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2011

April 20, 2011

We have had a very busy week scheduling this week and we are running wide open which is great.  The weather has been really crazy with hit and miss good riding days but it is definitely getting warmer and when it gets warmer we get busier. We just finished filling up all of May but still have some dates in May if you are planning on riding in.  Just like ship in seats you need to call and schedule for ride in appointments.  So currently we are scheduling the first of June.

Picked up our new Juki sewing machine on Monday and what a beast this thing is.  Our other Juki is about 5 years old now and is a great machine and the new one is a heavier duty machine for sewing thicker leather which we have been doing a lot of here lately.  One reason for getting another machine is so we can have one dedicated to motorcycle seat covers and the old machine will be dedicated to working on our new bag liners.  So now we can have one person working on cover and another working on bag liners at the same time. All I need to do now is make a new cutting table for the bag liners and we'll be set up and should be full bore into the wind on everything.

This coming Friday April 22nd we will be closed for Easter and will re-open on Tuesday April 26th.  I will still be answering emails some over the holiday but I won't be as quick on them as usual.  I have been fighting Bronchitis for about 2 weeks now and the Doc said I need to rest but with work being like it has been I haven't been able to rest much but I am over this long weekend and hopefully will be back 100% when we return to work.

I hope everybody has a great Easter and can get some riding in.  Till next time be safe and enjoy the ride.

April 15, 2011

Time is flying by this year.  Can't believe we are almost half way through April already.  Scheduling has been really strong this this year and we are staying right on schedule.  I was going to do the update last Tuesday but we had a storm come through Monday night that killed the power and took out the phones.  We didn't get to open till after lunch when the power was restored and this did set us back a day but like mentioned before we are rolling right on schedule now.

If you haven't noticed we have a brand new website design.  I have go to Thank Ron at Carolina Cyber Solutions for all his hard work updating the look of the web site and bringing the site up to date with the latest technology.  I need to go through it and update some of the text and wording but the new look is awesome and is easy to navigate which is what our customers ask for.

The new custom bag liners have really taken off.  So much so that we are adding a new sewing machine to our arsenal of tools plus making new cutting table.  Usually when we release something new it takes a little time to get going but these things are doing great and I think we have really developed a great product that not only looks good but serves a purpose by protecting the stuff you put in the saddle bags from getting all scuffed up.  Once I get caught up on the orders we have I will also be designing the liners for the tour pack and road glide glove boxes.  I have a tour pack but I am going to need someone local who will loan me their chopped tour pack so I can design the liners for them also.

With gas prices climbing like they are that is going cut down on our shows this year.  I had planned on this year being our busiest year yet with show dates.  I do know we will be at the Hog Happenin in Lincolnton NC June 3-4 and we will be at the NC State HOG rally Aug 18-20 but it is a very good possibility that we may drop Sturgis this year.  Diesel just hit $4 a gallon which is twice as much as it was last year so that will cut into the profit margin a good bit for the 3500 mile round trip.  Last year our fuel bill to Sturgis and back was around $950 so this year we would be looking at $1800+ if the prices keep going up like they have been.  I drove the truck this past weekend and saw diesel for $3.95 a gallon and thought I should fill up the truck and didn't then yesterday I had to pick up some stuff at the hardware store and thought I would fill it up.  Pulled up to the pump and it said $4.08 a gallon and I kept on going.  I won't put any diesel in her till I need to use it again and then it won't be much.

Till next time be safe and enjoy the ride, summer is almost here!

March 27, 2011

Another fast couple of weeks and I again find myself running behind.  We have been putting in some really long hours but we are running right on schedule on the scheduled seats.  This year has started out really strong.  I am not sure what has happened though, right after the earth quake in Japan I noticed the scheduling started falling off a little which was a little wierd but after talking with some of my buddies in other parts of the motorcycle business they have noticed the same thing.  But as I say that this past week I noticed things starting to pick up again so I don't know if it was directly effected by what happened over there or not but it seems things are starting to go back in the other direction.

This past week we started shipping out our new Harley Davidson Saddle Bag liners which was really cool and we even had a ride have them installed which is even cooler.  Our liners are nothing like the cheap liners you find on EBay and aren't made out of trunk liner.  Our liners are fully removable and are padded to protect whatever you put in them and ours don't only function but they look cool and add a custom look to the bike.  The inside of the stock saddle bags just have a bland look to them but no need for that any more.  The thing I really like about them is they are made right here in the USA in our small shop right on main street in Maiden NC.  Currently we are offering them for the Stock Harley Davidson touring bike saddle bags but we will shortly be offering them for stretched saddle bags also and will be offering for others in the future.  Be sure to check out the Mean City Cycles saddle bag liners and order you a set today, these things ROCK!

We will not be going to Thunder Beach this year and it looks like our rally dates may have other cuts from the list to.  Some of it is due expense of doing them but another reason is man power.  We just don't have the man power right now to keep the shop running and work the rallies.  We will be setting up some this year but I am just not sure when and where right now but will post the rally dates as soon as I know.

We have gotten a little further out than I would like to be on scheduling but our turnaround time is still overnight and all of our customers like the system we have in place.  I can't help but find myself laughing a little at guys who called or emailed several weeks ago and asked what date we are scheduling for and then say well,  I will call you back when its closer to the time I need my seat done and when they call back instead of being 2-3 weeks out on scheduling we are 6-7 weeks out.  They always say "It was only 2 weeks out when I talked to you last time but then we tell them we have had days where we will fill up 2-3 days in one day.  You better schedule when you call or you may not get your seat done in time.

Thats going to wrap up this weeks whats new.  We have a long week ahead of us.  Till next time be safe and enjoy the ride.

March 15, 2011

Where does the time go.  The past few weeks have just been crazy and I have several different things I need to put out in this week's up date.  First, we will NOT be setting up this year at Thunder Beach.  I won't go into the details of why we won't be there but we won't...sorry to everybody who was planning on seeing us there again, hopefully we will cross paths at another event.

Second thing I need to cover is scheduling.  If you want to have your seat worked on please call us and schedule.  If you just send the seat in unscheduled we will put on the date that we are scheduling when it arrives and that could be 2 plus months out.  There are no exceptions unless you want to use the express service.   We schedule everything and that's the way we work.

Okay, now for some cool stuff that has been in the works.  Looks like we are about 2 weeks out before offering our new Harley Davidson saddle bag liners. I started this project a month or two ago and was mostly just doing them for my bike but guys who have seen them have been asking for a set of liners also so we are going to start offering them.  I always hated putting stuff in my saddle bags that could get scratched up because the plastic saddle bags would scuff it every time and never put a pair of glasses in them, they would be so scratched up you couldn't see out them.  So, our new liners will take care of that and they look cool too.  We will be posting pictures soon on the website so keep any eye out for them.

Our cover work has really increased this year and if you want to get a new cover or have a custom cover made please call us so we can discuss this and let us schedule it for you.  Again turnaround time is super fast when you schedule and we really have to plan a head on cover work more than we do the seat modifications because the covers take a lot of time to make.
We have a great looking weekend approaching and we are supposed to be near 80 degrees so I am sure we'll have the bikes out and riding this weekend so with that being said lets wrap up this week's update and I will try to be a little quicker on the next one.

Till next time be safe and enjoy the ride.

February 11, 2011

Sorry to all the faithful readers who read the what's new update frequently, to say that we have been busy the past few weeks would be a mild understatement. We have been busy but I need a word that means busier than just busy. It's not a bad problem to have really but it does make the days go by fast and I don't have much time to sit down and write a update.

We have a lot of cool stuff in the works right now and it amazes me how far we have come from the first modified seat 7 years ago to where we are now and the modifications we offer. The cover work has really boomed this year and I am actually thinking of adding a second sewing machine. We have had two for a long time but I sold the old Consew machine a few months ago because we never used it and I knew if we were to start using it that the sewing done it wouldn't be as good as our Juki. The old machines are good, don't get me wrong but the new machines are great. Technology has brought them a long way and the prices aren't that bad really for the new technology that has gone into them. Now, we do not use the computer operated machines, we have to sit down and sew just like we it's always been done but these new machines are so smooth.

We are right at a month out on our scheduling which is good in one way but bad in another because we have never been a month out this early in the year. Usually mid March we hit the month out scheduling date and by the end of April we are around 6 weeks out. It is a good sign that business is picking up but I don't like getting to far out because some people look at a large back log as a deterrence from sending their seat and we end up having to explain why we schedule. This time of year most people aren't worried about turnaround time especially with all the snow that has been falling but once we hit the spring and summer months our overnight turnaround works great although we use this system year round.

I want you guys to meet our newest employee Robbie Norris. I have known Robbie for several years now and he fits in great to our business. Robbie has been painting custom bikes for over 20 years so when he approached me for a position it was a no brainer to bring him in. He has a great eye for detail and has artistic talent that I can only dream of having. No, we are not going to start offering custom painted seats but Robbie and I are looking at maybe bringing custom paint into MCC's line up some time down the road. So, if you call to schedule and you get Robbie on the phone be a little patient with him because he is learning the way we do things around here and he is still learning what all we do but he is picking it up fast. Robbie has a Honda VTX 1300 that he rides so he is a rider just like we are and understands the need for a good comfortable seat.

Well I have wrap this up the phone is starting to ring off the hook again. Till next time be safe and enjoy the ride.

January 21, 2011

Another busy week is getting wrapped up and things are starting to really ramp up. Every year the business continues to grow and this year is no exception. Last year at this time we had scheduled 148 seats by the 21st, this year we have scheduled 193 and we still have today to schedule. We always ask how people hear about us. A lot are off forums on the net, friends and riding clubs and the ones that make me really smile are the people who say they were out riding and were taking a break and another rider rides up and they start talking about seats the rider recommends them getting in touch with us, that is really cool plus we get a lot of repeat business which is super good because that means we are doing our job right and the customer was happy. Then there are dealerships, I am not talking about the small indy shops although we get a lot of recommendations from them too but it's the Harley shops and other dealerships. Heck these guys you would think that they would want to try to sell them a aftermarket seat but they recommend us instead, that ROCKS!

We have a big announcement coming in the next week or so about a new service we will be offering. When I started MCC 7 years ago I had a lot people tell me that my prices were to low and we needed to charge more. I personally thought the prices were pretty fair but I knew we were a lot less expensive than the other guys offer what we offer. I had guys in the business even email me telling they wouldn't even take the cover off a seat for what I was charging to do the modifications. Then when I went full time with the business I had friends and people telling me it won't make it and when we moved into our new location even the mayor of Maiden asked me if I thought there was enough business in Maiden to make it. The naysayers are the guys I have to thank the most for our success because that has really driven me to push on with the business and it keeps me focused even today to keep charging ahead. So this announcement coming up has seen the same responses and people are saying you can't do that. All I tell them is watch. Now I don't want you to think everybody has always given me a negative response on the business because they haven't. I have had a lot of support from friends and family over the years and I have to thank them also for believing in me and the business.

When I was in the Navy I had a senior chief who had just arrived on my ship about a month before me and his job was as a drill instructor and he was hard core. There are several things I will always remember about Senior Chief Morgan, he always called me Jim(My first name is James)and I would tell him I go by Allen and he would say "okay Jim". The other thing was his work ethic and he expected you to have the same. When you were on Navy time he expected you to be doing something constructive, all the time. I have tried to carry that over into the business as well, just ask my guys...I am pretty hard core about what we do and they all understand customer satisfaction, if we didn't have satisfied customers then we wouldn't be in business. Thanks Senior Chief, a lot of MCC is you man. Oh I have to tell one quick Navy story. I think it was my 22nd or 23rd birthday, we were anchored in Haifa Israel, Israel ROCKS! Anyways, Senior Chief and my buddy Bob all go out for the night. We find this little bar, pretty much a hole in the wall. There was a guy outside with a falapha stand. We walk in, it has about 3 booths on one side of the wall and 4 on the other and a bar. We go over and sit down in a booth and a girl comes from out back and being sailors of course we all ordered a beer. On the second round the guy with the falapha stands comes rolling into the bar with it and takes it back behind the bar. Next thing you know he is bringing us food off the stand. He brings over a bowl of cucumbers that are sliced in vinegar(we call them pickled cucumbers here)I like pickled cucumbers and apparently Bob and Senior does too. There is one left floating in the vinegar and we all look at each other and reach at the same time for it. From there the cucumber gets airborne and is flipping through the air in slow motion. We all watch it with eyes wide open and mouths dropped as it gently floats through the air flipping till it hits the dirt floor and I swear there was small dust cloud pop up as hit. We all looked at each other and then Senior chief reaches down and grabs it off the floor and in swift movement from the floor straight to his mouth it is gone. Bob and I looked at each other thing what the hell was that. We look at Senior and he said "Damn that was the best one right there" and took a swig of his beer and just smiled. We gave him hell about that till the day he left the ship. There was no way I would have even touched the floor of that place, it looked like camels had been in there sleeping on the floor.

Okay, enough of that. Time to get back to work. Till next time be safe and enjoy the ride.

January 15, 2011

What a week...WOW! First we get hit by snow and ice on Monday and Tuesday, then all this comes on top of having a really full schedule lined up for this week. Then add in a super busy week scheduling and it's hard to get work done when you're on the phone more than you are working. It all added up to some really long days but we have pulled it all off and are right on schedule where we are supposed to and the good news is we are supposed to be warming up some over the next few days also so life is getting better.

Our cover jobs have really picked up this month and we have been knocking those out and I believe we are going to see a big increase this year in our cover work. When MCC started I always thought this would be our mainstay but our seat work has always been and most likely will be but it's good to be able to offer covers too. Thinking out loud here I really need to get all the cover work pictures to Ron so he can get them posted on the site also. Keep an eye on that section to see some of the custom cover work we have been doing that past several months.

Scheduling has really picked up and we are scheduling the second week of February now which is awesome and we have even add a few seats a day to the schedule to try and keep the wait time down. But as always our turnaround time rocks and 99% of our customers understand how it works and appreciates it but there are still some who just send their seats in unscheduled and call every other day wanting to know if w have their seat or when it will be done...we love you guys too but if you would have called and scheduled you would know what day it will be completed on. All of the scheduling information is right here on the web site.

I am still working on rally dates so nothing new there. So far we are schedule for about 7 or 8 events so far and here I am thinking out loud again, I need to get that information to Ron also so he can get that posted on our Rallies page. I am getting slack.

The ATV/motocross seats have really taken off and I am really excited about what we are offering. I think this has been a untapped market and from what I have seen so far what has been being offered is overpriced and poor quality. I have seen some nice covers but they were all over priced and the covers that are comparable to our prices I would be embarrassed to sell and wouldn't put our name on it. We have been working with ASR Graphics on a new logo for the race seat work and hopefully will have that ready soon.

That's going wrap up this week's update, I could sit here for hours and hours talking about everything but I have to go pick up supplies so we can operate so till next time be safe and enjoy the ride.

Till next time be safe and enjoy the ride.

January 3, 2011

I hope everybody had a great Christmas and New Year. We didn't get much time off this year with the holidays falling on a Saturday but honestly it was too long for me. I find myself becoming a workaholic and hate being away from the shop or maybe I just miss being at the shop at times, I am not sure which it is.

Just as previous year's right after Thanksgiving the scheduling and seats coming in really starts picking up and the week after Christmas is the big kick off for starting our busy season and this year isn't any different. We actually scheduled forty one seats last week and that put us well over two weeks out and we are working on going three weeks out this week and that is bumping up our daily production a extra seat a day and the week we are scheduling now we have bumped it up an additional seat also trying not to get too far behind on the back log. As of right now January 3rd we are scheduling the 24th of January.

Right before the Christmas holiday we threw together a ATV/Dirt bike seat page and got it up on the website and it is under the Race Seats button on the website. The word is getting out and we are getting more and more of these seats every week now and I really think this part of the business is going to take off like a wild fire. There are several big companies making aftermarket seat covers for this market but I haven't found anyone offering the modifications we are offering and when you compare our prices to the seat cover prices we are usually lower than what they want for just a cover and we are offering the modifications to the seat and a new cover in one low price so I really think this is going to be a big deal for us in 2011 and the future.

One thing I have been meaning to mention that I keep forgetting to. If you are ordering a seat heater to be installed in your seat while being modified, please let us know this as soon as possible. When scheduling we put all this on the schedule and the past several months it has been hard to keep the seat heaters in stock. We have had several come in wanting seat heaters but all the heater units we had in stock were already applied to existing orders and if we get your seat the day before it is scheduled to be worked on and see that you have requested a seat heater there isn't any way we can get a unit in house overnight and it usually takes 2-3 business days to get a unit in. So to keep things rolling through the shop smoothly please let us know as early as you can so we do not delay your seat being completed.

As I am sure many of you have noticed, gas prices are starting to rise again. The reason I mention this is because gas prices will have a effect on the rallies we attend and if they get too outrageous may cut us out of some of the rallies for 2011. The past two years we have been able to go about anywhere we wanted to but a good example of how much it cost us in fuel to go to a rally in Sturgis at the current price which I just paid $3.31 a gallon for diesel today. If the prices do not go up any more it would cost us $1059.20 for the round trip, if gas goes up to $5 a gallon like they are predicting then the fuel cost would be $1600. Last year our Sturgis fuel bill was just over $950 so it would almost double in a year's time. Plus, when the fuel prices go up the attendance goes down so that would mean less work for us, so it's going to be an interesting year to see how this all plays out.

That's going to wrap up this week's update. Till next time be safe, stay warm and enjoy the ride.

December 15, 2010

Another busy week this week and just as in previous years things are ramping up for the upcoming 2011 riding season. The bad thing is we still have what looks like a messy winter to get through. We have already had two snows this year and they are calling for snow starting tonight and carrying over into Thursday. I hope it doesn't but the way this year has gone I feel pretty confident we are going to have a mess just so it throws our schedule off.

We have been working hard on our new ATV and motocross seat modifications. We are developing these with the hard core racer in mind but what is really cool is it is going to give the avid weekend rider a seat that they will never need to replace. I am really excited these new modifications and I don't really think there is anybody else offering what we are going to be offering this group of riders. We have worked on ATV and motocross seats in the past but we are putting a lot of thought in these modifications and have several racers who are going to be running our seats in 2011 so we will be getting feedback weekly from them on what we need to do to improve the seats for them and that will carry right over to the modifications we offer. This will really be a win/win because we will learn more about how our modifications work in extreme conditions taking brutal punishment and what we need to do to prevent this from happening. Knowing this will not only help us on these seats but also our street bike seats, I don't know why we haven't gotten into this before now.

We have ramped up our daily schedule a little to try and keep us at two weeks out since orders have started increasing. We got over two weeks a couple weeks ago but made adjustments and now we are right at two weeks out again, I don't like going over that but once we hit the peak season then there isn't anything we can do to keep there because we just have too many seats coming in and we would be working 24 hours a day and still lose ground. Right now is the prime time to schedule if you want to get your seat done. It's kind of funny because November and December we get around 20-30 phone calls a day and usually schedule 3-5 seats then in January we will get about the same number and we'll have 20-30 people schedule then the guys who called back in November and December will call and want to schedule and we will be booking April or May and they will tell us they are going to Daytona and need the seat done before then and the only option then is to use the Express service where if they would have scheduled when they called they would have their seat back already and would be ready to ride, it happens every year. Don't wait guys now is the time.

This will be the last update till after Christmas, our web guy is going to be gone next week and won't be back till after Christmas so I just want to tell everybody to have Merry Christmas and please be safe in your travels.

Till next time be safe and enjoy the ride.

 

December 3, 2010

Another busy scheduling week this past week. I figured it would be a pretty good week and just like the past 6 years work is starting to pick up. Usually October and November are our slowest months and things start picking up towards the middle to end of November and just like clockwork this year is following previous years trends.

I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving and didn't eat too much turkey; it's the deserts that get me. We had a Cherry Sundrop cake and my favorite Banana Cream Pie...Mmmm good. Now I just have to get back to the gym to work all this off again.

We have already started receiving order for the Polaris Razor seat covers. These things look awesome and we will be adding a UTV/ATV/MX bike seat page in the near future so be on the lookout for that. I think this is going to be a great area for us to grow into and while it's kind of the same thing we have been offering for the Street Bikes but it's still different because we are faced with different requirements of these seats. I also think this is going to help us improve our street bike seats because the off road seats face a lot more abuse and we can incorporate things learned in both areas together and make better seats for both sides.

I have been debating on offering aftermarket parts and things in our location and I think we will start making that transition here soon. I don't know how far into parts we will go right now but I am thinking we may start stocking some oil, batteries and offering parts too but this is an area I am not that familiar with but hopefully we can continue to keep the business growing but at the same time maintain our customer service and quality seat modifications because that is our mainstay and will always be our main focus. The only problem I see with parts is keeping everybody happy and there is always the guy who orders something then ends up not wanting it and you are stuck with a part that no one else wants so we will have to draw up new policies for this so it's going to be a pretty long process getting everything set up. But I am working with ZBroz on becoming a dealer for their parts and services and hopefully will have this all worked out today.

We cannot thank our customers enough for spreading the word about us. There isn't a day goes by that we get a call by someone who has been recommended to us from a previous customer. Thank you all for doing this and the word of mouth advertising you guys do is Priceless. I have in the past tried advertising in different magazines and while we have had some success, it's the word of mouth that keeps the doors opening for us. I can tell you guys thank you a million times and it will never be enough.

Cold weather seems to have set in for a while now. The ride in yesterday morning was a bit chilly at 28 degrees and this morning it was 25 and the forecast don't look much better for the next week. We haven't started getting any snow yet but last year the week before Christmas we did and I think it snowed every week after Christmas for about a month so the bikes are about to be garage bound for a little while if this happens again this year. I know the guys up north are already getting snow, we talked to several guys scheduling yesterday that was expecting a foot or more over night...good luck guys.

Well, that's going to wrap up this week's up date. I know this isn't going to apply to everybody but I have to say it. Be safe and enjoy the ride.

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