Antenocitis Workshop: Probleme und Verzögerungen
Bei Antenocitis Workshop gibt es aufgrund privater Schwierigkeiten deutliche Probleme mit dem letzten Kickstarter und der Zukunft des Unternehmens.
Es folgt ein extrem langer Text. Wir haben versucht, ihn durch Hervorhebungen etwas zu strukturieren.
Enforced changes to the Schedule
Firstly apologies for the lengthy delay in recent updates and getting this Update out to you. This is not how we generally run a Kickstarter and it is far from ideal, however, the last two months have not been very easy for us, and moving forward we have to make some radical changes to continue.
So, as some of you may know we are a very small company consisting of four people, Ben, Chris, Nadine and Myself (Jed).
Everybody has multiple jobs and any changes in circumstances have an unavoidable and inevitably lead to a knock-on effect in the business. We are also in a period of significant uncertainty in the Industry as the spending patterns of customers have changed so dramatically with platforms such as Kickstarter, and the explosion in 3D printing, 3D print studios and Laser cutting.
This is very much not the same business of 10 years ago, 5 years ago or even 1 year ago…. And with almost all our materials coming from within the EU, Brexit uncertainty doesn’t help either when trying to plan long-term.
For the last four years, we’ve had Chris Carter managing the workshop, doing moulding and significant casting. He’s very good at it as well, however, he is now leaving us.
The best way for me to cover why is to quote his own words from his recent Facebook post:
“It seems to be fairly appropriate that this has happened on World Mental Health Day but today is the start of the next phase of my life. Many know that both of my kids have extra needs with Autism and ADHD and fortunately the powers that be now agree with us. Katie has been trying her hardest with the Kids for forever and I am now in a position to help her.
I handed my notice in today.
From Christmas, at the latest, I shall be refocussing my life towards helping Katie raise and care for our Kids to the best of our ability. She has been on her own in the fight for too long and has her own health concerns to sort, but never gets the chance to rest and get herself back on top.
Hopefully, I can now offer her the support she needs to recover herself.
Here’s to the Future“
Obviously, Chris is putting his family first as he should do and he is leaving us on very good terms and with our very best wishes.
That said, his departure leaves us in a difficult position.
People with Chris’ experience are rare and finding somebody else to train up to his standards, exceptionally difficult and time-consuming…and often they fail. It would involve a lengthy training period, which needs managing and increased costs in wastage and so on and so forth…and we do not have the money, manpower or time to do that.
We have tried to do the same previously and it resulted in a period of sub-standard casting and moulding, as well as very high costs that did not result in us ending up with qualified capable casters anyway.
The final piece of the puzzle is that after 6 or 7 years of deteriorating eyesight it has come to the point that close-in high-detail work has become harder and harder for me to do, to the point where the final mastering stages of a model have become problematic with that type of work accelerating the issues with my eyesight.
Without Chris checking and qualifying masters it will become difficult to reliably keep the detail and quality that I expect.
So, after 15 years in the Industry and with a view to how the wargaming market has changed and is changing, we do not feel that continuing to produce hand-cast resin models is viable in the medium to long-term.
As such we will be closing our resin-casting operations at a point in the near future.
Our goal is to wrap-up resin-casting and change to selling 3D print files alongside our MDF laser-cut kits. We will eventually close our resin-casting capabilities but in the immediate future, we will be closing half of our resin-casting workshop alongside closing-down two of the four small units we have here in Wem.
In 2019 Nadine will also be leaving us, leaving Ben and myself who will be continuing on our own in the final two units.
What about US-IMF?
The simplest thing to do would be to refund everybody and call it quits, however that is not financially viable.
We have done an awful lot of the work for USIMF already and are now very close to starting full-scale production, plus the main financial outlay has already occurred.
As such we intend to commence USIMF resin with full production starting in the second week of November and continuing to completion whereupon we will cease Resin casting as a whole.
First, we need to get ready for Chris departing and that discussion and planning have been going on for some time now, as well as other planning for the forced changes – those plans have only really started to come together this week and this has been the reason for the delays in recent updates.
For us, the most immediate necessity is to reduce our overheads and get the new facilities sorted out – as such we will be “stopping operations” from November 1st to November 11th.
During that time we will be stripping-down two of the units and re-arranging the other two units to get ready for future operations, after that we will re-open as normal.
This will not affect the website during that time, but we will be unable to produce or post items during the works.
3D work for USIMF completes at the end of October.
That then leads into the culmination of the production moulding work by Chris for all items except the Kestrel, Ogre, Mastodon and Eagle. (More on those later)
So before Chris leaves, the production prototyping will be completed and the majority of production moulding – that is significant as it means repeat-moulds can be made for production as required with “the minimum of downtime” and in many cases, no new moulds will be required to be made.
That leaves me as much time as possible to get the casting done myself, both before and after Chris leaves.
3D Print files and other AW products:
We have a number of existing resin models for Infinity and GOT and our MDF kits that will need to either be continued or discontinued depending on the individual models themselves – the more time-consuming less-profitable items will be removed from the store, and resin components within MDF kits are already being replaced and/or reduced.
Ultimately, as a company, we will eventually only be producing 3D print files and with regard to that format, we have been in discussion with Stephane Chasseloup whose designs make up a considerable portion of the USIMF range.
Because of those discussions, we will soon be able to offer 3D print file versions of his models and we also plan to release the STL files of our existing catalogue.
In fact, this needs to be our next priority:
Our recent operating costs and material outlay means that we need a cash injection to continue through into 2019 and so we plan to put out a new Kickstarter that includes our back catalogue of 3D models as well as the USIMF 3D print files.
As these are already “ready for print” and therefore delivery, this can be run and delivered within a very short period of time and without impacting on the USIMF resin production.
As such we want to get that up and running ASAP (before Chris leaves us), meaning before Christmas.
As we can now offer the .stl files, we intend to offer USIMF backers the option to swap-out their resin orders for 3D print files.
However, this will not be limited to USIMF stl models and will include many of our back-catalogue items that will go into the 3DPrint Kickstarter, therefore including our GOT sci-fi and our scenery ranges. Put together that makes a significant increase in the range and type of vehicles and scenery that will become available.
This won’t be possible for all items as some models would require IP permission from other sources that we do not have for releasing .stl files (such as the Mastodon) – Thus we will be producing a list of options for USIMF backers who can swap-out resin for 3D print files.
Any “excess” money would then be available on future .stl products and, alternatively, our MDF kits – but we think the best way to deal with that is on an individual case-by-case basis.
For those who can do this, it means that they will get a very good deal on .stl prints and for those who cannot we hope that it will shorten our production queues so that we can get their resin out faster…. And on that note:
USIMF Resin production:
We are going to concentrate firstly on the 15mm production – this is because we can get more of this done, more quickly than the 28mm casting which has been going on very slowly.
It does require more moulding work; however, we have calculated our mould-number requirements and materials already and Chris will be getting those completed before he leaves – thereby leaving me free to cast those “quickly”
There are some exceptions though: Kestrel, Ogre, Mastodon and Eagle – the reason for that being that they all require multiple large moulds that take up a lot of production space. With the reduction in casters we can’t actually use the second resin-production-line and doing multiple moulds for single products uses up a lot of the production line and that would just hinder overall production: leaving those “until the end” means that we can get the other models cast faster.
We are therefore going to ship those larger models, in either scale, at the end of casting which will mean that some of your orders will be split into one or more dispatches.
At this precise moment in time, I cannot give you timetables.
We do know that, unless something untoward happens, our restructuring must finish for the 12th November – as our remaining resin-production line remains completely untouched, and therefore fully operational, that day marks the start of full 15mm production.
However: our previous USIMF timetables were structured around a breakdown of the KS pledges based on a resin casting schedule that no longer exists – we won’t have the staff nor the second resin-casting capability – which means that we have to go back through each KS pledge and make a new production schedule based on what is most efficient in terms of getting product out to you.
And here is where scheduling gets bit complex – we do not want to produce Resin pledges if the person behind that pledge wants to switch to 3D print files.
As such we need to set up and manage a questionnaire for USIMF backers to see who may want to switch over “in principle”. We know and understand that some of you cannot answer that until you see our full .stl offer, but we can’t do that until we’ve structured the new .stl Print Kickstarter.
And if you have followed me this far I hope that you are beginning to understand the complexities of getting this all sorted out….
Obviously, we do not want to prevent the start of 15mm production and we can start with the most popular models without running into reasons to stop producing them for a period.
Which means that the next few weeks are going to be “interesting times”.
I didn’t want to hide anything from you, at the same time I didn’t want to put out an Update that says either “We don’t know what we’re going to do” or “ We’re closing down the company and you’ve lost your money”… both of which were on the table as recently as yesterday.
There is an awful lot of stress in trying to keep a company going in this Industry and there are companies a lot bigger than us that have recently folded under that pressure – it’s easy also to be critical on the Internet and offer easy-answers or offer 20-20 hindsight solutions. The reality is that very few people actually realise the cost of operations, the minuscule profit margins we try to on or the radical ways in which the entire industry is shifting.
One year ago the market was completely different than it is today, and our sales were also completely different than there are now. Outlets such as Shape ways, Etsy, Kickstarter itself, the availability, reliability and costs of 3D printing, the many. Many “home-brew” businesses running laser operations with no overheads, the constant drop of prices forced into the marketplace by those factors….and the huge growth of these micro-manufacturers.
Without any shadow of a doubt, our least-stressful option is to walk-way from the company tomorrow and let it be wound-up by a liquidator – at no personal risk or cost.
That would obviously be at the full cost to you though. It isn’t something any of us want to do.
As such this is the only practical way forward that we can see, where we can still deliver models to you that you backed the KS for and that, frankly, you deserve to get for backing us.
I know this will disappoint many of you, it disappoints us also, but there is little point in me telling you some fluff and it’s a darn sight easier being honest about this all, then trying to hide it.
I just want to end by re-emphasising that we fully support Chris’ decision to concentrate on his family and that whilst his leaving can be seen as a catalyst for events it most certainly isn’t a cause of events… this is a combination of a lot of disparate factors and particularly it’s “something that the industry is going through” and by no means affecting only us.
One either changes and adapts or one goes bust.
We want to adapt, and to do so without failing to fulfil your pledges, one way or another.
Kurz gesagt: Durch den Verlust entscheidender Mitarbeiter und gesundheitliche Probleme sind bei Antenocitis Workshop massive Probleme entstanden, die die Leistungsfähigkeit der Firma in Zukunft deutlich einschränken werden. Die Resinproduktion wird nur noch aufrecht erhalten, bis der USIMF- Kickstarter abgeschlossen ist – wenn es dafür reicht. Die Firma steckt außerdem in finanziellen Schwierigkeiten, was auf rückläufige Bestellungen und den generell veränderten Markt zurückzuführen ist.
Wir beobachten die Entwicklung weiter, wer aber noch Interesse an Resinmodellen von Antenocitis Workshop hat, der sollte eventuell schnell bestellen (was auch der Firma helfen würde).