would pay you to take one!

    • robert says:

      Building on Marshal’s comment – all over the mid-west, at least in the areas where manufacturing has left, buildings are sitting empty. I know of one building (150,000 sq ft on three floors with shipping docks, etc.) that recently transferred for $100,000.00.

  7. Marlon says:

    This sounds great for you and your family. I’m puzzled why you haven’t started this earlier. Now I wish John good luck too.

  8. Mike Russo says:

    John is taking all the tarps, right?

  9. Tim Henriksen says:

    Headline: LAP Launches IPO To Speed Expansion
    Subheading: From Dutch Tool Chest to Dutch Auction

  10. Grumpy Badger says:

    That building is classic Cincinnati-area architecture, which is one of the reasons I ended up moving back to this area. So many beautiful buildings. Not necessarily large, grand ones. Everyday house and businesses that are just lovely. I wish we still built things that way.

    • Robb Lincoln says:

      No kidding–we had some fantastic old buildings like that in Seattle–but most didn’t survive the 90′s condo craze. :( Its a crying shame that the cost to build a new place like the one pictured here would bankrupt you’re garden variety sheik let alone a small startup.

  11. billlattpa says:

    I have to admit that building is pretty friggin cool. Looks like quite a few old buildings in my old neighborhood in Philly

  12. Patrick says:

    Congrats on your success.
    Cool building.
    Your accountant is correct.
    And a little tip: Location. Location. Location.
    (This tip ranks right up there with telling people to buy old hardware on ebay.) ;)

  13. ajgodet says:

    So glad things are going so well…I get a lot of joy and knowledge from the work at LAP and this blog. Best of luck with the continuing efforts!

  14. Dave says:

    John’s beer fridge in close proximity to the shipping department, Another well thought out advantage!

  15. That’s a great building. I ride my bike past there weekly out DeCoursey along the river and have always liked the windows on the second floor.

  16. sawdustmaker says:

    Your Success is due to the hard woirk of three people You, Your wife and John Hoffman. Congratulationsw on your success you deserve it. Q: are you determined to stay inyour local area. I would this the answer to this is yes due to your children’s educational needs. However, If you wnt to move to the Pacific Northwest I am sure there are many buildings and schools and houses around Port Townsend/ Seattle area.

    • lostartpress says:

      Bob,

      While I love the Port Townsend area, we are sticking here in Cincinnati — actually Covington, Ky., to be exact. My wife’s family lives here and they ran a small chain of family drug stores in the town up until the 1970s. We really want to “close the loop” so to speak and put the family business back there.

  17. Eric Erb says:

    33 books per day. averaged of course. i got two of yours for chirstmas, didn’t realize i was that good last year!

  18. George R. says:

    Since I can hardly wait for your “Furniture of Necessity” anything that frees up more of your time for writing is more than OK in my book (pun intended). I agree with others – that is one cool building.

  19. Brian Jackson says:

    Noblesville, IN right down the street from Fishers has some beutiful old buildings that might suit your needs.

  20. FIG Woodworks says:

    Does that mean you will start to ship overseas? Those that don’t live in the US miss out.

  21. Peter Oster says:

    Isn’t it a joy to be debt free. The company I worked for was debt free, paid cash and on time. 20 years from 1983 to 2003, no layoffs, no cuts and a at least some sort of raise every year. The owner died and within 5 years the new owners, who borrowed to buy, had cut the staff by 50% (40 people) because they weren’t “making it”.
    Find a new accountant.

  22. Niels says:

    Congrats on the growing pains! Movin’ on up!
    All the best for a health, happy prosperous new year for you and your family.

  23. Jonas Jensen says:

    What happened to that old brewery you were looking at once?
    That could also be a cool headquarter.

    • lostartpress says:

      Jonas,

      That building was fantastic, and only $99,000. The basement was an amazing stone structure.

      But there were too many odd things about it — old lagering tunnels that went somewhere… but no one knows where. The roof was crap.

      I was all for it. My wife – not so much.

  24. Jonas Jensen says:

    WOW, secret tunnels going somewhere..
    I guess I would have the same issue with my wife. Women sometimes fail to see the possibilities in strange things like that.
    But then again, I know what its like with a crappy roof.

    • lostartpress says:

      The tunnels were only the beginning. The building had two sub-basements below the basement that were flooded with water. The first sub-basement was filled with printing equipment. The second one the scuba-diver could not wiggle into. Crazy.

      I loved it.

  25. Runningwood says:

    Why living quarters ? Would you move your family out of the house into the building ?

  26. SharwnR says:

    Chris,

    Keep up the path you are on. Your posts show a lot of knowledge of woodworking yes, but it has such great examples oh how the modern generation should live!

    What a novel idea:
    1. build a business
    2. involve your family in the business
    3. bootstrap it and fake it till you make it
    4. grow slowly
    5. englarge the fan base
    6. stay debt free
    7. keep growing!

    The way you have built your business over the last few years would have failed any MBA project yet it works, and works well. I tip my hat to you good sir. I hope others read and follow this blog and pull the life lessons from what you write.

    Jim Rohn has a good quote: One discipline affects another discipline.
    I have taken so much from the woodworking community and applied to general life situations and they have worked well.

    Cheers

  27. Shawn G says:

    That is one sexy looking building!

  28. John Orear says:

    watching your progress is great……have a great new year……say close to your customers….and closer to you family…..

  29. abtuser says:

    I sure hope John and his family also find a house. Living out of a truck and garage must be tough.

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