This week we have a special guest post from our own Jon Kiger...
I seem to be especially hard on deck shoes. Maybe it's the Georgia climate that lends itself to wearing them year round, but I seem to go through a pair in about a year. A few months ago I sprung for a pair from a company that has an airtight guarantee of satisfaction. Those shoes started to come apart at the seams and they had me return them 'no questions asked' for a repair that would take two to three weeks round-trip.
Knowing I had a replacement pair on the way, I wasn't inclined to buy another new pair and figured I could find older ones lying around the shoe boneyard. I found a pair in pretty good shape, but due to a dog or other family member, they no longer had their leather laces.
"I wasn't inclined to buy another new pair and figured I could find older ones lying around the shoe boneyard..."
No problem there.
I just popped into to the local shoe repair and asked about getting the laces replaced. The shop owner quoted $15, and my reaction to the price must have been obvious from my expression. The leather laces couldn't cost very much and for someone of his talents wouldn't take very long to replace. But the prospect of spending nearly a third the cost of new shoes just on a set of laces obviously gave me pause, especially when I was only going to wear them for a few weeks.
He then offered an alternative. "Do you have tool? You can do yourself and I sell you laces for $7."
I didn't care to delve into occupational choices and hobbies, but suffice it to say if I had a set of cobbler's tools at home I probably wouldn't be in his shop in the first place.
"...suffice it to say if I had a set of cobbler's tools at home I probably wouldn't be in his shop in the first place."
In a leap of faith (or to get me out of the way) he offered to loan me the correct tool for use in his shop or at home. Now we're talking! I plunked down my $7 and he pulled out the perfect tool for the job - a lacing needle about four inches long with a set of threads milled into one end. Snip a bit off one end of the lace, twist it into the needle and start threading the leather through the shoes.
He assisted me with the basics (getting the threading started and determining the final length of the laces) but I did most of the work.
Talk about a win-win situation! He got to spend his time on more profitable work and I had my stopgap shoes for $7. As I drove home I thought about the lessons this experience taught about our industry.
First is the importance of having the right tool for the job. I'm sure I could have bought the laces outright and rigged up something, but that would have taken much more time and led to potential frustration - if it had even worked at all. That lacing needle was specifically designed for that task and worked perfectly. It was fast and efficient, even for someone who had never used it before.
I think that's one reason why I enjoy filming all the gadgets and time savers our TurfNet members come up with for TurfNetTV. I get to see up close the innovation and fabrication in the never-ending quest for the perfect tool to do the job.
Second is knowing the cost of labor to do a job and the opportunity cost of a valuable employee doing something that could be done by someone else at a lower rate. The shop owner knew that by foregoing the labor on my job, he could spend his time on more profitable work, making far more in the process than the $8 discount.
Rest assured that we at TurfNet are working hard to continue to be one of your best tools for whatever this industry throws at you.
Jon is our director of membership & advertising sales, and intrepid video cameraman. He wears size 10-1/2 deck shoes. Below is a compilation of some of his work...