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January 6, 2018   

            First, let me wish any of you reading this a happy & healthy 2018.  I wish there was a magic formula for catching up on my backlog ..........but there is not.  In addition to my wife's surgery and recovery, there were several reasons my backlog got so long last year.  I don't wish to make excuses, but I feel my clients deserve to know the why I fell behind.  I had several very large full body pieces that took up a lot of time.   I also had a good number of African mounts - some complex, that required a lot of alterations & custom work.  I had a lot of badly damaged deer heads - making repairs slows me down.  All of these things kept me from completing the 2014 work until the middle of 2016..........about the time my wife's health took a turn for the worse.  A perfect shit storm, as it were.

       Right now I am just starting on the 2015 work.  There is simply no way I can catch up except by continuing to work on the pieces already in the books and reducing the amount of incoming work.  I already work 50+ hours a week and am not going to work all day, every day.  I have a "honey-do" list like most of you, as well things I need to do outside work, snow to shovel, lawn to mow, etc. etc.  

     I have all the fish & ducks from 2015 skinned & have about 1/2 of the ducks mounted and drying.  Next week, I will start mounting the fish from the first 1/2 of  2015 while the ducks dry.  I hope to start on the deer & bear from the fall of 2015 later this spring.  I wish I could give more accurate completion estimates, but I cannot.  Check the Work Schedule page - I will try and update regularly.

           This year I will turn 60 and like most "milestone" birthdays - one reflects on the time we have left and what we want to do with that time.  I enjoy what I do and plan to continue doing taxidermy as long as I am physically able.  But -  I have a great many other interests as well that I would like to pursue before I tip over.  I NEED to reduce my backlog as I approach (or even contemplate) retirement.  So I have decided to do the following:
1.  I was very successful in reducing incoming work last year by NOT accepting new clients.  I will continue to accept work ONLY from clients I have previously done work for until I complete all the work from 2015.  If I have mounted something for you before - you are always welcome to bring in your animals for mounting.  My goal is to get to under 1 year completion time for my clients.

2.  I will maintain my hours  -
Mondays ~ Thu - Noon to 6pm   ~  Fri, Sat & Eve by appointment ONLY
Please remember - as this is a 1 person business, I may have to close occasionally during posted hours for personal reasons.  And due to the large number of telemarketer calls, I am now screening all incoming phone calls.  I also cannot always stop what I am working on to pick up the phone.  Please call before driving any distance and be sure to leave a message so I can either pick-up or call you back to confirm.
3.  I am holding prices at the 2017 level and continue NOT accepting credit cards.
    I wish to sincerely thank everyone for the well-wishes for my wife's recovery and for your extraordinary patience.  I am farther behind than I ever wished to be and you are waiting longer than you expected to get your mount back.   99.9% of you have been extremely understanding and that has helped me focus on getting the work done.   Should you run out of patience and can wait no longer - please call me.  I'd rather cancel your order and let you take your mount elsewhere than have you get angry over the excessive delay.  I understand and will waive the cancellation fee for anyone.   I will refund your deposit, in full or part - depending on how much work has already been done.

Have a great year, be safe, be healthy and get out there and HAVE FUN!

update - July 24, 2018
    My wife is continuing to recover and her heart is regaining some of it's strength.  She has returned to work and is dong well.  I truly appreciate all the patience and understanding you have shown me and I will continue to try and close the backlog. 

   But sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel turns out to be a train and it seems new responsibilities in my personal life have cropped up this year.  Last fall, at the same time my wife was having her surgery, my mother's Alzheimer's took a turn and she needed to be placed in a memory care facility.  This year my father's health - both physical and mental - also began deteriorating.  He was involved in 3 car accidents since last fall and hospitalized several times for that.  He was also suffering from black-outs & as a result had several bad falls and was recently diagnosed with a form of epilepsy.    My parents live about 3 hours away in IL - so I have had to make numerous trips to assist them this year.  We began the process of moving them to Oshkosh in June.  This has also been a time-consuming endeavor and it's not quite done yet.  
Unfortunately, I cannot be in 2 places at once.  Trips to Illinois and time helping my parents and getting them moved has caused me to again loose time working in the shop doing taxidermy. Finding a place, doing all the legal paperwork and making the move is a very involved process I have discovered.  As I am the closest geographically and emotionally to my parents and most of the transition has dropped in my lap.   I have chosen to put the health and safety of my parents before my work - I hope everyone can understand that.

     I will continue to work my way thru the backlog and try to get caught up.  I will continue to take work from previous clients ONLY - probably for the remainder of this year at least.  I was successful in taking in far fewer pieces in 2016 and 2017 and hope to be able to shorten the completion time within the next year or so.    If you can no longer wait, please call and I will return your mount and refund your deposit - minus any charges for work that has been done. You can continue to follow my business Facebook page updates or check in on my Work Schedule page to see where I am at.

    Once again - thank you - for your business, for your patience and for your appreciation of my work.  I have been very blessed to be able to make a living doing something I enjoy for folks that appreciate my efforts.         




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Nov. 9, 2017

After more than a month of dealing with doctors, hospitals and tests, I am finally able to be getting back to work. My wife's surgery went well and she is recovering nicely. Thanks for everyone's support, patience and understanding.

I am returning to my normal business hours -
noon to 6 pm ~ Mon - Thurs. However, there are still a few follow-up Dr. visits that may interfere with that. Please call ahead to make sure I am open and in the shop before driving over.

I will continue to take work from previous clients (or family members) ONLY for the remainder of the year. I wish you all a safe and successful deer season and enjoy your Thanksgiving and the holidays. I know I have much to be thankful for.
 
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Sept 21, 2017

     Some unexpected & very serious medical problems for my wife will cause my normal studio hours to be greatly affected.  I will try to be open as often as I can during my normal hours (noon - 6 pm Mon - Thur) but doctor visits, medical tests & physical therapy sessions, etc. may cause me to have to close in the middle of a day.   FOR THE NEXT FEW MONTHS - PLEASE - CALL AHEAD.  You may or may not find me working in the shop, so it would be best to call and make an appointment for pick-up or drop off.  Please call and leave a message or  you may also call my cell phone - 920-428-3691 and leave a message.  I will get back to you ASAP.  I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.

   
The disruptions to my work days will also NOT help me close the completion gap in the near future.  I will be working as much as I can to stay on schedule, to complete as much work as possible and handle the incoming work at the same time - but her health and recovery are at the top of my priority list.    


     While the plan below has helped slow down some of the incoming work, I still had a large amount of work come in during 2014, 2015 & 2016.  A larger number than expected of more scene mounts & complex pieces have slowed down my completion schedule.  I decided earlier this year to ONLY take in work from previous clients (spouses & family members included) during all of 2017.  So far - this has really cut the number of fish & bird mounts brought in to date. 


As I work my way thru the previous years work load, I ask for your continued patience and
I thank you for understanding.
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Jan 1, 2017 - Price Increases

Well, at some point I had to do it and unfortunately the time is here.  I have not raised my prices since 2013, and have absorbed the increased cost of paint, forms, eyes, driftwood, foam, shipping and delivery, insurance and all the un-seen costs that go into running a business.  Average prices are up about 5 - 6% overall and are effective immediately.  There are new price lists available in the studio and on-line prices are also updated.  To prevent lazy taxidermists and price shoppers from just copying my on-line prices, the list is a little hard to find, but you can access it here - http://www.simpsontaxidermy.com/prices.htm    Prices for gameheads, fish, full mammals, rugs, and misc. items are available there.

The new prices for birds are located here - http://www.simpsontaxidermy.com/BIRDS.htm  

Prices for replicas have remained the same (cost + $7.50 per inch for prep & paint)  but Sturgeon replicas and composite mount prices have increased slightly.  You can see the new prices and info here - http://www.simpsontaxidermy.com/Sturgeon.html  


I hope to be able to maintain these prices for the next few years, but  if costs for materials and business operations increase, then so must the prices.  I appreciate the support and loyalty of all my clients and look forward to working with you for many more years.  Have a great 2017 and have fun afield.  

 

Feb. 5, 2011 - Plan to Reduce Backlog

To all my great clients that make it possible for me to make a living doing taxidermy,

I want to thank you for your patience, your appreciation of my efforts and your continued support.  Without all you folks, I might have to get a REAL job!  

Over the years I have struggled with various ways of trying to reduce the backlog of work, but without sacrificing any of quality you expect and still continuing to treat all my clients fairly. While many of you don't understand why I have such a large backlog or why I cannot seem to shorten it up - the vast majority of you are willing to wait in order to have me mount your trophy anyway.  Please keep in mind, I never wanted to have a backlog of more than 24 months of work.  And from a business sense and a customer service standpoint - it's definitely not what I want.  Ideally, I would like to be able to complete all  work within 12 months.  

There are really only 2 ways to reduce the backlog - increase output or decrease incoming work.  Over the years, I have tried several methods of reducing the volume of work, with little success.   Some taxidermists raise their prices until they reach a level where only a few can afford them.  While this does reduce the amount of work - I feel it would force many of my loyal clients to go elsewhere and end up with lesser quality work.   Some taxidermists specialize and will take only birds or only deer heads.  This also reduces the volume, but I enjoy doing a wide variety of work and I'm pretty darn good at it.  I also have a difficult time taking the "easy" mounts from a client, then turning him/her away when they want something mounted that is more difficult or less profitable.  

Other taxidermists hire unskilled helpers and then train them to work in the shop in order to increase output.  This results in a lower quality mount in almost every instance while at the same time increasing costs.  There are no corners that can be cut if the goal is the highest quality mount.  Some "farm out" or sub-contract certain types of mounts (fish and being birds being most common) in order to increase output - but this results in having very little control over the finished mount - not good for you or me.

I have tried taking work only from previous clients, but this has resulted in confusion among my established customers as well as the new ones.   Many "heard from someone" that I was not taking in ANY new work at all and rather than call me and ask - they went elsewhere and were disappointed with the results.   This was not what I wanted to achieve.  

A combination of bad economy, long backlog  and poor deer season resulted in reducing the amount of work in 2009 by a substantial amount.  That should help me shorten the completion time once I begin the 2009 work.  In order to maintain a shorter completion time, however, I am going to try a new idea that, if it succeeds, will maintain the shorter completion time AND the quality, artistry and professionalism you have come to expect.  

I have been going over my records from years past, looking at the number of each different type of mounts I have taken in over the years.  In other words, how many gameheads, how many fish, how many birds, etc. have I taken in each year.  Based on those numbers, I can determine a "cap" or maximum number of each different category of mounts I can do in a year.

This is my plan - I will accept any work from ALL clients until I have reached 50% of the CAP amount in  each category. Once I have reached this goal, I will ask clients if I have done work for them before  & accept work only from previous clients & their spouses (or those with a referral from a previous client) in that category.  I tried it last year during the deer season.  Beginning Sept. 1 -  I had a CAP (or maximum goal) of 30 gameheads for 2010 season (deer, antelope, elf, etc.).  By the time the archery season ended I had 15 heads checked in, so for the entire gun season, I only took deer in from previous clients. The end result - 31 deer heads by the end of Dec.  Any client rejected because of the cap can bring the mount in after the new year.  And I will always accept work from previous customers - it does not how much work you had me do or matter how long ago it was done.

My goal with this plan is to deliver the same high quality work with less of a wait time.  

Confucius said - a man who loves his work never truly works a day in his life.  I take great satisfaction in creating a personal work of wildlife art  for my clients and in knowing that, each time they gaze at it, they are transported back into that wonderful outdoor experience.  Thank you for making it possible & have a great 2011,

Red

 

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