Thanks for taking a moment to read this note. I wanted to just say a few words about something so that its out in the open for everyone to see. I don't want anyone thinking I’m trying to sneak anything by someone. So this is kind of a full disclosure, I want to be very open about it all and the money involved.
Most of you know all this, but to tell a bit of the history; years back on the old Sixgunner.com website, a fellow was nice enough to loan out a 45 throat reamer that he’d purchased, used and no longer needed. A long list of names was made up, and the reamer was loaned out and made the rounds for some time, going from person to person. Somewhere along the line it was lost, when someone kept it for themselves.
I was one of the many people who never got to use it on his own guns, so I ended up buying one of my own. From that, Id thought about making it a small hobby business, but was afraid of what might be involved so I put it off for some time.
During that time the events of September 11, 2001 happened and we lost a friend and fellow Sixgunner member, Peter Martin, known on the board as PCM. A trust fund was setup for Pete's three boys and their education. Some time later I offered to do the cylinders of anyone who’d been on the original list, but didn't get to use the reamer. The response was good, though most of the people interested weren’t from the list.
I thought this would be a good way to test the waters of the cylinder throat business, as well as make some money for the fund. I came out and made the offer that for the following six months, I would do anyones cylinder for a set fee, with the money going to the PCM fund. I wound up doing them that way for eight months, each one costing me about six bucks in shipping. I was happy to do it, and felt a little strange thinking about turning it into a business, but what it was costing me was starting to add up. I had to turn pro or give it up.
I made it a business, made up a small website, and made the pledge of donated $10 from every 45 job to the Martin Family Trust. Which, I have done now for two plus years.
There have been a few price increases in that time. The first increase was decided on one day as I was standing in line at the post office. I did the math in my head. Not figuring in the cost of gasoline for the 14 mile round trip, the cost of packaging materials, lubricants,, degreasers and bluing and about two hours all total in the work and the shipping, after it was all said and done, I was making $3.00 an hour. ($6 a cylinder)
As dumb as I felt for working for almost nothing, I still felt guilty for raising the price.
The second increase was due to a combination of increased shipping costs and to try and make it more worth my trouble (as well not undercut my competition as badly as I had been). Thats where it stood for a long time, and Im grateful to have been able to raise money for the Martin family.
Which leads me to the point of this essay, which is already far too long. For a while now I've been struggling with what to do as far as the future of "Cylindersmith.com" and my raising money for the Martin Family trust. I've been feeling like I’m personally indebted at this point. Everyone expects this of me and I have to keep doing it. All the while I’m half neglecting my own financial situation. I often think “years from now, will I be helping put these kids through college, while I wont be able to afford to send my own children?” And I feel guilty for thinking such things, even though my first responsibility is to my own family. In the past that was all theoretical, still being single and all.
While Im still single, in the past year or so I've taken on a few extra responsibilities as far as family and relationships go. Im starting to stretch my budget pretty thin. Im not crying poverty, but Im sure not financially secure any more, even with my full time job, plus two part time sources of income (the cylinders being one of them). I've been talking for many months with close friends about it. All of them say pretty much the same thing. Basically; “You did a good thing for a long time, but you cant do it forever. So move on and take care of your own needs.”
I listen, and I guess they're right, but it still doesn't make me feel like any less guilty, or like a liar or crook. Like Im letting everyone down. Maybe Im being stupid, I don't know.
So the purpose of this long rambling letter is to be up front about what I’ve done. I weighed what felt right (or rather what didn't) against what I had to do and came up with sort of a compromise. Not all in, not all out.
As of May this year (2006), I changed my webpage to read 10% from all the .45 cylinder throats goes to the Martin Family Trust. I still feel guilty about it, though everyone tells me I shouldn't.
Im writing this so as to be open and up front about it. The last thing I want is people thinking I tried to sneak the change by, without anyone noticing.
Thanks for taking the time to read this mess. Its had to put into words the way this has all made me feel over the last four or five months, and I know I haven’t done a very good job of it. I've been writing this for weeks, throwing it away and starting over. I cant come up with a good way to express myself on this.