Archive for February, 2008

Product Management Installment 2

February 27, 2008

As I discussed in Installment one, many of our brands are an agency. In those situations we have little to do with development with the product.

For Installment 2 of this series I want to discuss a kind of partial agency situation. For these brands, products come about in a “collective” kind of way. Sometimes it’s factory engineers, sometimes it’s other factory management, sometimes it”s the agents (like us) who suggest new products to be created.

In most cases, the factory then shares the product idea with all of the agents and we proritize the ideas. A factory has to make products good for either as many markets as possible, or when there’s a product that is just for 1 or 2 markets, then these must be “fairly” divied up.

 For example, Model Tech is working on a model that might sell a little bit in the USA, probably very very small numbers for the UK and Australia, but in Germany, the Model Tech agent (Their name is Krick) believes they will sell many and it will help Model Tech sales for them. Model Tech is fitting in this project amongst the 30 or so others they are working on currently. It’s a fair system that keeps the factory busy and the agents healthy.

In some ways, this relationship is the most fun for Product Managers like me. Now I know this is a business and this is about pleasing you, not personally entertaining me. But when you do something you love, it’s not a job any more. And in my opinion, I do a better job when I enjoy what I do. But ok, I digress…

 Working with companies like Model Tech means I get to fly to Nuremberg, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Beijing (these are the major international tradeshows except for Shenzhen which is where the factory is located). I’ve been traveling overseas since 1998 and really even after all this time I still enjoy it. But that’s an article for another day.

 The people at these factories are decent, hardworking, caring people who love their companies, care about their employees, and want most of all for their customers to enjoy their products. There is great pride in what they do.

 It is rewarding to work with them.

 We also meet with and work with some of their agents. As in my earlier example, the agents for Model Tech are all interesting individuals with tons of industry experience and lots of passion for the hobby. These guys are creative, love model airplanes and are simply decent people who are fun to work with.

 Life’s too short to work with dishonest people or people who are simply not nice. I refuse to do it…

So, what is this leading to you ask? Well, these are the brands that have developed world wide marketing status, have a world wide perspective, and yet care so much that they are making sure we have products perfect for our market.

 When we develop a product with them, we now have modelers from around the world checking the models, reviewing their performance, making sure that the quality is great.

I keep coming back to Model Tech because right now they have quadrupled their efforts to create new products and in 2008 we’re going to see the results. I’ve got highly detailed, beautiful samples now coming from these guys.  90 size warbirds with very scale lines and finish, sport planes with better hardware, better fit and finish than ever before, electrics up to 90 size, and even fiberglass fuselage scale aircraft. 

 All in all there are 7 models in-house being worked on by Global, and another 24 models in process at the factory or with other agents. And each agency has a speciality so the best of the best in the world are now working to develop these models. They will be the best Model Tech has ever made.

People have asked what the process is, it’s actually fairly simple.

1. Ideas are expressed, discussed, and developed.

2. Ideas that we all decide are “worthy” are then put in a list and prioritized.

3. Drawings for the most important projects are made, color schemes are picked, etc.

4. Drawings are then shared with all the agents. We review them, make corrections, etc.

5. Samples are built, photos are shared of the actual construction along the way. We make suggestions, etc.

6. Samples are sent to the designated or “lead” agent for that product. So, when they send us a product, we go through it in detail, make sure it builds properly, then make sure it flies properly, modify as necessary and so on. Once we think we’ve found every place we can make an improvement, we get a new sample and start step 6 all over again.

7. Once it is extensively test flown and everyone is happy, we make directions, labels, ads, and do all the support work required.

8 We then order and release it. It’s fairly simple in terms of explanation. In practice, it’s a long stream of critical thinking, challenging problem solving, and constant re-evaluation.

Anyway, it’s a BLAST to see these new products start as discussions/brain storming sessions and develop into products that make modelers happy world wide.

Again, if anyone has any questions, comments etc. I’d love to hear them! I hope you’re finding this at least mildly interesting!

Mike

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Stuff Going ON!!!

February 25, 2008

Wow, It seems like the last month has BLOWN By!!!!

 Thanks to everyone who visited, I hope they found some informative stuff!!!

 Since AMA, we’ve visited Nuremberg Germany and exhibited Airtronics at the WRAM show in NY (Thanks to Craig Kaplan for working that show SOLO!)

We’ve also sold through our first shipment of RDS8000 radios and are preparing our 2nd shipment (hopefully this week which will catch up most backorders). We’ve also sold through our first shipment of Cypher Helicopters (look for reviews on this coming up in RC Heli, Backyard Flyer, RC Helicopter, and Rotary). More will be along late next month.

On the car side of things, Craig and XTM released the RAGE truck. It’s a little 1/18th EP truck that is affordable, fun, and so far it’s been really popular.

All of these new releases combined with so much travel have really been keeping us busy. But I must take a minute just to publicly thank all of the staff and my co-workers at Global. Over the last month, along with all of this travel, over 50% of our staff have been out sick! From IT, to CS, to Airtronics Service, to Global Reps, Mail Order, Art Dept, R&D, etc… Everyone is SICK!!! It’s terrible. This cold seems to have swept the country and those who got this cold are really suffering. So, if there’s anyone sick at your work or in your family, give them support! They are sick and it SUCKS……

Anyway, our staff here have all been working double duty just to keep things afloat and while I’m sure over the next 2 weeks everyone will feel better and get back to work and then get caught up, we’re really struggling and I’m so glad we have the great and dedicated staff we do! So thank you to each and every person at Hobby Shack, Global, Hobby People, Airtronics, and Global Services for working your tails off!!!

Thank you to everyone!!!

Mike Greenshields

Global and Airtronics at AMA

February 1, 2008

MTARF Super Cub GenII EP or GlowXTM_RAGEBoothJeff FassbinderJack Mike And CraigCraig and BruceEFHeli_CypherA couple of weeks have gone by. Happy February! 1/12 of 2008 is already over. Wow time is blowing by so fast!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by and visited us at the AMA Convention. It was a pleasure to talk to all of you. I’m simply amazed at the positive comments and genuine excitement I saw in people about the Hobby! The line to get in Friday morning stretched all the way out into the parking lot! IMPRESSIVE!

The star of the show, in our humble opinion, was the RDS8000. The radio was demonstrated at the show in Jeff Fassbinder’s helicopter. He debuted a new version of the Thunder Tiger electric heli and a production RDS8000! All went well and he was pleased with the result. Last October, Jeff was the first person in the USA to fly the RDS8000 prototype in a helicopter. He tested it in his Raptor 90 competition heli with all positive results.  Today, we’ve released the RDS8000 and are simply overwhelmed by the demand for the radio. We know it works great, but we’re thankful there are so many of you out there ready to fly Airtronics with us!

 In the pictures of the booth, you’ll see Jack Albrecht, Craig Kaplan, and me together. This was our first chance to meet and work together face-to-face. Jack is an amazing figure in the hobby industry. He cares about Airtronics pilots’ success, about the hobby in general, and acts on those concerns locally by participating in his local club and nationally by working with the AMA. He’s a true leader in the industry and frankly we’re proud to know him and to be able to work with him here at Global. I just can’t say enough about his positive impact on us and the hobby in general.

Our modest little booth was designed and setup by Craig Kaplan. The lightup Airtronics sign Craig literally built by hand. Pretty impressive display I think!

There were lots of cool new stuff from Global in the Booth too. The ASM A26 (now being flown regularly by Larry Wolf at Jet Hangar Hobbies), the Phase 3 Flit, the Model Tech Super Cub, and really all the planes received a lot of attention. We even showed a car or two. The new little RAGE from XTM was amazing popular.  A lot of airplane guys even showed interest in this little 1/18th truck!

We saw HUGE interest in our new Heli, the Cypher from EF Helicopters. This heli is a unique design in the 400 class. The head speed is 3000 rpm, the head has metal parts, the tail is slop free and solid, and the entire heli is simply well-built. It’s a true out-of-the-box 3D performer. Am I biased? YEP. Is it great? YEP. The pilots we asked to fly prototypes and give us feedback all say the same thing. NOTHING comes out of the box this good for 230 bucks especially with an esc and motor that were setup for this heli!

The show was simply fantastic and worthwhile for every modeler who attended. I hope next year to see even more of you there!

 Mike