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About Lobo

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  • Leatherwork Specialty
    Retired holster maker.
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  1. Lobo

    This MUST be a Joke!! ...Nope!

    How can we expect Darwin's principle (survival of the fittest) ever work properly with warning labels? They say there is no cure for stupid. Warning labels may be an attempted cure.
  2. I suggest that you scroll up the Forums page to the sub-forum "Marketing and Advertising" where you will find dozens of posts discussing various venues and marketing strategies. Personally, I started out in 1972 as a young police officer with a mortgage to be paid and hungry kids to feed on skinny paychecks. If I needed or wanted a holster, belt, or accessory I learned to make them so I didn't have to drain the household budget. The others I worked with saw what I was doing and started asking for my products. So I had a little sideline hobby-business with co-workers and referrals as my customers for many years. After retiring from law enforcement I went into another business, but continued turning out a few holsters and accessories each week and month. By about 2004 I was offering a few products on-line, which resulted in requests for other products. I started a website and within 6 months I was working 7 days per week in the shop to keep up with orders, no time for anything else. I hired and trained assistants and continued working on new products and improved designs while completing and shipping about 2000 orders per year to all 50 US states and 33 other countries. In 2015 I had gone nearly 9 years without a day off, without a vacation, without a holiday. I was earning great money and had savings, investments, and retirement plans that I never dreamed of having. But I was dead tired and totally burned out. I was ready to shut the business down and retire completely. Then along came a good family from Iowa who ran a leather business with other product lines and wanted to purchase Lobo Gun Leather. We struck a deal and I went to Iowa for a few weeks to help with the transition period and first few production runs. They are still doing very well with my original product line and their own innovations. I remain on staff as a consultant, no real duties or obligations but I serve as a sounding board for new ideas and marketing efforts. My suggestons: 1. Identify your market niche. Look for under-served market segments. Don't try to be everything to everyone; concentrate your efforts on one segment of the market and an assortment of proven products. 2. Keep the day job until the business grows to a level that sustains your needs. At the same time, keep the business manageable; don't take on more work than you can complete within the promised delivery times. 3. Do not try to grow a business on borrowed money; you will just end up working for the bankers. 4. Spend an hour or two each day going back through the posts on this forum. Pay attention to the contributions of others who have gone before you, information about what works and what doesn't, what sells and what doesn't sell, etc. This forum is a great source of knowledge and guidance. Best regards.
  3. Lobo

    Cuz taxes didn't suck enough ...

    The recent efforts to collect sales taxes (similar to the UK VAT) has become an issue in the United States since the growth of the internet and on-line shopping. Such purchases have undoubtedly reduced sales and tax revenues from traditional brick and mortar stores across the country, and the various states and local authorities are attempting to replace those lost tax revenues by attaching taxes on internet sales. The United States of America has always been a collection of individual states, each functioning as the primary government within its borders. Originally the national government was charged only with national defense, postal services, foreign affairs, and regulation of interstate commerce. This system of governance was called "federalism". Starting in the 1930's under the administration of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt the national government began usurping state and local powers, centralizing authority at the national level. This was usually accomplished by subsidies and revenue sharing schemes, essentially offering state and local political authorities large pots of federal dollars in exchange for surrendering state and local control. This has been going on for 3 full generations of Americans now and most simply do not recall that we were intended to have far more control over our own affairs than has become the norm under federal control. Hence, a Department of Education dictating school curricula and enforcing compliance with funding; a Department of Health, Education and Welfare dictating local benefit programs and enforcing compliance with funding; an Environmental Protection Agency with near-dictatorial powers over land use, development, etc, enforcing compliance with funding; and many more centrally-run programs that are used to control local government affairs (and elections) via funding, or threatening to cut off funding. None of these functions or entities are mentioned in or authorized by the US Constitution, and are thus of questionable legality to begin with; however no one seriously challenges such government over-reach because to do so threatens the primary revenue stream of state and local governments. Here in the US our form and systems of government are fundamentally different than any others. Everything is based upon our Constitution as the bedrock of law, and the Constitution serves primarily to constrain government while guaranteeing the rights of individual citizens and the various states. Perhaps needless to say, many politicians do not like having their powers and authorities limited, and the debate over the constitutionality (legal basis) of laws and programs is never-ending (I am sure confusing, if not comical, to European observers). So, a bit of an answer to your questions and a long-winded dissertation on American government and polity. Best regards.
  4. Lobo

    Cuz taxes didn't suck enough ...

    Let's see now: 50 states and 3 or 4 territories, plus the District of Columbia. Each is a separate taxing entity. Each state has counties (usually several dozen each). Each is a separate taxing entity. Each county has incorporated cities and towns (frequently several each). Each is a separate taxing entity. Then there are fire protection districts, ambulance & emergency medical districts, library districts, transportation (bus, train, subway) districts, metro districts, municipal utilities, and several other types of taxing entities. Postal zip codes frequently span multiple taxing entities, so a customer's address is not an accurate means of identifying appropriate taxing entities or tax rates. How is a small business or mom & pop shop expected to identify each and every one, calculate the taxes for each, maintain accountability for collected tax revenues, file appropriate tax returns (hundreds and hundreds of those every month or quarter), and remit collected taxes to every taxing entity? If a given taxing entity makes a complaint against a business about taxes collected or remitted that complaint will usually be handled by local authorities. How is Joe Businessman in Maryland supposed to respond and deal with such a complaint in California? Answer: pay an attorney or suffer a default judgement and tax lien. Without doubt, complying with such laws and regulations would be an extensive and expensive exercise, well beyond the capabilities of most small business operations. The likely result will be the destruction of countless smaller businesses across the country. Bad ideas make for bad law. Bad law makes for angry and disaffected citizens. Bad law, such as this, may also fuel a vast underground economy that is beyond any possible enforcement effort.
  5. Lobo

    I must look stuped ...

    I think it was P.T. Barnum who said "There is a sucker born every minute". Probably the reason some salesmen try to do business the way they do. Seriously, home improvement contractors of all trades are looking for the low hanging fruit on the tree. A job that takes $1000 in materials and $1000 in labor/overhead is frequently quoted out at $3000 to $6000. The really creative contractors have arrangements in place for financing, with a cooperating finance company offering "low, low monthly payments", and instead of talking about total job costs they sell jobs based upon the monthly payment a customer is willing to pay. Car dealers do the same thing. When a customer walks onto the lot the salesmen seldom want to talk about price or vehicle type, all they want to know is "What sort of payment are you looking for?" Buyer beware. Do your research first, then when a salesman starts into his little schtick, take your wallet with you and leave.
  6. Nice looking work there. The H&K P7 (PSP and M8) offer some challenges for the holster maker. Overall very short length, weight heavily concentrated in the grip-frame area, and that squeeze-cocking mechanism on the front grip-strap. Any holster design that contains enough of the pistol to provide reasonable security can too easily obstruct ease of draw (accessibility), and high-ride designs can too easily allow the weight to cause the holstered handgun to tip out away from the body (compromising both security and concealability). You seem to have overcome those challenges quite well. Best regards.
  7. 43 years in the leather business, of which I spent nearly 30 years hand-stitching. I started with a very basic machine, which I soon learned would not hold up to production work for my products. I then purchased another machine, which did a pretty good job, but was under strain at times with heavier work. I ended up purchasing a couple of very heavy duty machines of the type commonly used by saddle makers. Best advice I can offer is to purchase more machine than you think you will need. That way you will never strain the machine in use, each task will be handled with less time and effort, and you will probably never wear your machine out in use.
  8. I made a lot of two-layer belts, specifically intended as gun belts (good support for the weight without needing to be tightened on the waist to an uncomfortable degree to stabilize the holstered handgun). I used two layers of 6/7 oz, or occasionally a 7/8 oz. outer strap with 5/6 oz. liner strap (hard to tell them apart). Typical finished belts were about 3/16" to 7/32" in thickness (just about 6mm). I frequently cut lining straps from hides having minor imperfections, which I considered to be a good use for that leather. Plenty strong enough for the task, and any little cosmetic flaws were never visible in use. The belt I am wearing right now was made about 10 years ago and has been used almost daily to carry a full-size 1911 .45 pistol, spare magazine, and cell phone. It shows no signs of ever wearing out, and has not stretched at all in use, just conformed nicely to the hips over time.
  9. Thank you, sir. I tend to ramble on from time to time, but 43 years in the business of holster making beat a few lessons into my head, and maybe sharing those lessons will help others trying to find their way along the trail. Best regards.
  10. Those who rely upon the dummy gun makers to provide every possible need for every possible customer demand are sure to be disappointed, and on a regular basis. Last time I looked (been retired 3 years now) there were less than 100 dummy gun models available from any and all sources, good or bad, or simply indifferent. New gun models hit the market every few weeks these days, but most will never be available as dummies, and those that are offered as dummies are usually a year or so after the new pistol hits the market (the period when holster demand tends to spike). When I retired I had about 80 dummies in the shop, and 76 actual handguns in the gun safes (GREAT RETIREMENT INVESTMENT!). There were still lots of handguns that I could not offer holsters for because the demand was never sufficient to justify purchasing the gun. If you think the Colt Officer Model .45 is a big problem, start thinking about holsters for the millions and millions of revolvers still in daily use in North America (and elsewhere). Dummies are generally available for only about a dozen revolvers of all makes and models. But revolvers continue to be at least half of the demand for holsters, largely because the major holster makers have chosen to ignore the revolvers while concentrating their production on current production, high market saturation, semi-autos. I completely understand the OP's reluctance to do "close-ish" work, or produce "good enuf" holster fitting. But after 43 years in the business I can assure everyone that one either learns to adapt or you learn to step aside. I have purchased dozens of new firearms, just because the demand was there and it was time to fill orders rather than wait for Rings or Duncans or someone else to produce a dummy. Some worked out well, others became excess space-holders in the gun safes. Nature of the business, we can take it or we can leave it. When the German police transitioned to Sigs and traded in the older H&K P7-PSP pistols by the thousands there was a good demand for holsters over 2 to 3 years, so I dropped a few hundred bucks on a pistol. When the Soviet Union collapsed and Makarov pistols (Soviet, Bulgarian, East German, etc) came in by the boatload there was a good demand for holsters, so I bought one. When the Sig P238 hit the market there was a great demand for holsters, but no dummies, so I bought one. Glock 42? Ditto. Glock 43? Ditto. I could repeat the same lines for dozens of others, but the point is that demand is a matter of market cycles, and we can either ignore those cycles or we can capitalize on those cycles. By the way, I never lost a dime on any of the guns I purchased; after they sat in the safe unused for a few years I was always able to sell them for more than my investment. Just the Sig P-series pistols could leave a holster maker screaming and pulling his hair out in frustration! Same model number, different slide profiles, trigger guards, tangs, hammers, barrel lengths, and a dozen other variations without even a minor change in model designation! And another new variant announced every month or two! Enough talking about obscure or limited production guns! None of those ever saw as much use in holster making as my older guns like the S&W Model 39, S&W J-frames, Browning Hi Power, or a dozen others made a generation ago. Yes, I have a Colt Officer Model .45, too, a model that was made for a relatively brief period of years before the Defender line replaced it in the Colt line-up, and one you might have to look for a while to find on the market. By the way, no one makes dummy guns for holster makers to use in the holster trade. Dummies are made primarily for training of law enforcement and security personnel. The fact that there is demand from holster makers does not drive the market more than a small percentage; if the gun is not current production with a relatively large market share it is very unlikely to show up as a dummy gun. Ruger and a couple of other gun makers used to offer dummies specifically for holster makers, pistols made up from slight defect parts, welded together (non-functional, thus not actual firearms, but true to actual production dimensions). As recently as 5-6 years ago Sig USA would loan out any pistol in their inventory to accredited holster makers (yes, shipping charges and FFL transfer fees applied), or sell a gun at "distributor price" (below dealer wholesale). For the most part, those deals are either long gone, or the costs involved exceed the price of a single holster order, so not the best option for the small producer. Duncans will produce cast aluminum dummies from any gun you provide for them, usually requiring a minimum order of 6 to justify producing the molds and making the production run (and this might take a few months). Of course, that requires having the gun in question, paying shipping and transfer charges to and from, etc, thus is not truly viable for a one-of-a-kind order. Even if you can justify the cost of going this route you will still end up with 5 pieces that you will have to sell to regain some of your costs. For the unusual order you could always ask the customer to provide his handgun. That will only require FFL to FFL transfer both ways, shipping & insurance costs, and you should make sure that your business insurance will cover the property of others while in your custody or under your control. While you are adding up the costs you may want to consider the liability exposures you are assuming ("That scratch on the slide wasn't there when I shipped by $5000 custom-made Super-Frazbat Model XYZ Mark I Mod 2 pistol to you, so you need to replace my gun!!!!). Past 10-plus years on this forum we have beaten the "dummy gun" dead horse again and again. There is no real or complete solution, and will never be one.
  11. Lobo

    Self inflicted wounds

    When I was a little guy it cost me a fingertip to learn what lawn mowers were all about. 43 years working with leather, I have managed to cut or puncture myself just about every way that can be done. Spent a few years building houses and running a roofing company, found out there are things out there I can't order over the phone without needing bandages or stitches. Once had a guy working for me managed to nail his left hand to a roof deck while operating a pneumatic nail gun with his right hand. Oh well. Live and learn.
  12. Colt Officer Model .45 is no more than a compact grip-frame with 3.5" barrel-slide group. With a Colt Defender dummy (3" barrel-slide group) and either a Commander (4.25") or a Government Model (5") it is not difficult to pattern and form most holster designs for the 3.5" Officer Model. You may already have what you really need, or have easy access to them. Rings Blue Guns are made in the 3", 4.25", and 5" models.
  13. Lobo

    New member from Southern Colorado

    Howdy. I also live in Pueblo, Colorado. Retired cop, built a leather company from scratch, starting part-time in 1972 and retiring in 2015. My company is still going strong under new owners in Minnesota. 9 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren so I have some experience with young folks as well. If I can provide any advice or assistance I'll be happy to hear from you.
  14. Lobo

    Rhino 60ds

    Ah, the Rhino revolver! Brings to mind the old saying: BUT SHE HAS A WONDERFUL PERSONALITY AND SHE IS A GREAT COOK. In other words, just plain "butt ugly".
  15. The holster designs generally popularized by television shows and motion pictures from the late 1950's until the 1970's are usually of the 'buscadero' style, with the holster mounted to a drop-loop extension on the low side of the belt. There is little (if any) historical accuracy to the buscadero design; it developed mostly as a Hollywood trend. The popular TV western shows corresponded in time to the rebirth of Colt's Single Action Army revolver (scheduled for discontinuance by 1957) and the rapid growth of the sport of 'quick draw' competition. Supplementing demand was the company Great Western Arms, which produced somewhat crude, but cosmetically accurate, copies of the Colt's revolver (many of the actual guns used in Hollywood productions are actually Great Westerns (including 'Gunsmoke' and a number of other long-running series), both for the motion picture industry and for sale to the general public (available as finished guns or as a parts kit to be completed by the individual) at very reasonable prices. By the early 1960's Sturm Ruger Company stepped into the marketplace with their Single Six and Blackhawk revolvers. At the same time companies in Spain and Italy started production of reproductions of the early Colt's as well as Remington revolvers. All of these trends continued until the present day, and Cowboy Action Shooting and the Single Action Shooting Society grew into very large sporting events. Today the vast majority of revolvers used in such sports are Italian reproductions or modern Rugers. Today, when someone mentions 'western style' holsters and rigs it is not unusual for that person's sole frame of reference to be the styles popularized by television and movie use. In more recent years there has been a trend toward greater realism in those entertainment fields, with gun belts and holsters more in keeping with the actual products used during the 'Wild West' period (generally mid-1860's to mid-1890's). Recent productions are more likely to show historically correct rigs such as Mexican Loop, California Slim Jim, and others of the period. Holster makers wishing to work within the 'western' market need to learn and understand the differences. When a potential customer is describing a 'Hollywood western' design it will do little good to attempt to nudge that customer toward the 'real thing', and the potential customer seeking historically correct designs will close their minds against 'Hollywood' type rigs.