Day: September 25, 2013

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

09:13 – It’s a cool, drizzly morning and it’s down to about 71F (22C) in the house, about where we keep the temperature during heating season. I drink hot drinks only during cool or cold weather, and I just started making a pot of Earl Grey tea for the first time since last spring.

Kit sales are sporadic. We shipped four kits Saturday, eight kits Monday, three yesterday, and only one so far today. But there’s apparently no way of predicting. We could ship ten kits today, or we could ship just the one. Tomorrow, we might ship none at all, or we might ship half a dozen. Whatever happens, our inventory of kits is now at a comfortable level and, as always, we’re in the process of building more.

11:39 – Well, kit orders just reached five for today, so far. I’m busy building and shipping kits, but I’m still trying to devote some time to planning/designing future kits. I could spend all my time for at least a year or two doing just that.

I already know what the first two new kits for 2014 are doing to be. First, Earth Science, which I’ve been working on as I have time available. Second, I need to design a kit for the state virtual school AP chemistry course. I’ve been shipping stuff directly to the school in bulk, sufficient for them to assemble 40 AP chemistry kits. This year, the state virtual school is providing the kits to homeschool parents, but in 2014 the state is getting out of the kit business. Parents who want their students to take the virtual school AP chemistry course will need to buy the kits themselves, and we’ll ship directly to them. That raises a stocking problem for us because no one, including the virtual school staff, has any idea how many students will be taking the course next year. This year, it was 40. Next year it could be 22 or 222. And, of course, all the orders are likely to come in within the space of a week or two, and all of the customers are going to want their kits Right Now. I think what we’ll probably do is build 30 or 60 kits in anticipation of a flood of orders next May and just make sure that we can build more relatively quickly.

I also want to do a CK02 chemistry kit in 2014 for AP chemistry students, and a BK02 biology kit for AP biology students. Neither of those are likely to sell as well as the corresponding first-year kits and both will require signicant design work and time to write documentation, but both are kits that I want to have in our stable. Finally, although it probably won’t happen in 2014–even the AP Bio & Chem kits may not happen in 2014–I want to do kits for first-year physics students and AP physics students.

Obviously, I have a lot on my plate. Current jobs like building and shipping kits have to take priority, which limits how much time I can spend on new stuff. Barbara currently puts in several hours most weekends on kit stuff, but she still works full-time at the law firm. We’ve discussed her retiring from the law firm or perhaps going to flex-time and shorter hours there, but I suspect it’ll be at least the end of 2014 (when she turns 60) until we see any movement on that front. Eventually, I’d like to see Barbara working full-time for our company six or eight months a year and having the remaining four to six months a year free to travel and do other things she enjoys doing.

That means I’ll need to get Barbara up to speed on all aspects of the business other than designing kits and writing lab manuals. I’m the one who has to do that, but Barbara can do everything else. Everything from filling out sales tax and corporate reports to processing orders and shipping kits to maintaining raw-materials and finished-goods inventory and cutting purchase orders to making up solutions. Barbara is smart and sensible. She can do all this.

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