Friday, November 26, 2010

Where have I (we) been??

Well, what a long, strange road it's been.
We left the Duluth area October 31st and headed for Chicago. L wanted to go to a exhibition of packagers and cappers and so on, called PackExpo. Some very neat machinery to assist in filling, capping, labeling and packaging of goods, and OF COURSE all it takes to automate is lots and lots of cash. Still, nice to see what life could be like if this business was very profitable.

Then we left on November 1st on a 2-day drive to Texas' Hill Country. Sigh... I feel like I'm home, when I am back there. Hard to believe that I had last seen Texas in August of 2009, when my house closing happened and we loaded up a full-sized U-Haul truck and headed to MN.

We spent several days in Texas, and L got to the Alamo and was impressed at the length of the battle (several weeks, for those who do NOT know that), and just how out-numbered the Texans were in that struggle. He even actually enjoyed several bottles of Shiner Bock beer (great stuff -- y'all should try it!). I believe we left Texas on Nov. 6th and arrived back in Lutz/Land-o-Lakes on the 7th. And "enjoyed" a flat tire on the trailer about 70 miles of so away from our destination. Always something interesting with at least one of our "fleet" of vehicles, at some point in our travels! Last year we had problems with the F350 on our return to MN in April.

L had been working with someone at a major home-shopping-type network for about a year, trying to get them to carry/distribute his glass cleaner product. And try as he may, he could not get a purchase order from them before we left for Chicago and Texas. But we got to FL and THEN the p.o. came thru. Well, there were so many loose ends that L felt compelled to go back to Duluth and do what he could to shepherd this order into production. That order was for 2,500 single-unit orders, all going to Germany for a European "cousin" of this shopping network. His operation is SMALL, folks -- hand-labeled, hand-capped bottles... very labor-intensive. It required using some outside labor for labeling, and then overtime for those of us who could/would be able to produce this quantity.

Without going into a lot of detail: we DROVE back from FL to MN, non-stop (except for refueling and potty breaks), leaving FL at noon on Nov. 16th (Tues.) and arriving at 3 pm the next day. Completely exhausting -- I fell asleep behind the wheel as we were getting VERY close to Duluth. Fortunately, he was NOT sleeping and guided the car back from the right shoulder to the right-hand lane lane. I snapped awake at that point and yes, we DID switch out drivers at that point. I had been awake over 30-plus hours by then. I do NOT sleep well in cars, no matter how tired I am. Unless I am behind the wheel for 5 hours at a time or more , apparently.

I can't tell you how many hours we put in, getting this order ready for pick-up. And the labor costs were higher, due to the last-minute nature of this order. But the important thing is that this order WAS generated, and now sales in Germany will tell when the next order will come through. The rep that L is working with, hopes to bring this product also to Great Britain and (we hope) to the U.S. market, as well. Those of you who ARE familiar with L's line of products will NOT see this under his own label, if it is ever on national-shopping network(s). It is under a private-label product line. It was strange, I must say, to see the instructions converted to German, on this new product's label!

Please note that we did NOT drive non-stop on the way back to FL. We left at 1 am on Saturday, Nov. 27, arriving back here in FL around 8 pm on Sunday. And I'll try to post some more detail on that.

BTW - we were SO fortunate to experience snow on this visit to MN, too. Sigh... is that REALLY a necessity?