Wednesday, 17 February 2010
Chances are you do.
Have you thought deeply about why you hate your desk? Do these feelings have to do with your mother? There may be some Freudian thread to follow here, but I have a better answer.
Desks aren't comfortable. They aren't made for comfort, they are made to provide a working surface for your keyboard, your monitor, files, books, etc... Desks are sized based on average human proportions. Humans come in all shapes and sizes, so it should be easy to see the weakness in the foundation of desk-centric design.
Chairs are the other main component of an ergonomic workstation. Chairs come in all shapes and sizes and prices. If you're paying very close attention to all the fundamentals of ergonomic workstation design, you may be able to find a chair and a desk that suits your body, and you may be able to afford it. Just maybe, you'll get it right.
Chances are, you'll still be disappointed in the comfort efficiency of your workstation. The static placement of your display (monitor), the location of your keyboard, relative to you, a dynamic individual, is just not optimal.
Whether you spend $100 or $15,000 setting up your computer / desk / chair workstation, you're still at high risk of RSI if you log many hours each day working on the keyboard.
Repetitive stress injury (such as CTS) is a risk that arises mainly from desk-centric design.
Human-centric, dynamic design is our focus. We have been developing high-tech, low-cost solutions. Our systems prevent health problems that are rooted in our evolution beyond the desk, and our failure to adapt ourselves to the technology that is available.
Desks are antiquated fixtures that do not match today's technology - our ability to transcend the need for cumbersome desks, and our ability to operate efficiently on virtual desktops should be reflected in the furniture we buy and surround ourselves with.
Desks are no longer a necessity, yet we spend billions of dollars each year on desks. We support material gobbling industries reliant upon our willing addiction to this arcane form of self-imprisonment. It is image based slavery. We work at a computer - we sit in a chair - therefore we need a desk.
LET MY PEOPLE GO!
The long awaited technology - the platform of our future is almost here. It's called COMFORT.
Keep hating your desk - and prepare to get rid of it forever:)
When I was in the first grade, me and another kid were arguing over something VERY important and neither of us would concede.
He decided we should have an I.Q. contest to prove who was right. Had I known he was “packing” I certainly would have passed on this duel.
The winner would become the leader of the band of kids that had gathered at our elbows, and the impression would carry forward all the way to middle school. It was totally spontaneous – nobody saw it coming, certainly not me.
Mr. Smartypants: (With eyes intent) “So if you’re so smart, what’s the longest word in the English language?”
Me: (Smiling with clever foolishness) “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”
Mr. Smartypants: “WRONG! It’s Antidisestablishmentarianism,” with an authoritative smile and a confidence way too big for a first grader.
Me: “Anti what? Say it again – that’s not a word.” I said weakly.
Mr. Smartypants: “Antidisestablishmentarianism - look it up in the dictionary!”
Me: “Ok – I WILL!
I should have taken this more seriously – the other kids were siding with Mr. Smartypants! I had fewer friends suddenly, and now I was nervous. I had lost round one.
Mr. Smartypants: “Do stars twinkle?”
It seemed like a trick question and I thought I remembered it right . . .
Mr. Smartypants: “WRONG! They are always on and the atmosphere makes them LOOK like they are blinking.”
“Ya! That’s right!” Said the other kids – whether they knew it or not.
Mr. Smartypants had gunned me down with 2 shots. From that day forward, I couldn’t regain confidence in the eyes of that (mean) little gang of kids. I still had friends, but Mr. Smartypants was king. He seemed to own the class and I couldn’t live down the day he killed my street cred.
You may not remember the first grade, or maybe you don’t have kids reminding you how things worked back then. Reputations are forged, little personalities are shaped by skirmishes that seem silly by (adult standards), and leaders emerge.
Mr. Smartypants is probably a well-paid bean counter working for a fortune 500 company now. I don’t begrudge him - his Mom or Dad, or maybe his big brother loaded him up with cool facts, and when he pulled the trigger he shot to kill.
We all know people like Mr. Smartypants. They’re facile with factoids, and ready to blast a hole through (you) if you challenge them. They drive in the fast lane, unapologetic about grazing you at the cross-walk. Some are malicious. Some are confidently oblivious. Some are dangerous. They rise as you fall, like helium on oxygen, or oil on water.
I could attempt to explain why people behave this way, but for the purpose of this discussion it suffices to say that establishing your position first has inherent advantages.
Let’s go back to that word antidisestablishmentarianism. Go ahead and look it up.
It’s NOT the longest English word, as it turns out. It didn’t matter - Mr. Smartypants issued the challenge, confidently established himself first and he won. His weapon of choice was an irrelevant fact, but nobody ever said life was fair.
It is a fitting coincidence that this 28 letter word runs counter to my life's agenda, and that of every independent inventor/entrepreneur.
It is the most common mistake of an entrepreneurial undertaking, to underestimate the power of antidisestablishmentarianism (the establishment).
I’m talking to you, Mr. Inventor / Entrepreneur with the Next Big Million Dollar Idea. After all - if you were satisfied with the status quo (the establishment) you wouldn't have invented anything. You're not satisfied. You're an instigator, an agitator, and a problem solver. You see problems and you think it's your mission in life to fix them. Maybe it is!
You’ve discovered a piece of truth and you think it’s important enough to take risks that will affect your finances and your reputation. You really have no idea what you’re up against. You are blinded by the love for your brilliant product and/or the people around you who love what you’ve done. You love the dream and you want to live in it as long as possible at any cost.
Big corporations get it. They ARE it. The antidisestablishmentarian forces that hinder rapid adoption of your new technology, in favor of established products, methodology, distribution, and more importantly, the people who control distribution, cannot be over stated.
You’ve really done a good thing, there’s no question of it-you’re awesome invention is sitting right there in front of you. It’s undeniable. Ideas are free and everybody’s got them. Get ready for a random I.Q. test where the facts don’t matter as much as whether you can afford to use them.
Don’t imagine for a second that your brilliant invention and the patent you can barely afford to prosecute (or get in the first place) will equal SALES.
Don’t imagine that the sales you have made with direct bursts of effort, at trade shows, or festivals, or shopping malls, will scale up in a profitable way because it works on a small scale and scales up nicely on paper.
Don’t assume that because millions of inferior items are being sold in the mass retail channel, that yours can sell as many, or more (or even some small percentage). This is fool thinking! This is the sirens' song, guiding you into the rocks as you gaze lovingly upon your spectacular idea.
The power of massive corporations is a function of time and organization that relies on economies of scale. Read that again and try not to think about your incredible product at the same time. FORGET IT and read it again, and read it again. Spend a few weeks studying the concepts that are encapsulated in those 2 words. ECONOMIES OF SCALE.
Mass retailers already sell products similar to your idea, or at the very least they’ve developed a category for it. It looks similar (to the untrained eye) or functions less well, but it’s similar enough that the average consumer will not know the difference.
If not, they will –one production cycle right after you’ve spent too much time and money trying to educate corporate buyers for free. They LOVE people like you. You’re an expert in your field, and they are happy to pick your brain and apply your useful knowledge to their distribution models.
Think about it -who owns the attention of the average consumer? WHO OWNS IT TODAY? Big corporations. They OWN it. That distribution pipeline is THEIRS. How did that happen? It took millions and billions of dollars in advertising and the organizational efforts of thousands upon thousands of people to create these established distribution channels (Target, Sams, Wal-Mart, etc.).
Do they owe anything to the guy who comes along and improves or invents a product that might fit in their program? You guess the answer. Guess wrong and you’ll pay dearly to learn what you should be able to figure out without spending a cent if you think about it with a clear head.
Every square inch of shelf space is calculated profit. Real stores are based on models and planograms generated by experts who know how to increase the bottom line for the corporation, and who couldn’t care less if your single product is “better” than one of their products. They are already making money! Are you? And even if you are, is that relevant to their situation? Hardly!
If you think you can just convince a buyer (let alone get a meeting with one) to squeeze your fancy widget onto the shelf and replace something, you’re wrong. That space is someone’s paycheck. Someone won’t like that. Someone, or someone who knows someone, will do everything in their power to prevent you from taking a penny of their paycheck, or causing them the extra legwork to deal with your pet project.
Vendors who supply big corporations are chosen based on how many items they can produce and supply. THERE ARE NO SINGLE ITEM VENDORS ANYMORE. Read that again. Forget about setting up a factory and producing one item for mass production. If you’ve already done it – focus on the markets you can access profitably, and forget about trying to make Mass Retail see the value of working with you. It’s suicidal!
It’s too much liability for the corporation to consider allowing "your" product to enter their distribution pipeline. Vendor account setup is costly, product delivery protocol must be specified and confirmed. Non-delivery risk is just too great a liability to consider small new vendors anymore (no matter how cool the product may be). It’s much easier and more predictable for corporate buyers to speak with one of their existing vendors, ask them to investigate your idea and see if they can produce it.
Big corporations work with experienced vendors who bring dozens of items across multiple categories. Mass retail corporations setup seasonal bidding wars between vendors and reduce their number of vendors each year, consolidating and tightening the grip on profits as they go.
It doesn’t matter what you’ve invented, or what idea you think you own, no matter how spectacular. Even if it’s patented. So what if it’s the best – better than all the rest, even peerless. You won’t get on that Mass Retail shelf and make a profit worth your while.
You will end up giving it away to a trading company, who comes to you posing as a “buyers agent” for one of these corporations. Yes, they will light you up with compliments and questions, theoretical orders for 20,000 pieces of your product. If it appears you’ve got it locked up with patents, they might fly you out to China and wow you with the scale of production that happens in those huge factories, crank out a few prototypes for costing purposes, and see if they can reverse engineer it in another building, all the while wining and dining your fantasy of working with them directly. At the end of the day, they will decide how much it costs, how much they will pay you over and above cost (pennies if anything), and if the patent is weak you’ll never hear from them again and a very similar item will show up on their shelf next season without any attachment to you.
Or you might end up having it taken from you, in what amounts to a license agreement full of covenants you cannot afford to defend from your position once they start rubbing you into the wall. Trading companies are full of tricks, but it’s all about the same thing. Getting up close to you, and then getting in between you and your product so THEY can sell it to the mass retail corporation. That’s their business.
It’s almost irresistible to think that you can help a corporation by offering your product to them, and that they could help you by buying it. They are certainly glad to have your help for free and they welcome it. Buyers walk trade shows looking for the next cool idea (without identifying themselves, of course). If they see something they like, they’ll send one of their agents (a trading company) to learn everything they can from you.
WITHOUT INSIDE ACCESS TO DISTRIBUTION, you have the privilege of bleeding out slowly while enriching the establishment you’re trying to access.
But don’t stop inventing, and don’t stop developing your ideas. Don’t give up on your entrepreneurial dreams. Just don’t waste your time trying to jump on a high-speed train. That’s what Mass Retail distribution amounts to. You will lose every time.
Establish your distribution slowly, pinching every penny, and taking only the steps you can verify and afford. That pace is excruciatingly slow for someone (who isn’t independently wealthy) who is excited about a new idea. Force yourself. Avoid costly trade shows where the sharks hunt for free meals. Protect your ideas with secrecy, and with patents if you can afford to. If you can’t afford a patent, you can’t afford to protect your idea, and you can’t build very far from that position before your idea is picked up by mass retail (and it will, if the idea is truly magnificent, and starts catching on). Establish YOUR business in the spaces between established modes of distribution and grow your network organically. What that means to you will be as particular and unique as the product or idea you have developed.
Big corporations set the standards whether you like it or not. They are established, recognized by large groups, supported by a consensus, whether or not they or their products have any relevance or value in truth.
It is a monumental uphill battle to re-establish the standard. The more time that passes, the larger the consensus, the less likely you are to succeed.
I’m not trying to discourage anyone from pursuing entrepreneurial dreams. I’m here to tell you from years of experience, that the establishment is there to crush them. Don’t help them crush your dream.
Pursue your dreams with your eyes wide open.
IF you succeed, it will be the result of your dogged persistence and passion as related to the truth you’ve discovered. Your power is undeniable – the people who share your vision and love of the truth will spread the movement.
Monday, 4 January 2010
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Friday, 2 October 2009
Thursday, 1 October 2009
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
A verbose villain, named Syndrome, is bent on destroying our animated superheroes in a for-profit scheme to eliminate all superheroes...
Syndrome: ...I'll sell my inventions so that *everyone* can have powers. *Everyone* can be super! And when everyone's super--
--no one will be.
Syndrome's statement is rooted in an ideology known as Communism.
The same force drives comfort out of the hammock market.
An enormous industrial complex fuels the explosion of cheap shammocks flooding the hammock market. Google, with interests in China, holds the floodgates open for a fee.
Communism seeks to destroy individualism (i.e. intellectual property rights), and in doing so, destroy any unique strength or superiority that any individual might claim alone.
The theory is that the greater good will be served by sharing everything, allowing no one to (visibly) rise above his peers. Somehow this is supposed to allow everyone to rise.
At the core of Communism, is this lie, that by making everyone and every thing visibly equal on the surface, everyone can share wealth and comfort equally.
We know this concept is fatally flawed. The result is shared failure on a mass scale, a vast displacement of wealth and comfort, and a hidden realm of lies and deceit where lives and dreams are shattered and fortunes are secretly hoarded.
The same forces applies to hammock manufacturing and related intellectual property.
Thanks to The Comfort Compromise of The HammockSource, there are now thousands of factories in China churning out hammocks, the same as they make any other item, shaving it down by the cost model, to be as cost competitive as possible.
In China factories, hammocks are just another "item" thrown in the mix. The same mega-factory making hammocks also makes toilet plungers, ice scrapers, curtain rods, wrist watches, and literally hundreds of other "items."
There is no specialization, and no optimization of comfort built into that model.
Ten years ago, there were virtually no hammocks coming from China.
Central planners in China spread the word to every factory that can make a hammock - "this type item is very profitable! . . . 70 million baby-boomers are retiring. Hammock is in their future!"
Today, the Hammock Gold Rush is in full-swing and thousands of Chinese factories make hammocks because they top the list of "must have items" that Americans desire.
So what you, the hammock consumer, are now faced with, is a vast sea of choices.
It's ironic - choices are good right? Very capitalistic!
And yet most of these choices are shammocks.
Not surprisingly, a "Communist hammock" a.k.a. "shammock" is not comfortable.
These are Syndrome hammocks (remember our villain?) ...
You won't see a difference because now everyone is super (everyone makes and sells shammocks), and soon no one will be (comfortable).
A true hammock provides the highest level of human comfort.
However, shammocks now prevail, thanks to the Communist version of equality in the hammock market.
All products are treated equally. All products are down-graded as the shaved-down cost model is applied.
No China factory stands to make a profit manufacturing a quality hammock alongside a toilet plunger.
Every factory can make shammocks because they are nothing special.
Every factory moves some product, China moves forward.
Every China factory that can make a shammock, does so by mandate. No single factory holds a great portion of the overall manufacturing business.
The result is that there are thousands of "hammocks" for American retailers to buy direct from China at dirt cheap prices.
And there are now thousands of new retailers buying and selling them online.
Thousands of distinctions without differences:
thousands of distinct shammock models, made from dozens of materials, with dozens of print patterns, fibers, and colors, in hundreds of configurations. Comfort subtracted.
NO DIFFERENCE, no comfort, same shammock!
Think about the consequences of displacing and destroying easy access to comfort.
It's an invisible but insidious shift going on right now.
The integrity of the hammock market is in the hands of a very few people who care about comfort, and the consumers who educate themselves and talk to one another about the facts.
We work without a net so you don't have to. Keep talking, keep rocking.
My recent discoursing on the subject of rope hammocks has sparked a response from Google.
Google earns tens of thousands of dollars each day from people advertising sham hammocks through the Adwords program.
If you didn't know by now, the ads you see in the right hand side bar, as well as the top 3-5 listings when you search any term on Google, are paid advertising.
Our domain "ropehammocks.com" has held an organic rank (not paid for) at the very top of page one when you search rope hammocks, for the last year an a half.
Suddenly, it's too much negativity for the Googoobots to handle. We're driving more and more traffic to ropehammocks.com , thanks to our blogs and links from our other sites.
Threat perceived, action taken:
As of September 3, Google search shows a modified snapshot ropehammocks.com.
Now, when you search 'rope hammocks' on Google, a snapshot of the SECOND line of text on our page replaces the first line.
We did not change it!
The first line still says (quite appropriately)
ROPE HAMMOCKS = ZERO COMFORT CREDIBILITY
That was too straightforward and to the point, reflecting poorly on Google advertisers in the ad-bar, who pay to play, perpetuating the rope hammock scam.
* So Google manually revised the content snapshot for ropehammocks.com! *
Effective censorship of organic search results that conflict with paid ads.
This meshes nicely with the fact that Hayneedle, their largest hammock advertiser, has hired Google executives to run their online ad campaigns.
If the largest online "hammock retailer," Hayneedle, can't make money selling shammocks, they can't continue to pay money to Google for advertising them, and Google can't keep raking it off the top of this perpetual shammock scam (which is in end-stage collapse, by the way)
Google offers what appears to be a legitimate advertising service called Adwords.
Adwords is purportedly separate from its organic search content.
Adwords is used by online shammock retailers to such a degree that the value of hammocks being advertised must perpetually decrease as the number of advertisers increases.
Is censorship how Google handles conflicts of interest at the crossroads of organic domain listings and paid advertising?
Google is the willfully blind straight-man in todays shammock scam . . .
Google is not dumb.
It's not profitable for Google to let truth accumulate organically, or allow information to spread freely.
It's not enough for Google to control the advertising on its search engine.
Google will intervene on behalf of Googlebuddies in any lucrative industry to tamper with so-called "organic" search results when the revenues of both parties are at stake.
Googlebuddies should be able to build their empire however they choose, right?
But by this model, "Paid Information" is being consolidated on a cost model, is controlled centrally, and at every level.
"Free information" hinders paid information, and doesn't stand a chance.
In order that this can continue, Search must appear neutral, as a platform for freely distributed information.
This points out a disturbing conflict of interest (otherwise, it would seem to me that Google should be able to do anything it pleases with its search results):
1. "Free Information," is being reined in and filtered out by Google. Whether it be truth, facts, lies or opinions -Google (and Bing, Yahoo, and anyone who provides search) aims to consolidate and manipulate it for their own benefit.
2. The money for online ads funneling to Google must come from somewhere.
The fact is, that the value of the products built for and sold to Americans is in a death spiral and we're paying Google to help us enrich a Chinese Industrial Complex that supports a cheapening of all consumer products.
If the online hammock business is any indication, the products and services offered by most online retailers can hardly be any less. They pull a shoddy foreign product off a shelf in a warehouse, slap a label on it and ship it.
The buy low sell high mantra is more crucial to online sales than anywhere.
The vast preponderance of online retail startups have no allegiance to quality. They REQUIRE inputs to go down as they seek to increase profits, and with that goes quality of everything we buy, whether in stores or online.
Traditional bricks and mortar retailers have to compete with the pressure brought by online retailers. This means they offer cheaper and cheaper goods, of lesser and lesser value.
Add to this, an ever growing competitive pressure for costly on-line ads, and the model naturally drives DOWN the quality of goods available.
The scary part of it is, that as online sales explode, replacing a larger part of traditional shopping, the value of the products we buy is in free-fall.
How long until the empty images we buy online become just that? How long until that little 2" product picture you bought on the internet shows up on your door as a well-wrapped photo in a box?
The folks at Google will increasingly manipulate "organic search" for the sake of profits among paid advertisers, and in so doing, protect their bottom line.
We have come to a place in the story of capitalism where the end result of unregulated competition is a complete reversal of quality once found in the goods Americans buy and sell each other.
This is thanks in large part to a consolidation of "information" at the hands of corporate giants like Google an their alliances.
It is not free.
The Adwords slot machine where competing vendors apparently stand side-by-side with un-paid, "organic" search results, pumping in millions for the virtual attention of online shoppers, throwing adbucks at "clicks" instead of putting mortar between the bricks.
Meanwhile, manufacturers of quality goods close their doors one by one thanks to the influx of junk from abroad. Reputable retailers offering quality goods can't offer shoddy product in real-time and still keep their customers. The internet age of empty images is upon us.
Clicking around under the foundation of a shaky structure just doesn't make sense to me, brothers and sisters.
See this for what it is and do your homework carefully:
The bigger it is, the harder it falls, the worse it gets.
Click! Click! Click! Click! Click! . . . .
Friday, 4 September 2009
The anti-innovation bubble that fueled the spread of cheap shammocks is now at end-stage collapse.
Once The Hammock Source lost its grip, Big Box retailers and online retailers gained pace.
The shammock gold rush sent throngs of buyers to source the cheapest factories.
These factories made ever-cheaper products to compete and keep these accounts the next year.
Since that is not sustainable, and there is always another lower bid, the quality has gone down, and down and down with the price. With each new factory, there is an impossible learning curve - an absence of knowledge about how to build comfort.
Result - The worst hammocks the world has ever seen dominate the market today.
Shammocks are now so common as to be dime-a-dozen commodity. The supply now far exceeds demand. Shammock prices will continue to plummet.
Now that almost everyone sells shammocks, and everyone sells them so cheap, and everyone playing that game knows the score, how long can it last?
Online competition for PPC hammock ads is sucking the air out of the game rapidly now.
One-by-one these shammock re-sellers throw in the towel.
Who is picking up the pieces and growing like never before?
The company that innovates and never compromises the comfort standard:
Green Eggs & Hammocks
We developed perfect stands for hanging hammocks and hammock chairs efficiently, safely, aesthetically, and compactly.
These leisure innovations were designed to enrich future generations.
Unlike steel-by-the-pound seasonal items destined for the landfill, our designs are engineered with integrity, and built to last.
They are built to the comfort standard, not a shaved down cost model.
I filed for 2 patents in 2002 and received both patents in 2005.
Hanging Chair Stand - Patent 7040995
Universal Hammock Support - Patent 7010819
My patents encapsulated and expanded the hammock market at once. They rendered dozens of stands obsolete, in fact, all of them.
These patents mark the state-of-the-art. There are no other patents in the arena of hammock supports with an iota of value measured against ours.
Did that stem the tidal wave of obsolete shammocks flooding our markets from China and into the backyards of Americans? Of course not.
You cannot eliminate a global epidemic when one doctor administers the cure to a relative handful of patients, while the rest of the "doctors" are paid to spread the disease.
And, billions of dollars of corporate profits are at stake here. 10 years ago hammocks were somewhat uncommon items on the shelves of the typical Big Box store. And The Hammock Source supplied nearly all of them.
Ten years ago, we began introducing comfortable hammocks to many shoppers who didn't even know what a hammock was. "What do you call that thing you're laying on ?"
Now hammocks are standard seasonal fare. Every major retailer in the world offers hammocks and hammock stands either directly on their shelves, or online, or both.
None of them have a quality control or design requirement that ensures comfort and quality will be part of their offering.
Too many people are stacked in the deal. Shammocks are bought and sold 3 or 4 times before they get to you. Anything that trades hands that many times has to be made as cheaply as possible.
None of these buyers were in the hammock business a decade ago.
Now they are all in the hammock business, buying cheap goods direct from China. There is no one in the chain of command who cares about comfort, no one knows how to build comfort into a shaved down "item."
We were still a relatively small company in 2006 when our ground-breaking patents finally issued.
Rather than focusing on the marketing of our revolutionary products, we spent the last 5 years, and a large share of our resources, battling a large Hong Kong corporation bent on snaking us out of those patents and dashing us on the rocks of the legal system until we expired.
We proved fraud against that company after a grueling series of lawsuits. We have prevailed to continue in our mission of containing and undoing the viral spread of substandard shammocks and shammock stands.
Meanwhile, Mass Retail buyers all woke up to the fact that there was nothing proprietary to buy from The Hammock Source. They all began knocking off The Hammock Source and buying direct from the factory in China at the cheapest price.
Chinese factories compete with a vengeance, so the number of hammock factories in China numbers in the thousands today (and ten years ago there were less than 5).
Our patented products are still unmatched today, and that will continue to be the case because
THERE ARE NO OTHER INNOVATORS IN THIS MARKET. Mass retail has no incentive to build comfort into this model. They make excellent profits selling shammocks and shammock stnads.
Compare our products to the rest. With a critical eye you can see that we are peerless. With your eyes closed, you can feel it.
Rest in The Best™ !
Thursday, 3 September 2009
Like earthquakes and volcanoes, these massive events are the result of hidden pressures.
Tectonic plates shifting beneath the Earth gradually build up enough resistance and slip past each other, causing the earth to shake. Magma builds up beneath the Earth, breaking through weak spots in the Earth's crust, spewing forth a volcanic blast of ash and lava.
Bubbles within markets are pressure points with similar dynamics as those in volcanoes and earthquakes. Pressures build, and hidden bubbles burst, as any adult who is living through today's financial crises knows.
Take the hammock market, for instance.
The HammockSource, the former worlds largest hammock company, was the bellwether.
At the core of this company, a bubble of non-innovation, was hiding. They attended every major trade show, advertised in all the trade magazines, and occupied an enviable spot on the shelves of key Big Box retailers.
But their complacency, and the flurry of re-hashed products from year to year left a void. They had nothing proprietary other than their brands.
When they shifted most of their manufacturing to China, their largest accounts realized they could go factory direct without The HammockSource. POP!
Fifteen years ago, two sister companies (now The HammockSource), dominated the entire world market for hammocks. The Hatteras Hammock Company and Pawleys Island Hammock Company supplied hammocks to just about every familiar retailer in the world.
We bought one of their hammocks in 1996. We were utterly disappointed that we paid over $150 for a couple of wood sticks, a tangle of rope, and a fancy metal name plate. The "hammock" wasn't comfortable in the least (Shammock is a better classification).
We took aim and, during the last 12 years, developed a line of comfortable hammocks and innovative hammock stands that would knock this old company off it's undeserved perch.
When we zigged, they zagged.
We met them at trade shows where both Green Eggs & Hammocks and The Hammock Source were exhibiting their wares. When we unveiled our SUPERWEAVE™ line of ultra-comfortable Caribbean Hammocks, they soon released their Megaweave™ imitation to counter our punch (nearly an identical product by the way).
Whereas The Hammock Source offered mainly earth tones and low key colors in their line of rope and fabric hammocks, they suddenly realized that color was a good idea when we exhibited our line of brightly colored Mayan hammocks and hammock chairs. They countered at the next trade show with a line of brightly colored prints on Sunbrella fabric.
It was amazing to see this old established company following our lead and jumping out of their comfort zone to compete in ours.
But they could not follow us into the arena of innovation.
What they couldn't do, and what they haven't done for over 100 years, is innovate.
Essentially, all they did for the last few decades was change their floral patterns, and fiber configurations, and roll out a line of rugs and rockers. As for innovation and development of intellectual property within the hammock or hammock stand arena, they remained completely stagnant.
The HammockSource is now obsolete.
As I predicted back in the year 2000, they are now as relevant to the hammock business as The Yugo is to the car manufacturing business.
I saw the flaw in The Hammock Source from the beginning of my company in 1997. It's precisely why I decided to start a new manufacturing company, Global Hammocks Incorporated.
In 2001, The HammockSource still appeared to be leading the charge.
What I could not see was that their bubble had already burst.
Every design they offered lacked thoughtful engineering, and aesthetic appeal, not to mention comfort. It appeared to me that engineers had never been part of their design process.
Furthermore, there was nothing proprietary about their core product line. No patents, no intellectual property. Nothing that can't be copied.
And these are the sub-standard, comfortless models that have been copied and re-copied, flooding world markets until today. Today, thousands of Chinese factories commissioned by Mass Retailers who don't see anything but the bottom line (profit), are selling the same thoughtless junk.
The HammockSource outlasted their relevance. Failure to innovate cost them the market they once dominated.
What I couldn't predict, was the scale of the eruption and the emergence of a new force, even more difficult to contain. The market was blown wide open and the retailers once served by The HammockSource, backed the Chinese industrial complex, are the new nemeses of comfort, on a scale a thousand times larger.
Thursday, 27 August 2009
We spoke to hundreds of thousands of customers as we travelled across the USA selling our fine hammocks and hammock chairs.
We learned that the main barrier to increased sales and use of our fabulous products, was a lack of structure. We heard the same thing over and over:
"How do I hang it?"
"I love it, but I don't have a place to hang it."
Eventually, I began to draw sketches and bend wire models. During the conceptual refinement process, there was a period of weeks where I barely slept at all. I could expand this narrowing process at great length. Some other time.
I built rough scale prototypes and I tested various materials over a period of weeks.
I found a local artist who could build a close approximation of my concept, which was to be the most compact, most aesthetic hammock chair stand available.
My invention is the only UNIVERSAL hammock chair stand:
I filed for a patent in 2003, and received my patent after 3 years of prosecution.
The main markets for XCHAIR® are currently USA, Canada, Japan, and Australia.
And the buzz is spreading with each one.
Try it, you'll LOVE it!
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Green Eggs & Hammocks built and operated specialized hammock kiosks all over the country - in about 30 shopping malls from coast to coast and North to South, and attended dozens of trade shows around the country.
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Writing a book may be a little like having children. I doubt there is ever a convenient place to schedule such things, and one could easily could put it off indefinitely and miss the opportunity.
Every time The Book Idea comes up, I think to myself that our success should be more obvious. "Something Great" needs to happen before anyone cares about a book on the subject of Green Eggs & Hammocks.
I haven't ever written a book, but I am fortunate to have 2 beautiful children who remind me that growth and success is a daily process. Success is a journey, not necessarily a result or a destination. My kids remind me that great things happen every day. Sometimes it's little by little, and sometimes it's several things at once. Great things happen gradually. Sometimes I'm the only one who notices.
Success doesn't happen when the whole world notices, but the whole world notices a Great success story.
So, I will learn as I go, rather than putting it off forever trying to find a convenience that doesn't exist. I'm going to hammer away at The Book when I have moments of spare time. I love to write, and edit, and revise. The Book is a work-in-progress, and some day the completed version will be here to read, with a real title and all.
The background of my business experience is a cornerstone of my character. My character is the underpinning of our company.
It is easy to write this: I have spent the better part of every day for the last 12 years focused on building our brand awareness, designing and developing new products that increase hammock utility, and spreading the word about comfortable hammocks, and our dynamic seating innovations, one person at a time. Living it has been the ultimate challenge.
I grew up active in outdoor sports like soccer, and tennis, basketball, long distance jogging, cycling, hiking, and swimming. Each of these are physically demanding, and all require general muscle coordination plus a specific skill set, and mental acuity. I tried to be the best at everything, but I loved playing. I loved testing the limits of my body, enjoying the sport, and playing with the rules of the sport more than winning. I noticed how much that irritated people who were intent on winning at all costs, and focused on THE RULES. But I didn't care.
I grew up with 4 older brothers, and a younger sister. That was a sport all its own, requiring a tricky mix of espionage and diplomacy.
I was fortunate to grow up in a family business that my Mother began when I was about 10 years old. Her love of plants and gardening was at the root of the little venture she started on the site of an old gas station that she and my Father bought in 1984.
My Mom is an natural businesswoman, driven to improve and be the best at anything she starts. My Dad was a Professor at the Texas Tech School of Law, so his full-time occupation kept him busy. However, he was always in the background "at the drawing board" as a major part of the operation on the planning side.
I was regularly on hand at the plant nursery, from the early age of 10, helping my parents where I could, learning the ins and out of plant care, customer service, and general building maintenance renovation, and expansion. I remember long days of hot summers and cold winters working alongside my siblings and my parents, growing the family business.
It was an odd little venture that went through several business models and different products and services before settling on the "garden center/plant nursery model."
I vaguely remember that my parents planned on selling medical supplies (and plants). I remember how they worked over various names and letterhead designs, finally settling on a something like "Aero Medical" and a logo that was shaped like a blue shield. That ended before it began - no medical supplies were ever bought or sold, as I recall.
All the while we were ripping out old gas station fixtures and hauling away shattered bits of the interior. I may not have been much help, but I have mental snapshots of those days inside the old oil-change section of the building . . . tearing out benches and smashing things to bits in the process. I clearly remember the demolition phase. It was lots of fun for a crow-bar wielding 10-year old, working alongside my older brother, Mark, "breakin stuff."
In 1984, there were no Blockbuster Videos or Hollywood Videos, and the VCR and movies on tape were relatively new technology.
So the "Video and Plant Station" was the first official business name I remember. We rented VCRS and a small selection of family oriented video tapes, and sold some house plants which came mainly from my Mom's collection at home. I remember how all the plants that used to populate every corner of our house, eventually moved to the empty spaces of our little gas station - making that place look very homey and welcoming.
The downside of renting valuable items became evident as the number of VCR machines and tapes being rented exceeded those being returned. The Plant Station side of things grew naturally while the videos dropped off after a couple of years. We did end up with a fantastic library of movies, though! My sister and I had our favorites, like Superman, and Starwars, and Raiders of The Lost Ark. It amazes me that we didn't wear them out as much as we watched them
Directly across the street from our little Video Plant Station was a big successful garden center called Wolfe Nursery, part of a nationwide chain.
One of my older brothers, Mark, has a knack for creative names and one day he suggested that our name should be "Little Red Riding Hood Nursery." Since the Big Bad Wolfe was across the street:)
Little Red Riding Hood Nursery became the new name.
I can remember watching Wolfe Nursery through our windows across the street with my Mother, always hoping for some of those cars to come to our side. They had 3 times as much space, a wider selection of merchandise, a big clientele, and a parking lot that was always full or filling.
People did trickle over to our side of the street, and Little Red Riding Hood grew successful over a 12 year period. My mom became known as one of the most knowledgeable nursery-women in town. And people shopped at her nursery because of the direct personal interaction that she provided, and the unique selection of plants available no where else. Each year she added new plant selections, improved signage, built new fixtures, and renovated our old filling station. It was the most lush and enjoyable nursery experience in town.
I claim my small contributions to the success of that little nursery as well. I was a fast learner, a plant lover and an avid gardener, and I worked my tail off at mom's nursery helping customers and doing every job there was.
I worked there after school during the school year, spent summers there, sold Christmas trees in the winter, and life revolved around that nursery. Sometimes, during March, after the first shipments of bedding plants had arrived, my sister and I would wake up to frantic parents, bundling us up and hauling us down to the plant nursery at like 2 in the morning!
An unexpected freeze was cause for serious alarm, so we would often end up hauling hundreds of flats of bedding plants and packing them into every corner and space inside our little gas station. We never thought it could hold it all, but somehow we always made room for another tray of plants. Sometimes we got there too late, and I remember one such occasion when we got there a little too late. My mom was so upset, crying and trying not to show it, while directing traffic, and just beyond herself with frustration. She lost about $10,000 worth of bedding plants that night - it was a big loss, and we all knew it.
Nothing ever stopped Mom, though. She is a trooper, and her determination drove the success of that first nursery location. She saw to it that we out-performed Wolfe Nursery, and kept close tabs on every other nursery in town and within 300 miles.
As I recall, Wolfe Nursery filed for bankruptcy around year 2000. Their big store across the street became available for sale, and my parents, shrewd real-estate buyers they are, bought that property. Little Red Riding Hood Nursery ate the Big Bad Wolfe:)
Flashing forward to today, my sister, Anna, now runs Little Red Riding Hood Nursery with her husband, in the old Wolfe Nursery building. My mom has since developed another garden center called Mary Lee Gardens. It's a spectacular place - a masterpiece that is the culmination of all her experience and learning that began as a little Video and Plant Station on 34th Street.
And that original location on 34th Street, the old gas station - that has been the headquarters for Green Eggs & Hammocks and Global Hammocks Incorporated since September of 2004.
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
They brought a Mayan hammock from the Yucatan, in Mexico, where they had been traveling the year before.
This Mayan hammock was soft and gauzy looking. It had fine threads and an amazing, intricate design that was intriguing from a distance. I watched them hang it up, and watched Lisa enjoying that hammock as she read books.
My preoccupation at the lake was FISHING so I wasn't much interested in hammocks. But, as the days went on, as I wore myself out fishing, I noticed the hammock more and more. I could tell by all the time Lisa was spending in it that it must be really comfortable.
Finally, Randy saw me looking at it as I walked past, and said:
"Try it out!"
He held it open and showed me the proper angle to lay so my back would be flat (across the hammock at an angle).
I was immediately comfortable! Weightless! Speechless (almost).
The first thing I said was:
"Wow! I could sell a million of these if I could get them."
I was in the hammock less than a minute because I wanted to get back on the lake to catch dinner.
But the experience of laying in Randy's Mayan hammock, was singular, and it stayed with me.
I hadn't even mentioned that old rope hammock I had at home. I didn't even remember that I owned a hammock because the feeling was so incomparable.
I made the connection when I got home and saw my rope hammock hanging under the arbor.
I had been duped! It wasn't that hammocks are uncomfortable . . .
I began researching Mayan hammocks online immediately. I found scant references and some pictures of hammocks from the Yucatan. I continued to dig around and located a co-op in Mexico that appeared to specialize in Mayan hammock production.
I ordered a dozen different hammocks of various colors and sizes. Soon, a big bag of hammocks arrived on my door. I will never forget that first load of hammocks - opening it, and marveling at the colors and intricate patterns of each new hammock as they lay on the floor in a big pile.
I was hooked! I hung them up at home. I hung them up at my mom's plant nursery, where I worked as a salesman at the time. I told people about Mayan hammocks. I invited them to try the hammocks. I took them to friends houses and hung them there. I introduced people to the unparalleled comfort of the Mayan hammock, the same way it had been introduced to me.
People responded the same: "WOW!"
I quickly saw the opportunity and did more research. These fantastic Mayan hammocks were not available on any shelf, in any store that I could locate.
Two primary companies dominated the hammock market with rope hammocks in 1997: The Pawleys Island Company and Hatteras Hammock Company. They had accounts in every major department store and big box retailer nationwide.
I knew rope hammocks were uncomfortable from first-hand experience.
How many people had learned this the hard way? How many, like me, were seeking comfort and bought a rope hammock that provided none? Probably millions.
This was an injustice I could not ignore! This problem seemed to have a simple solution:
What if I start a hammock company that sells only the most comfortable hammocks?
Hmmm... what if?
"How did you get into this business?"
My answer is an abridged version of the following story:
It was summer of 1996. I had just finished building an arbor in our backyard, and a hammock seemed like the perfect thing to enjoy the space.
I was trying to do two things at once - relieve my aching back, and get something nice for my wife's birthday. Afterall, the best gifts are ones you can use :)
In 1996, there was no internet to speak of, and the local hammock selection was slim. The only choice was color - green rope hammock or white rope hammock.
So I bought the "top of the line" Pawleys Island Original Rope Hammock (white) at the local department store. I paid over $150 for it.
The novelty of swinging under my nice new arbor was great, at first, but I was uncomfortable within minutes. The ropes were digging into my back.
I tried to make my new Pawleys Island rope hammock comfortable. I put a blanket on it. That was softer, but it took away all the air circulation. Now I had a sweaty lumpy rope hammock.
So I laid there puzzling over the situation...
I paid for a "top of the line" rope hammock and I didn't get comfort with my hammock.
Are all hammocks uncomfortable?
I didn't have anything to compare with, so I was equally upset with the hammock as with myself for buying it.
Occasionally I would get on it and try again. Sometimes my wife and I would lay on it together... always briefly, and always leaving it with disappointment.
Our rope hammock became an avoided ornament of imagined comfort, rather than the relaxing place of enjoyment and repose I intended.