Good things require patience...
This message is for everyone. Yet it is mostly directed to those in a hurry to receive a unique custom-made brass instrument built to their exact specifications. Do you have what it takes to be patient? To illustrate, I would like to share with all of you one of my favorite holiday memories.
Two years ago, Cindy and I thought it would be fun to go ice skating at Rockefeller Center. I flew into Newark, met her in Rutherford then we took a bus into Manhattan and walked down to 5th and 48th. It was a cold sunny day in December and NYC was buzzing with Christmas shoppers. We arrived to find a very long line and a ton of people filling the square. After a brief huddle, we decided we definitely wanted to wait in line no matter how long it took to get on the ice. We were in the midst of making a great memory so nothing would stop us.
After we stood in line for about half an hour, we started asking people if they had noticed the line move. Nope, nobody noticed it move one inch. An hour went by, nothing. Then about 90 minutes into waiting, the line started moving...finally, we'll get close to the ice soon! Or not, we had moved up one row. We entertained each other as we passed the time and it eventually got dark. Hours went by and we forgot how cold we were, now it was time to find a restroom! After 4 hours (I am not exaggerating), we finally got into the little run down room at the bottom of the stairs to fork over our $42 plus the cost of renting skates! My day had begun at 5am getting on a plane to do this and, at maybe 7pm, we finally hit the ice.
That night was magical. Cindy wasn't much of an ice skater, so I mostly pulled her round and round the rink while we laughed and played. It was one of those moments that makes all of life's hard efforts worth while. We stayed on the ice for two hours only getting off because we couldn't stand anymore. Our photo in front of the lit up Christmas tree truly tells a thousand words. :)
I could have told you how much I disliked standing in the cold for hours on end amidst strangers who often cut in line using every trick in the book. How there were no restrooms and the employees were rude or did not attend to our needs. I could have suggested we leave and find something better to do. After all, NYC has a lot to offer over some expensive crowded ice time!
I could have remembered this experience as one of the worst customer service situations in all of history. But I didn't for two reasons...I was with someone who cared about my moment as much as I did hers AND I chose to make a good memory.
Hiring me to build your trumpet is very similar to skating at Rockefeller Center. I am 100% committed to fulfilling your needs and expectations in your new trumpet. After all, it is my trumpet too and I take great pride in everything I do. However, like waiting in line to skate, there is sound logic in place here. Not everyone will fit on the ice at one time and there is no room to make the ice rink any larger. There is magic there, you simply must wait your turn. And when it is your turn, the world is yours!
Some trumpets get on the ice (my work bench) once and then they are finished. But the special projects with receiver text or art must wait in line twice. There is no way around this. I am one man designing and building all of these parts myself. I could hire twenty people to man the phones in the office, yet calling will not speed up the process. Not even calling every single day for months, will your order go any faster. Most likely, it will slow down the entire waiting list because more of my bench time will be taken up working with Jen and Paul answering repetitive facebook messages and phone calls. I encourage you to check up on your order if you want to hear some news, but that does not mean there is news to be heard. ;) Ask Cindy herself, she waited an entire year for her trumpet with anxious phone calls, re-scheduling photo shoots and recordings that were missed again and again. Her horn was the most complicated ever at the time it was built and the build process was slow. Now ask her if it was worth the wait.
The simple truth, there are 200+ individual extremely important people ordering very custom trumpets each year and ONLY ONE OF ME. Just like the ice rink, you will not all fit on my bench. I must take each of you individually, one at a time, sometimes more than once, maybe more than twice and for the Summit One and Art projects, as many as 14 times! It cannot all be done at once due to the nature of the building process. I have dedicated 80-100 hours/week of my life to your individual unique needs in your trumpet orders. I AM FULLY COMMITTED TO YOU.
I receive a great deal of beautifully written praise and testimony on a daily basis. In fact, my collection of notes and letters is in the thousands. Sometimes these are written by people who have only briefly tried one of my horns or accessories, yet they feel compelled to share. Happy customers raving about their new equipment is really good for business and boosts company morale, so we look forward to hearing from our clients. However, a small percentage of soon to be new owners crack under the anticipation of receiving their dream horn. Patience is perhaps not a refined trait or possibly forgotten in our world of fast anything if you flash the cash. That attitude doesn't get you any further ahead in my shop. I guess I'm old-fashioned in some ways and waiting in line has always been a fair system.
So every month or so, someone calls or writes quite upset that their 4-month order is now overdue. In almost every case of a late order, either all orders are running behind for good reason OR they modified their order to include elements that add to the wait time. In both cases, manufacturing is a physical process that cannot be easily rushed. Getting upset about this does nothing to solve any problems. When this happens I usually wonder how anyone (no matter your stature in the "trumpet" world) could say or do some of the negative things I have heard and witnessed. Did they lack the simple patience, understanding and mutual respect for a process that is both logical, necessary and inherently slow? Would they rather I rushed every horn out the door cutting corners? Am I expected to compete with the speed by which their fingers can type an angry message and press send to all of the world via facebook or an online forum? Would anyone want a trumpet built that fast and easy?
I have heard complaints that my work is too slow since I began working when I was 11 years old. Take a moment to consider the facts and someone out there may someday realize that I could in fact be very productive and efficient...maybe even prolific. Very few people comment on speedy production of their dream horn, but if you could see everything I design and build in a week, you may start to wonder why anyone would say I am, "slow".
I challenge anyone reading this to introduce me to the one person (not a factory) on this planet that will produce the trumpet you ordered built with better craftsmanship, design and care, faster and with better customer service. I'll make it easy, just give me the name of the person that will build you a simple custom horn with no innovations in less than six months. There's only one of me and it is somewhat on your shoulders to give me the benefit of the doubt now and then. I am the one taking all the risk learning new techniques, manufacturing processes and putting up the capital to purchase machinery year after year to make your dream trumpet a reality. I have a proven track record of extremely satisfied customers from all walks of life in over 50 countries. I am here for you.
Happy Holidays and please remember Rockefeller Center :)
12/23/2011 01:26:52 pm
That is right on the money, and the seemingly perfect use of the anology.
12/26/2011 04:04:40 am
I waited a full year for my Summit, and it was well worth the wait. I knew that my horn would not be rushed, and that the time would be taken to build it with great care. I appreciated that.
12/26/2011 12:39:56 pm
You are 100% correct Jason. I learn that with certain mouthpieces that are hand made. Keep the hard work and I guess that you can tell your costumer from the start that patience is a virtue.
1/4/2012 11:44:24 am
I love it. I saw the above freq. and always get attacked for saying it. Never mind how true and factual it is. I do not mind but it would be nice if it actually sunk in after a while. People have been spoon feed lies and half truths so long it is like they can not recognize the truth even when it is smacking them in the face! You have been very helpful to me in the past and always made time to answers what I am sure are repetitive questions for you. Thanks so much for everything you do. Being a man of integrity and of principals I value everything you have done in this industry!
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Inventor, Musician, Educator and Founder of Harrelson Trumpets, Trumpet Momentum and Harrelson Momentum.