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What was the job that you turned down?


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What was the job that you turned down?  And why?  Looking back, was it the right decision?

When I was ask to make fighting spurs for a fellow that cock fights, I had reservations. When he said he would post my bail, if needed, I politely said NO THANK YOU.

Years later we had a big black rooster the size of a small turkey that went after anyone wearing shorts and would spur them. He attacked my son and put a double puncture into his leg just behind the shin bone. Broke the skin so we doctored the kid and I ask my son to help me catch the rooster. We got the rooster, finally, and with a hack saw in hand, removed the spurs. The next morning the rooster woke up on a friends farm several miles away. I understand that he tried to spur the friends wife just before he was the *special guest* st dinner that night.

 

 

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Glen, I was asked to make fighting spurs this past year at a gun and knife show. I sent the "gentleman" packing empty handed. At the time I didn't think of it as turning down a job but I suppose that's exactly what it was. I live in a timber producing region and we have lots of industrial mills in the area. I often have guys coming up with some form of air hardening steel they have pilfered from the scrap bin at work and want it forged into a knife. Rather than trying to educate them on all the how's and why's I just tell them I don't work with that kind of steel. More than a few of them have taken it hard but they are usually the same ones who think a railroad spike will make as good a blade as D2. Most of my " turn downs" are due to unsuitable or unknown steel the customer wants repurposed. I got a call just today from a man who has some 3/4 round that according to his families oral history he believes is a section of an old prison bar. Of course no specifics about which century or time zone it came from but he says, " looks like pretty good steel, should make a good knife". 

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about 20 years or so ago, I was asked to make a $50,000 investment as start up money for a new company, I would receive 10% ownership in the form of public shares.  I passed because I quickly figured this scam will be shut down by the feds as a loan shark operation. the company is called National Check Advance and I dont want to know what my 10% would have been worth now if I didnt have a conscience and morality.

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I said no when an acquaintance offered to buy my air fare and give me $5,000 if I'd fly to El Salvador and bring back a suitcase for him. :ph34r:There were a lot of those going around about then. Wonder what happened to . . . Ed, I haven't heard from him in a long time?

Frosty The Lucky.

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I can think of some custom jobs we took on when I was a professional woodworker that we should have turned down -- too much hassle, too little profit.

In my current work as a professional fundraiser for a private liberal arts college, I like to say that I've only ever had to turn down one donor completely: an old lady who wanted to make a gift on the condition that we reorient ourselves as an institution to focus on her great passion: the eradication of invasive foxtail grasses. I had to tell her (to her great surprise) that we could not accept her gift on those terms, but that I was sure that the agricultural schools at Cornell University or Ohio State would be happy to benefit from her support.

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Was offered a job on an oil rig in the Persian gulf in the 80's just before the missiles starting flying around. Weekly income was more than I got a month in the job I was in at the time -  Was very glad I turned down the big dollars a few months later

 

 

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Collars and shackles -- and not the historical reproduction kind.  Not a year goes by that someone doesn't ask me to make a set - especially after that Game of Thrones dragon lady turned her collar into an accessory to hold up her dress!

I don't have a problem making the stuff, but I can't get over the notion of possible liability issues.

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9 hours ago, VaughnT said:

Collars and shackles -- and not the historical reproduction kind.  Not a year goes by that someone doesn't ask me to make a set - especially after that Game of Thrones dragon lady turned her collar into an accessory to hold up her dress!

I don't have a problem making the stuff, but I can't get over the notion of possible liability issues.

I have trouble talking them into doing the fittings nude so they're j-u-s-t r-i-g-h-t. :(

Frosty The Lucky.

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Back in 1964 at the Jack Ruby trial in Dallas, I was employed by United Press International Newspictures. My job was to sit in the courthouse and take pictures every time Jack Ruby was escorted into or out of the courtroom. I was offered $200 per roll of film if I would use a second camera to shoot for Paris Match Magazine. At that time, $200 was similar to $1,000 dollars of today's money. The question came down to this; if anything out of the ordinary happened in that hallway, which camera would I grab first? I owed my loyalty to my employer, who was paying me $65 a week to do the job, so I turned down Paris Match.

 

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Ah, are these blacksmithing jobs or any jobs?    If I take out the time machine and go back 20years I'd say I'd do nothing different but understand people are people and they don't understand what it really takes to make something with your hands and have it come out looking so sweet you don't want to part with it, let alone sell it. 

If you make something look easy.. People assume it is easy and they aren't willing to pay you a premium for you expertise..   If you make it look difficult and can promote your expertise (though the work is not very good or is good) you will end up far better off.. 

I knew a guy who did very shoddy forge work, mig welded everything together and charged big money and was so busy it turned into a big success and retired with money in the bank.. 

I've learned over the years..  It's the self promoters, and  networkers that do the best even if their work isn't as good as somebody else.. Some how they convince the people that the work is better though I wouldn't put it in my outhouse.. 

 

It's the human connections that get, keep and sell business..  People like the down trodden, the underdog as they can sympathize with them,.  People have a hard time with talented people which either envy or fear keeps them from connecting with..  

   Or you have to make a product no one can find anywhere else..  But first and foremost its the human connections.. 

I took 12 years off from being a professional smith because of not one particular job but many particular jobs.. I was robbed of vision through my own misunderstandings.. 

Some people have it some don't..   I know where I stand.. :)

 

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Turned down quite a few forging jobs now, glad I did too, been told a few times now, "its not the jobs that you turn down that send you broke, its the jobs that you accept that do that".  Last one turned down was a job for tension bolts, turnbuckles and eye bolts for a restoration of an old wooden bridge out in the South west of NSW.  The customer even wanted to know at the tender stage the frequency of rest stops, the route taken, the tare weight, the emission controls etc etc that the truck delivering the finished forgings to the job site was going to have, at the tender stage!!!!  I figured that that was one job that we could do without.

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On the flip side:  I once owned a 100+ year old structural brick house whose wooden gables were in poor shape, about 40' off the ground too.  Not being enamoured with  painting I was doing it as carefully as possible----scrape off old paint to bare wood, prime twice and paint with oil based paint---my take on it was I was only going to do it one time in my lifetime!

Meanwhile a crew of commercial painters was doing a house across the street;  we got to talking and they told me that they had thought of coming over and giving me a quote on my painting until they watched how I was doing it and decided that we wouldn't suit...

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

On 10/24/2016 at 11:46 AM, jlpservicesinc said:

I took 12 years off from being a professional smith because of not one particular job but many particular jobs.. I was robbed of vision through my own misunderstandings.. 

Some people have it some don't..   I know where I stand.. :)

 

I think a lot of great achievements involve removing obstacles we had placed in our own path.  You've shared some real wisdom there!

For what it's worth, I think people respond to much more than underdog stories. 

To some extent, the audience want's to see itself as the hero of the production.

To that end, Captains of industry are often patrons of the master craftspeople.

When I chased work with the lowest of clients, I heard no end of their comments undervaluing my work.  Now when I send a quote to a high-end customer; I get respect, appreciation, and good paying jobs.

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On 11/3/2016 at 7:10 PM, rockstar.esq said:

 

I think a lot of great achievements involve removing obstacles we had placed in our own path.  You've shared some real wisdom there!

For what it's worth, I think people respond to much more than underdog stories. 

To some extent, the audience want's to see itself as the hero of the production.

To that end, Captains of industry are often patrons of the master craftspeople.

When I chased work with the lowest of clients, I heard no end of their comments undervaluing my work.  Now when I send a quote to a high-end customer; I get respect, appreciation, and good paying jobs.

The more you charge.. the more you are worth..???????????

At least that is how one class of citizenship sees it..   

Strange world where the quality of work does not equate....

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Look at cars; there have been some real lemons selling for much more than some really well made cars.  There are certain years of Jaguars, Rolls Royces and Cadillacs where they are best admired from afar while you drive something with less cachet but will run reliably.  (I knew a fellow who bought a used Jag and had it pushed across the street from the dealership to an automotive electric repair place and completely rewired, all new electric stuff before he took possession of it.  I got to ride in it and hear the story first hand.  '60's big black jag coupe----with the warning labels on the windows advising you to not open them if going above 120 mph....sigh) 

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I turned down doing a little steel end table that would have duplicated an already made, ugly end table.

I've corresponded recently with the respected Tucson smith, Tom Bredlow, and in his recent letter, he talked about opening his shop, August, 1964.. Somehow, he wound up making some knife blades, which he hated doing. His father told him that since he was in business, it was an economic necessity to do anything that came through the doorway. Tom disagreed. He maintained that he didn't even want to finish the work he hated. He wanted to do work that he "loved." 

Tom got his chance when the National Cathedral contacted him to make a Yellin candlestick to match one of a pair, that had been stolen. He did so and later got some gate jobs for the cathedral. My opinion...wonderful design and workmanship. If you visit the cathedral, take a look, or purchase the book, "Beauty in the Shadows."

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9 hours ago, jlpservicesinc said:

The more you charge.. the more you are worth..???????????

At least that is how one class of citizenship sees it..   

Strange world where the quality of work does not equate....

JLP

I suspect you're right that there are some who feel that way.  That wasn't the point I was trying to convey.  After reading your post, I think you are worth more than the cheapskates can see. 

Customers who will happily accept the cheapest option are rarely willing to see value in a quality work. By extension, these clients have no compunction about wasting the professionals time to glean information they can use towards a cheaper option.

I've known quite a few sole proprietors who thought cheapskates appreciate "underdogs".  Cheapskates seem to appreciate the scorched-earth approach to paying the least amount for a given thing.  They'll play along with whatever story a professional's willing to believe so long as it leads to a cheaper price. Maybe cheapskates approach commerce with adversarial intent.  That might explain why they're often unkind and critical.  Whatever their reasons, it's demoralizing for a professional who's doing their best to help a client with limited means.

Conversely,  there are clients who's prime concern is quality, and they know what it's worth which is why they're willing to pay for it.  The "underdog" pitch may fall flat with someone who's looking for a professional who can absolutely deliver.  The whole reason we call them "underdogs" is because they're unlikely to come out on top.

If a professional has built their business and their skills to the point where they can deliver top-notch work, it's disingenuous to present themselves as an underdog.  The higher end client is concerned with many things, including pride of ownership.  They're looking to hire the finest professional available. 

I never wrote that I charged the higher-end client more because I don't.  High-end clients are better able to see the quality for my price which defines my value. It stands to reason that the person who can see you're a valuable professional would be thankful,and respectful of your time, no matter how much (or how little) the item costs.  It also stands to reason that a high-end client has little patience for professionals who don't offer a good value.  Pad the bid at your peril.

It's been my experience that the cheapskates present a lower barrier-to-entry to the professional and they outnumber the good clients exponentially.  I've spent years chasing cheapskates with nothing to show for it but a lot of frustration and unpaid invoices.  In comparison, it took me about 6 months of concerted effort to develop leads with good clients before it started to pay off.  Within the first year, we set records for profitability simply because the good clients paid their bills. 

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On 2016-11-04 at 0:10 AM, rockstar.esq said:

When I chased work with the lowest of clients, I heard no end of their comments undervaluing my work.  Now when I send a quote to a high-end customer; I get respect, appreciation, and good paying jobs.

Hear Hear. My own experience is that ignorant customers always interfered with (read downgraded) my design ("This is the way we do it here - we never did this before but this is the way we did it"). Knowledgable customers may have some request for change but never a downgrade.

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On 11/8/2016 at 0:41 PM, Frank Turley said:

I turned down doing a little steel end table that would have duplicated an already made, ugly end table.

I've corresponded recently with the respected Tucson smith, Tom Bredlow, and in his recent letter, he talked about opening his shop, August, 1964.. Somehow, he wound up making some knife blades, which he hated doing. His father told him that since he was in business, it was an economic necessity to do anything that came through the doorway. Tom disagreed. He maintained that he didn't even want to finish the work he hated. He wanted to do work that he "loved." 

Tom got his chance when the National Cathedral contacted him to make a Yellin candlestick to match one of a pair, that had been stolen. He did so and later got some gate jobs for the cathedral. My opinion...wonderful design and workmanship. If you visit the cathedral, take a look, or purchase the book, "Beauty in the Shadows."

It only takes one..       

 

My award winning personality is the big seller. :)

 

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