Dropping the FAX line

Okay, so, after two years of paying around $15 a month for a FAX line – and getting not one single FAX… I figure it’s time and past time to drop the FAX line.

So I have.

I quit payin' too much!

Please also note; I gave up the U.S. Post Box in Atlanta back in 2012 — please make sure to remove that address from your systems!

Update on the better scopes


final enhanced scope, photo from factory

STILL no good word on the new enhanced scopes: my sourcing co. guy is IN China (again)…

(All the way back in MAY {wince}…) The factory reported that they had ‘gotten the scopes all done and were sending examples for final approval before shipping and here were photos of them.’

I completely freaked out, because what they had built was missing the last step (which we had ‘fixed’ back in, like, October?). Thankfully, that fix is (apparently?) an easy one; they left off the metal cap on the bottom of the scopes. (The prototype without the ‘cap’ hangs up on the focusing screw – totally not acceptable!)

Not-quite-done
final incomplete enhanced scope

Accepted prototype
final incomplete enhanced scope

So, we’re trying to get the English scopes (re-)done and shipped; that will make customers who use English units very happy. (And me, well-nigh delirious!)

The enhanced metric scopes, when the examples arrived at the sourcing co., seem to have something fundamentally wrong (with the reticle? with the focal length? TBD): they’re not measuring correctly. This will further dismay customers who use metric units, as we still have to figure out WHY the metric reticle is not reading correctly, and then fix that problem!

Still, the minute I get the English scopes in my hands, I will make them available in new gauges, and begin the ‘swap program’ for folks who hate the current universal scopes (which are both metric units AND less-fine-measuring: 50 microns per hashmark; the enhanced ones will be 20 microns). ( Have I mentioned the I hate the universal ones?)

Some detail to whet appetites?

Since I am still awaiting word on the actual delivery date for the new scopes, I thought I’d post some info about the various types of reticles that are, and will be, “out there.”

The current universal scope
0.05mm per hashmark:
0.05mm = 50 microns = 0.00197″

the current universal reticle


The old-style English scope
0.001″ per hashmark:
0.001″ = 0.0254mm = 25.4 microns

the old-style English reticle


The old-style metric scope
0.005″ per hashmark:
0.005″ = 0.127 mm = 127 microns

the old-style metric reticle


The enhanced English scope
0.001″ per hashmark:
0.001″ = 0.0254mm = 25.4 microns

new enhanced English reticle

the English reticle drawing


The enhanced metric scope
No photo yet, because I have not gotten a prototype, but it should be pretty similar to the English photo above, since it’s made by the same company.
0.02mm per hashmark:
0.02mm = 20 microns = 0.000787″

new enhanced metric reticle

Glimpse of hope on the enhanced scopes?

24 May, i.e., Sunday of the alleged three-day weekend: remember when we were kids and got three-day weekends off and summers off too?

“The lenses are supposed to arrive next week.”

The sourcing company guy finally got an answer from China. How sound it is? I don’t know — back in mid-December, they said “mid-March” as if they meant it. End of March, they said, “shipping date is 27 April” as if they meant it. Now, nearly the end of May…

And, of course, this news is only the lens kits arriving AT the factory. However, the manufacturing itself shouldn’t take that long.

But the sourcing company guy (who has been working on this harder than it may seem!) is staying on it, and so am I.

Latest news on enhanced scopes

me, behind closed doors!

I am SO sorry to all-y’all waitin’ on the new scopes! I am also very frustrated, of course.

The “new” ship date of 27 April, of course, didn’t occur. My sourcing company guy was IN China then, and worked to chase down what the delay was. The company that makes the lens kits got a huge order, and so (understandably, if infuriatingly) pushed my little order (among a bunch of little orders) back, they said, by “18 days” but I have not been able to find out 18 days from when. The sourcing co. guy is trying to negotiate a ‘expedite fee,’ which he and I hope will succeed (without being too horrific).

He says he should know sometime (maybe? I hope?) in about 10 days (that was from the 11th). I am making sure everything I need is ready to go, the instant I get the new scopes… We have all been waiting (and waiting and waiting) for them: I WISH I could provide any sort of actual news … but this is all I have.

Many a slip twixt… well, it’s a delay anyway

Despite assurances that the new enhanced scopes would take “only” 60 to 90 days for manufacture and shipping, there has been a delay in getting the metric reticles. The new ship date has now been promised as 27 April. I’ve asked that the English-reticle scopes be shipped as soon as they are done, because at least those I could begin offering. No response to that request yet.


OG202 with enhanced scope


OG204 with enhanced scope

I am very sorry because I know how many folks are waiting for the new scopes (not the least of us: ME!). So far, it has been three years and one month since I began the process of getting new scopes designed and manufactured.

Some enhanced scope details

Still waiting for the delivery of the new enhanced microscopes. I thought folks might like to see the scale of the new reticles. (The new reticles are the main reason for the new scopes!)

As mentioned in my last entry: there will be two kinds of enhanced scope: a metric version and an English version. (The difference in size of the pix below comes from my less-than-stellar graphics skills. The two scopes are identical except for the reticle scale.).

The English-unit reticle

English-unit scale for enhanced scope

The metric-unit reticle

metric-unit scale for enhanced scope

Scope Swap Program info

Still finalizing the details for the swap program. I will be trying to contact everyone everywhere who has the universal scope in their gauge(s) to make sure they know about the enhanced scope offer; but please feel free to email me and make sure I reach you!

Special email address for the swap program:

SwapProgram@Micro-Metrics.com

Happy New Year, and great news!

I’ve finally placed the order for the new enhanced, custom-designed, custom-made microscopes for Tooke Gages! (These pictures show the final prototype.)
OG202 with enhanced scope
It’s been a long, long time since I began the process (back in April 2012!). However, the custom scopes had to be both perfect and affordable!

OG204 with enhanced scope

It’s going to be another 60-90 days or so before the scopes are actually manufactured, shipped, and in my hands, but from that point, there will be two types of scope (as there once were): scopes with a reticle marked in English units (with 1/10th-mil between hashmarks) and scopes with a reticle marked in metric units (0.02mm/20 µm per hashmark). (This compares to the 0.2-mils/50 microns between hashmarks in the Universal scope.)

To allow easier ordering, I will be using the following ‘part numbers’ to differentiate the type of gauge being ordered.

  • OG202 (Aluminum-bodied gauge with English reticle)
  • OG202M (Aluminum-bodied gauge with metric reticle)
  • OG204 (Plastic-bodied gauge with English reticle)
  • OG204M (Plastic-bodied gauge with metric reticle

enhanced scope

I am also “designing” a swap program, so those of you with the current Universal scope (marked in mm) can swap-out the Universal scope for one marked in English units, if you wish. Also, the enhanced metric scope has a finer reticle than the Universal scope, and that may be a consideration for folks using the Universal scope in its “native” (metric) units.
The three types of scope

If you have a very-old-style Tooke Gage, I also offer a rehab/upgrade program. I have done this for some owners of old Tooke Gages, replacing and upgrading various parts, and even the whole body, to create a ‘new’ Tooke Gage by re-using their original scope.

very old-style OG202

Changing the OG204 serial number location

As part of updating and upgrading the processes and products Micro-Metrics ‘has always used,’ I have started using a great machine that allows me to hammer the serial numbers into the plastic bodies of the OG204 Tooke Gages. I wanted a way to add the serial numbers that did not entail trying to line up individual stamps to get the serial numbers legible and looking nice.

Here’s the new gear: the jig, the numbering mechanism, and an OG204 in place.

NumberAll Stamps and Tool Co.
Made by the NumberAll Stamps and Tool Co.

Closer view of numbering mechanism. The best thing about the mechanism is that I can increment the serial number by one, merely by turning the wheel on the right! Numerals for the tens, hundreds, thousands, and ten-thousands (planning ahead!) are changed using a little wrench, but being able to change the ‘ones’ so quickly — and having the numbers ALWAYS lined up correctly — is great!

NumberAll Stamps and Tool Co.
The OG204 in the stamping jig

However, this great new system required moving the position of serial number because the shell body doesn’t fit into the jig in an orientation to place the number where it always went.

The original serial number placement:

NumberAll Stamps and Tool Co.

The new serial number placement:
NumberAll Stamps and Tool Co.

And, just to make the comparison: here’s where the serial number is on the OG202 metal-bodied Tooke Gage. This is the same place as always, but now that the bodies are anodized, I have the serial numbers laser-engraved.
NumberAll Stamps and Tool Co.

Business advice contest — and I won!

Elenor Snow

Elenor Snow 2013

I spend part of my time reading business sites around the web (always more to learn) and I came across a website holding a contest called “Five Tips for $5,000.” The direction suggested:

share your advice for business start ups or small businesses along with your name, email, website, business name, short bio and a head shot to accompany your five small business start up tips, and you will be entered for a chance to win $5,000.

I felt I had some lessons to share from nearly 3 years of running Micro-Metrics, so I whipped up my five tips and submitted them, and then continued reading my way around the web. Several months later I got a phone call saying that my entry had been chosen the winner!! AMAZING!

Here’s what I wrote:

Elenor Snow – President, Micro-Metrics Company
www.micro-metrics.com

I “became” a start-up (I was a ‘kept wife’) when my husband died suddenly and left me a manufacturing company. I had helped out in his company and heard him on the phone with customers for 16 years, but never even thought of owning or running the company! Here are my painfully gained lessons.

  1. Prioritize! Handle everything you can, and no more than that. If some part or process is a money-costing problem, work on it till it’s fixed; leave the other stuff till later. And don’t stress about it — you can only do what you can do: everything else has to wait.
  2. Triage! If you’re stuck with multiple or awkward steps to get something done, but it DOES get it done, and there is something else that is not getting done? Streamline or replace the awkward-but-working processes after you have everything actually working!
  3. Learn! In two years, I’ve read seven accounting books. (I do my company accounting; my accountant does my taxes.) I hired (by the hour) a math-and-engineering professor to teach me the arcane math I may have to explain to customers. I read business books at night.
  4. Create a verbal self-image (a personal ‘elevator-speech’)! I use this one: “I’m the youngish widow who doesn’t resist asking for help and advice.” By defining myself a certain way, I am able to overcome any internal resistance to asking someone for help (even though I’m a bit shy).
  5. Ask for help! Despite being a ‘do-it-myself’ kinda gal, I seek info, advice, help. I sit with my (two) excellent machinists and describe a problem I’m having — and wisdom just falls out of their brains! My distributors taught me a lot about advertising. People love to help!

Incorporate.com, the company that ran the contest, also took my ‘brief bio and a few of my business goals” and wrote an excellent little introduction to me:

Forever Learning: The Elenor Snow Story

Little in Elenor Snow’s background prepared her for the discovery, in 2011, that she would be running her own manufacturing company.

That’s when her husband, Michael Ray Laurence, longtime owner of the Georgia-based company Micro-Metrics, passed away. Snow, an editor by profession, was suddenly in charge.

“I’d helped out a little but hadn’t paid much attention to how he ran the company,” Snow says. “Perhaps I should have!”

Despite the enormity of the challenge, the 58-year-old Snow stepped up and has adapted to her new leadership role with characteristic spirit and resilience. In fact, her wise, good-humored advice is exactly what led The Company Corporation’s judges to name her winner of its recent “5 Tips for $5,000” contest.

Founded in 1961 and located in a suburb of Atlanta, Micro-Metrics manufactures precision devices used to inspect a variety of coatings and films. After taking the company’s helm, Snow’s first business goal was to update its processes and components. “For me, the cue for what to replace next is: what is frustrating me the most at the moment?” she says. “If a 30-year-old process takes days to get through, then it has to be replaced with one that takes much less time and frustration.”

Snow’s second goal was to keep Micro-Metrics’ products “relevant.” Currently she’s arranging for custom-made microscopes that are more precise than the current tools on offer. The project has been two years and many thousand dollars in the making, but a production-ready model is just around the corner. And while Snow admits that the project is “frighteningly expensive” (paying for the new scopes will cost nearly one-third of the entire cash resources of the company), she’s convinced it will be a long-term win for Micro-Metrics.

Snow’s third business goal is to increase sales. She has spent very little on advertising since taking over the company, but with those new scopes in the pipeline, she plans to get the word out to the trade in a big way. “I’ve been gathering resources, studying what ads and articles are out there, and consulting with my local SCORE advisor – preparing for an ‘ad blitz’ once I have the better scopes in hand.”

Her secret weapon? Curiosity.

“In two years, I’ve read seven accounting books. I hired a math-and-engineering professor to teach me the arcane math I may have to explain to customers. I read business books at night,” she says. In fact, self-improvement is Snow’s number-one priority as she moves Micro-Metrics forward. “My goal is to get smarter both about business and about the niche in which I find myself!” she says.