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The business end of stained glass windows
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 Posted: Sun Sep 13th, 2009 07:08 pm
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Steve
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I have not seen this discussed, so maybe it is something that is not talked about, but I am curious to know if I am losing my marbles, so to speak.

I just had a project come across my desk, after submitting questions about a project that I thought was dead.  Seems they have been requesting art from glass artists locally for the past 2 years.  After getting to the bottom of things, seems the project involves multiple windows, made up of 5 panels per window, stacked vertically, 15 feet, x 5 feet wide. 

As I read over the required design material, representative in nature, I get to the bottom line. 

Budget $6000.00 per 5 panel window.

  That is only to build the stained glass window, no installation, no thermal insulating, which they are having done.  Just build the window, which includes research on the subject and design an original window.

Have I lost my mind or is that seriously below market costs anywhere?  or is my greed coming out?  by the way, someone believes this to be reasonable, there are several windows and most have already had a contract approved.

 On a sq ft basis, that is $80 per sq ft? 

I know this forum does not stay too active, but I can't help but wonder if this question might stir some activity here, especially in the current economy.



 Posted: Sun Sep 13th, 2009 08:51 pm
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Vic
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I had one where an artist sent me representative drawings of his work. NOT a drawing of the  150 sqft window the church wanted. He wanted a price. It was a complex design that I would have acid etched and plated with antique glass. It would have looked GREAT. I wanted $100,000.00. I was told that another studio was willing to build A window for $15,000.00. I told the artist that we were officiously not building the same kind of window. PS, the job still is not done.

Bottom line, with these types of requests where there is NO standard to which all the studios are bidding on, it is simply a waste of everyone's time to deal with this stuff. Besides, there is always a low-ball bid out there. Unfortunately very often you get what you pay for.

Last edited on Mon Sep 14th, 2009 09:52 am by Vic



 Posted: Sun Sep 13th, 2009 09:41 pm
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Steve
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So I'm not nuts then, I assume.

anyone else?  this topic is open for discussion.



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 05:19 am
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mmezalick
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Steve,

The business end of stained glass, along with almost every other form of art is where most artist fail. The interest in a P/L statement is something they would rather not get involved with.

As for your pricing, it really depends on so many factors.

What you want to get paid for your services,

what your business overhead is,

Other labor concerns,

and the costs of the materials.

Wal-Mart can sell a set of pearl earrings for much less than the Tiffany Jewelry Store.

Different quality, and lower overhead make a big difference, but they're still earrings

And then there are the times you will need to keep work coming in just to keep some cash flow with a small profit.

A little profit is better than no profit.

Another factor is the volume of work you have . As with the Wal-Mart example, a small bit of profit from 10 jobs will give you the opportunity to lower your overall cost as opposed to one large profit from one job.

The business of the business is a daily thing that must be tended to or you will certainly fail, especially in tough economic times as these.

So, how much do you really need to keep your doors open?

Michael

 

 



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 07:51 am
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bbates
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ON the other side of the coin.  Sometimes if a person/business is very hungry for the work; they may bid really low just to "keep the lights on."  And, we have been on the end that gets rejected for a too low bid. We have our own flat glass as well as stained glass shop, so we save tremendously on stormglazing and other items that are usually out-sourced.  Plus, there is a local competitor that is know as the creme de la creme of stained glass in our region.  We end up getting the jobs that are below them (or at least their pay scale).  Which works for and against us...



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 08:01 am
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Preston Studios - John
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Steve (and all),
One way Preston Studios has dealt with the pricing issue was to publish our prices on our website:

http://www.prestonstudios.com/Costs.html

This generally keeps the nonsense down to a minimum.  True, we miss out on bidding for a lot of projects.  However, the ones we DO bid on are worthwhile and generally involve serious folks who have some understanding about issues of quality.

John C Emery, Sr.

Chairman of the Board
http://www.igga.org




 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 08:07 am
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bbates
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location location location

We would have closed our doors years ago with those prices.  Prices are based on what the market can bear. That is even more true with the current market situation.

Last edited on Mon Sep 14th, 2009 08:07 am by bbates



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 08:49 am
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Steve
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This is all great input, if there is more comment from others it would be great.

Looks like I am somewhere between the Indiana prices and the Fl prices, good to know.  Do tend to be closer to FL in windows,  Interesting.



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 09:59 am
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Vic
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Steve wrote: So I'm not nuts then, I assume.

anyone else?  this topic is open for discussion.


I am not sure this is the place to ask "So I'm not nuts then, I assume."

Better try the link below



http://www.doctorslounge.com/psychiatry/forums/archive.htm



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 10:08 am
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mmezalick
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Steve,

You wrote "Looks like I am somewhere between the Indiana prices and the Fl prices, good to know.  Do tend to be closer to FL in windows."

Do you know if your area market can handle these prices (FL)?

If so, great. If not, work may be hard to get.

If you want to add another element into the mix, consider how to do pricing for a project that is out of your area. Way out, but several hundred miles.

Additional travel cost and the local competition makes for an interesting profit or loss sheet.

Michael

 



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 10:08 am
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Vic
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All of Michael's comments are correct.

I do question

"And then there are the times you will need to keep work coming in just to keep some cash flow with a small profit.

A little profit is better than no profit.".

We are not guaranteed a living doing the things we like. A little profit is only "good " for a very short time. If this concept lasts too long, it may be better to reevaluate how you make a living or make major changes to your current business to become more competitive.




 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 10:15 am
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mmezalick
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 I agree Vic.

Change now or forever hold your peace.



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 10:38 am
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Vic
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mmezalick wrote:  I agree Vic.

Change now or forever hold your peace.


"Change now or forever hold your peace."

Maybe that should read ; change now or forever hold your piece of glass



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 11:14 am
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Steve
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I should have added a little background at the beginning.

I have been doing this full time in a storefront studio for 30 years, the concept of how much I need to make to stay in business is not lost on me.

Location is important, I draw on a market locally that includes all of southeast MI, plus the benefit of doing work with other studios that is outside my locale. Feb finished a commercial job in Pensacola FL, can't get much further north and south. 

I started the thread due to a job local to me, and MI has quite a depressed economy, the $$ for the job are Federal "Art in Transportation" funds.

I was just amazed at the low budget for the amount of square footage involved and how "they" arrived at the numbers.  I think they pulled them out of a hat.

As a reality check I thought I would post here to see  if perhaps I was out of touch with reality.  For a project of that budget, it would have to involve domestic low end glass, no hand blown stuff, no surface treatment, ie painting, etching, etc., no snappy lead tricks, overlays etc.  essentially nothing that could show off skills, or increase the look of the panel artistically.  the dollars aren't there for it.

As I am known locally in the trades, it would be a shame to not participate in such a project, but if I have "real" work on the tables, I can't justify a lesser paying job instead. 

Did I mention there is a time requirement?  Spring of 2010 

More opinion should anyone care to comment.

Last edited on Mon Sep 14th, 2009 11:18 am by Steve



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 11:48 am
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mmezalick
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Steve,

I'm sure many of us can feel for you as we have gone thru the same thing. There is a current project for the Philadelphia Transit calling for several mosaics for one of the train stations floor.

4000 sq. ft.

Not a small job.

Budget $60,000.00

Sounds nice till you pull out the old calculator.

$15.00 per sq. ft

I can't even buy the raw materials for that.

Someone will do it just for the publicity. Not me.

Michael



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 01:14 pm
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Steve
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Michael, a comment about that "somebody will do it for the publicity" thing.

If there isn't enough money in the project for a studio to do their best work, or at least the work that they would want associated with their name, why do it?

and that was a rhetorical question, because I don't think there is a real answer for it.  just a thought.

I can see myself boxed into a corner if I get myself involved with this job. Darn.



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 04:24 pm
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mmezalick
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Well Steve,

If you spend X amount of dollars for advertising, you could divert some of those funds towards making the mosaic project work. You would than have a rather large item to add to your portfolio and possible win the next one that might be more profitable.

It's always a risk as Vic said but doing a project just for the publicity is a real fact.

It's akin to paying for tuition. Hopefully something is learned that can be used down the road.

 Michael

 

PS Make sure you always have a box cutter with you, just in case.



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 04:40 pm
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Steve
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Thanks for the input, guys.

 

 



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 04:44 pm
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CZL
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That should about pay for the glass and lead.

A long time ago I had a conversation with Ludwig Schaffrath, he said that after the war there was a lot of work in Germany but very little money so he distilled his  line to what we know today as the Schaffrath style. In that case a design limitation be came an asset. So just think what you could do with eighty bucks a foot and get out the old STILL.

In that position I would just sit down and cry.

CZ ASMG



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 04:50 pm
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Steve
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Thanks for that comment, Mr. Lawrence, and believe it or not, these people feel that there should be a theme to the design, it should tell a story, sort of, each window has a theme.  The more I write about their expectations, and have the packet in front of me of what they want, I realize the job just isn't for me. 

It is one thing to want, quite another to be willing to pay for what you want.

they aren't.

The publicity would have been nice, 25 years ago, not after 30 years of working. the people that need me know where I am.



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