Archive for November, 2007

Factory Conditions

November 29, 2007

Since 1998 I have been traveling to Model Factories throughout China, Taiwan, and Viet Nam. I’ve heard of the horror stories about fabric sweatshops, child labor, factories that look like internment camps, and even here on WordPress there are articles about HORRIBLE conditions at factories around the world.

And even in the Hobby Industry, I’ve heard of modelers making snotty comments about having children build the models, etc…

So, ever since that first trip, I’ve looked at each factory, toured the facilities, and toured the facilities of factories near our own. There’s a few interesting things I found about OUR factories.

1. The working conditions are typically very clean, very safe, and always exceed the local and national standards. Some factories even have government employees inspecting the factories (much like Cal/OSHA) does looking for problems.

2. The factories typically work a standard 40 hour work week or they have a full month off for new year (Chinese Lunar New Year) in addition to all the regular holidays. The factories are ghost towns on their normal days off.

3. Workers are reworded for working at the factories for longer periods of time. Many factories pay 2-3 times the going local wage because painting, building models, covering, etc. is skilled labor. Not just anyone can do it.

4. The workers are making well above minimum wage, get room and board in many cases, have standard national health care, and are not forced to work. In fact many factories have trouble keeping employees because the factories are being built at such a fast rate product and job openings out perform available workers in many areas which drives pay rates UP, not down!

5. No Children work at our factories, PERIOD. It’s not legal there, it’s not moral, and none of the factories we work with would ever do something so horrible.

So when you hear alarmist stories, these are NOT the norm, these are NOT common, and they are NOT to be found anywhere in our hobby industry that I’ve ever seen.

This is a subject that has always bugged me. The factories we deal with are run by really nice people who simply would NEVER do these horrible things to another human being. EVER.

OK, I feel better. I’ve got that off my chest!

Mike 

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Developing New Products – Installment 1

November 26, 2007

I get a lot of questions about what we do when we bring in a new proprietary item. Here at Global, we essentially have 3 types of “proprietary” products.

For this first installment, we’ll talk about what I call an “Agency”. In this example we are simply the importer and service center for the item. What this means is the product is represented by us, but we did not participate in the development. A lot like domestic buying, we can inform the company about our customers and what they request but we really can’t affect the factory very much. The good news is these products are quick to market because they’ve already been flown or used by their agents throughout the world. (Sort of like a Chevy Dealership.. they don’t really get to tell GM what to make, but then again, they don’t have to spend any time on development, that’s GM’s job). Agencies come and go according to how well that company responds to customer’s demand.

One company that has so far turned out to be a tremendous “agency” for us is Vinh Quang RC Models (formerly VQ). Vinh Quang Models is a line of very nice sport ARF’s that range in size from very small and affordable electrics on up to some nice twins. However, they are most famous for their 40 and 60 size warbirds (which can today be flown electric or glow).

 Vinh Quang models are made by the Vinh Quang family in Viet Nam. They are a very small family run company. As most companies in Viet Nam, they are very resourceful because almost NOTHING is easily available there. In the USA, we just pick up a Source Book and “blam” we can get anything we want. In Viet Nam sourcing of every single material and part is difficult to almost impossible. There’s hard work in every metal clevis, nut, bolt and wheel in each of those planes.

 But that’s not what makes them cool. What makes them cool is that each one has a printed surface with tons of detail from weathering to panel lines. There are even painted pilots included which really makes the model have that “finished” look. Inside, you’ll find fiberglass cowls, all high-quality laser cut wood airframes, and even some good hardware like metal clevises. In all, they are nice kits that look good in the air.

 The other great thing about VQ is that they are not afraid to try different models. They have enough agents throughout the world that they can take risks, knowing that at least one agent in one country somewhere will buy enough planes to make the effort worthwhile. So, you see the line not only has Me-109’s and Mustang P-51D’s, but also B model Mustangs, Hawker Hurricanes, and coming soon Heinkels and Focke Wulfs.

The only downside to this line is that the directions are a little sparse. But since they are intended for more experienced modelers for the most part, the sparse directions are “ok”. In the future, we’ll be trying to work with them to make the directions more complete.

This brings us to Installment 2 I’ll post soon, the “partial” Agency where even though we’re technically an “agent”, we’re so much more ACTIVE!!!

Along the way, if you have any questions, please let me know!

 Mike Greenshields  

Happy Thanksgiving

November 22, 2007

Hi Everyone! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day today. I was on vacation last week and so there were no new posts. A lot is going on this Holiday Season so they’ll be new posts next week!

 Enjoy the day with your family and friends, or at least a good time watching some great Thanksgiving Day football!

 Mike

Scale Squadron – Why Clubs are Good for the Hobby

November 13, 2007

Scale Squadron MeetingScale Squadron LogoI was invited to speak at the Scale Squadron meeting last night. http://www.scalesquadron.com/

I showed the ASM A-26 Invader, the Model Tech Super Cub, the Flit, the RDS8000 radio along with some 94162Z servos, KMS motors, Impulse Batteries (from inside my A-26) and even some Thunderbolt 4Stroke Glow Plugs. The guys at the club seemed to like the products! There was a lot of interest in all of the planes.

Through what came to mind is how we as a hobby sometimes forget how great clubs can be and how important they are to the hobby’s health. Here’s a group of guys who love aviation in all its forms, promote the hobby to the local community through all kinds of events from programs like Toys-For-Tots, to different kids groups, to schools, and share their modeling techniques and ideas. These are not selfish people. They love their hobby AND they sure want to share it with others. Beginners to experts, most clubs embrace just about anyone who wants to fly model airplanes.

Online these days I see so many people posting about how they would never join a club, don’t like rules, etc. That’s OK I guess, but remember, when you join a club, they’ve usually made those rules at the flying field to make the field safe for all members. And really, if you’re not sure you like the rules, get involved! Volunteer for the special events, get on the board, etc.

In all this babbling, what I’m trying to say is that the Hobby isn’t just airplanes. It’s clubs, social events, club meetings, fly-ins, contests, charity events, etc. It is PEOPLE. It’s a community that may have some ups and downs, but you just never know what you’ll learn, who you’ll meet, and in the end you’ll probably makes some good friends too1

Oh, and while you’re there, you might actually learn something that will make your hobby and passion for model airplanes even more enjoyable.

So, if you’re a lone-wolf flyer, that’s great, but still.. you might want to check out your local club too.

Tombstone

November 8, 2007

The OK CorralTombstone AZ 1When you grow up in Orange County, CA, if you’re in a building that’s more than 50 years old, that’s “historic”. Huntington Beach High School is 100 Years old (most of the buildings aren’t anywhere near that old) so that’s about as historic as it gets around here….

 Maybe it’s why I like to travel. I’m a total geek when I travel (OK, MORE than normal…). I hear about people going on vacation and laying around for a week! For me, no way! Yes, it’s nice to slow the pace, get a little rest, but for me vacation is a chance to do new things and see stuff that’s more interesting than the HB Pier (not that there’s anything wrong with the pier…but…)

There’s nothing like standing in front of stuff that really did shape our history, and certainly a collective part of the American Psyche.. (sorry if this is rambling, but it’s my blog and I can do what I want…)

 I LOVE American Stuff!! This year I was able to take the family to Tombstone Arizona. Talk about cool! Walk on the same street where Virgil Earp walked, where Morgan Gambled, where the “whole thing went down” in the very place where the shoot out took place. The world thinks we’re all cowboys, maybe we are, but it took guts to live and operate in one of these settlements in the 1800’s.

Most of Tombstone has been recreated to sell stuff to tourists. (The town burnt down more than once, so yeah, the old buildings in many cases aren’t there anymore). What is there?

OK Corral has been modified but it’s a museum of sorts and shows you details you just wouldn’t see otherwise.

Another thing there that is mostly original except for some museum pieces is the old courthouse. It no longer operates but it’s all there. And in the back they even rebuilt the gallows (that were used so much less than people realize…really they weren’t hanging people right and left like they did in the movies!)

But maybe the coolest place was the most run-down…the Bird Cage Theatre is still there. Original parts. It’s the seedy side of town but just as important in many ways as the courthouse. And yes, there really are bullet holes in the stage where the Cowboys got drunk and shot at the actors. (talk about a rough gig).

Another thing many don’t know is that Tombstone is in the high desert. VERY HIGH. So, when its 110 in Tuscon, it’s 78 in Tombstone. It got COLD and is even cold in the summer with rain, thunderstorms, and cloud cover. In the winter, it snows and gets COLD. So those long coats were not just shown in the movie because Kurt Russel looks cool when he pretends to be Wyatt Earp when wearing a trenchcoat. That was Authentic garb for the local yocals. Self defense from the cold and the wind and the rain.

 Anyway, Tombstone feels like the middle of nowhere when you drive there (because it really kinda’ is) but man, is it fun road-trip that is rewarded with an AWESOME experience if you have any interest in westerns and the “real” old-west (I’m SURE it didn’t feel old to the people there!)

I posted a couple pics so you can see it. The photos suck (I can’t find the pics we took with the good camera) but they show you what it kinda’ looks like. If you go, do everything! Cemetery to the courthouse to ok corral to the Bird Cage. Take a stagecoach ride, enjoy the view. And take the time to read everything. You’ll be amazed at how much information is there, how must history happened right there in a 10 year period, and I think you might also be amazed at how enthusiastic and fun the locals are. It is a GREAT family destination. Just watch Tombstone before you go! (I’m your hackle-bearer…yes Doc Holiday said Hackle bearer, not Huckleberry in the movie Tombstone… but I digress…)

We’ve got 50 states in the GREAT nation. Go see them. There’s intersting history and remarkable people in every state in this great nation. It’s my plan to see as many of them as possible. Oh, and take a plane with you because there’s so many COOL places to fly!!!!

6 Gram Indoor Flyer

November 6, 2007

Russ and the FlitFlying the FlitThe hit of the show in the Global Booth (at ihobbyexpo) was the Flit. Universally people were drawn to it’s small size and cute looks.

 What really made people take notice, however, was the performance.

1. You REALLY can fly it in your living room. It’s that small and that agile.

2. It’s got tons of power. Almost too much really.

3. Other true room fliers are about twice the price.

4. It’s 3 channel proportional! That makes a big difference!

The Flit was designed under the direction of Didel (Swiss Genius) in Switzerland. The plane performs great. There was a HUGE amount of time and effort to develop it and then more time making the design fly awesome and be able to still be produced in larger qty’s than 1 at a time by hand! The result of all that work and effort is the Phase 3 Flit. It has enough power to just pull vertical, has a very nice proportional esc, so you can vary the speed to fly it just the way you want to. It’s challenging enough to be interesting and fun enough to keep my interest. I can take off from my computer monitor, fly around my office, and land on my desk. It took some practice, but it’s now 2nd nature. And when you’re done flying, it all goes back in that flat aluminum case!!!

 Anyway, we’re just in production now (everything has to be 100% perfect, so there’s a huge amount of QC as part of this first run) and we’ll be seeing them soon. It’s a worthy product and very unique in the hobby today. I sure had fun flying it at the show!

35 Year Anniversary

November 4, 2007

35th AnniversaryOne of the very extra nice things that happened at the Chicago show was a plaque presented to us to celebrate our 35th Anniversary. The plaque, a complete surprise and very appreciated, was presented to Matt Fales, President of Hobby Shack, from Louis and Yvonne DeFrancesco, Directors of Airage Media (They publish magazines like Car Action, Model Airplane News, etc…www.airage.com).

Hobby Shack (est 1972) was the creation of Paul Bender. My father, John Greenshields, was the one and only employee when we started out in that cute little brick-front building on Knott Ave. in Buena Park. Today, Hobby Shack is the parent company to Hobby People Retail Stores, Hobby People E-Tail (www.hobbypeople.net), and Global Hobby Distributors which is the wholesale division (www.globalhobby.com). Paul is still involved in our company as CEO, with his son-in-law Matt Fales as President .

Thanks to Airage for the recognition and thanks for thinking of us as friends and business associates. We’re looking forward to the next 35 years of innovation and business in the hobby. I know I am.