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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is off topic from 29ers, but this place gets a lot more traffic than the custom builders forum.

Has anyone talked to Doug Curtis lately? I've been trying to get ahold of him unsuccessfuly for six months now. I sent a frame in for repair back in February and haven't heard from him since. I'm sorry to put this out on the forum, but I don't know of any other way to possibly reach him.
Thanks in advance.
 

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Email

I received a reply email about a week or two ago, but haven't heard back since. Have you tried phoning him?
 

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Klydesdale
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I just got an email from Doug on Monday 7/17. He answered the phone when I called him on the 7th but it sounded like he had just picked up the phone to make a call.
 

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Recovering couch patato
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Try mailing him "I want to order 5 identical frames for me and friends, please call me back".

:)
 

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45 gone, 15 to go
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I talked to him a couple of days ago. My brother is getting a frame from him. He said he has been really busy. Sucks that haven't gotten a hold of him.
 

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Future Rainbow Jersey
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These custom guys seem busy a lot. I'll never understand why these guys (as well as contractors, and other busy business owners for that matter) don't hire some kid and pay them like $6-$7/hour to answer phone calls and emails.

While they're probably not filthy rich, I think it's a minimal investment to keep things running smoothly while they can concentrate more on making frames instead of manning the phone and computer.
 

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Blanco
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ziggurat22 said:
I'll never understand why these guys (as well as contractors, and other busy business owners for that matter) don't hire some kid and pay them like $6-$7/hour to answer phone calls and emails.
Because the amount of tax recordkeeping and paperwork you have to do in order to hire an actual employee frequently exceeds the amount of work a single employee can do.

Additionally, $7/hour * 8 hours/day + 11% Social Security tax = $62/day, $310/week, $1350/month, $15,500/year. That's out of a business that isn't very profitable to begin with.
 

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DiscoCowboy
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That's why you have kids...

so you can put them to work for you and not pay them. I joked with Gene Spicer about that, but he said he had to wait till the were a little older.

ziggurat22 said:
These custom guys seem busy a lot. I'll never understand why these guys (as well as contractors, and other busy business owners for that matter) don't hire some kid and pay them like $6-$7/hour to answer phone calls and emails.

While they're probably not filthy rich, I think it's a minimal investment to keep things running smoothly while they can concentrate more on making frames instead of manning the phone and computer.
 

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Granted, Doug does beautiful work, but if I can't get in touch with him I'm not sure if I'd go that route. His website has been promising a customer's gallery for at least a year now. Last time I checked there were still no pics. Building gorgeous frames comes first of course, but c'mon Doug! :D
 

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Recovering couch patato
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with some custom builders I get the impression that their local market is keeping them busy enough to not need phones or emails. Long life the world wide web, but tradionally, wasn't a custom builder's product a local sighting only?
 

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El Caballo said:
Because the amount of tax recordkeeping and paperwork you have to do in order to hire an actual employee frequently exceeds the amount of work a single employee can do.

Additionally, $7/hour * 8 hours/day + 11% Social Security tax = $62/day, $310/week, $1350/month, $15,500/year. That's out of a business that isn't very profitable to begin with.
I'm guessing an established builder like Curtlo could afford to pay that. I run a small biz myself, and its not really the cost of hiring somebody, but its the trust factor. I am a control freak, as I'm sure some of these builders are, and don't really trust the type of person you are going to pay minimum wage to help run my business. I know thats not the best way to approach it, but figure I just don't need thee hassle of hiring some kid that may do a lousy job and actually increase my workload.
 

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Blanco
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ajoc_prez said:
I'm guessing an established builder like Curtlo could afford to pay that.
Yes, but can he do over $15,500 of business in the time he saves? If not, he's losing money.

Also, a lot of craftsmen don't want the complication. They just like building things, and if that means they can only do a certain amount of business per year, who cares? They're making enough money to support their chosen lifestyle while doing what they love.

What I think his success shows is that there is room in the market for more people to build custom MTB frames under $900 and forks under $250. Right now I can think of Curtlo, Waltworks, and Spicer. I don't know about Spicer, but Doug and Walt have long wait times right now.

There are plenty of custom builders at $1200 and up, but four figures is a big psychological barrier.
 

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go-pirates said:
Granted, Doug does beautiful work, but if I can't get in touch with him I'm not sure if I'd go that route. His website has been promising a customer's gallery for at least a year now. Last time I checked there were still no pics. Building gorgeous frames comes first of course, but c'mon Doug! :D
It all comes down to priorities. Building frames, staying sane with a decent workload, answering emails, phone calls, maintaining the website, blah blah blah. When you are a one man show it would be easy to get overwhelmed and then burn out. As a costomer I know he wants my business. I know he will do good work. I also know he will eventually respond to my emails. The email I sent him regarding a frame for my brother took two weeks almost to get a response. But I knew it would come. If you don't have patience, small builders are going to be trouble for anyone. If you do, you will usually be rewarded.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Haven't gotten to check this in a few days as I've been travelling.

Glad to hear at least some people have spoken to him, which means that he hasn't fallen off the face of the planet and there is still some hope of contacting him. At this point I don't even care if he's done the work on the frame (it just needed new cable guides tacked on), I just need to get it back. The bike is my father's, and he's been without it since February. He's been using my KM all year, but rather understandably wants his bike back.

Sure, he's super busy, but this is his business, for christ's sake. If he didn't have the time to do a small bit of work on one of his frames, he should have just said so when I first emailed him about it in January. My dad has never has a single problem with the frame related to the quality of Doug's work, but it's sure hard to get ahold of him if you need something fixed. I feel kind of lame calling him out on the internet, but after six months, what am I supposed to do? Send the cops to his house to retrieve the frame?

I'll keep trying- both my dad and I make periodic calls/emails to no avail. If anyone else happens to talk to him, put in a good word for me, wouldja?
 

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Squalor
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Law said:
If you don't have patience, small builders are going to be trouble for anyone.
Law - I think this is a pretty big statement. It sounds like you have choosen both of your builders (Dean and Curtlo) based mainly on price and then drawn conclusions about the rest of the industry and the custom frame process based on your experiences.

I can tell you that not all small builders require additional patience outside of the normal ordering process.

I've worked with two different, ultra small, one-man show builders. Both delivered my frames on time or early and returned every inquiry I had within 24 hours. Every one.

Actually, one of the main reasons I did not go with Dean or Curtlo is because of stories like this. I'm sure the quality is great with those guys, but there are too many solid and diligent builders with a strong work ethic out there for me to be put on the back burner or blown off as a customer.

I'm not trying to be on your case here, I'm just saying that drawing these broad conclusions is not helpful to the discussion and is a disservice to the industry of small builders that tries very hard to stay on top of their work load.

LP
 

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lanpope said:
Law - I think this is a pretty big statement. It sounds like you have choosen both of your builders (Dean and Curtlo) based mainly on price and then drawn conclusions about the rest of the industry and the custom frame process based on your experiences.

I can tell you that not all small builders require additional patience outside of the normal ordering process.

LP
Hey I am still in school. One has to make sacrifices.;) There are lots of small builders and large manufacturers that sometimes have taken awhile to get back to me over the years. I think that if people were a little realistic with guys that are a one man show, it would help. That is what I was meaning.

I chose Curtlo based on memory (from his early 90's frames) and conversations with Doug. At the time price was secondary (I was still making great money, and I was not in school yet). While I admit it was a concern, however, the Curtlo was replacing an Ellsworth so it is not like I was afraid to spend money. Back with my first Curtlo I would get a response very quickly. I take the fact that he doesn't get back to me fast to be mean that business is pretty hot right now. I can deal with it.

Dean, was a money issue. I knew what i was getting into possibly when I ordered. I wanted Ti and although my wife gave her blessing to getting whatever frame I wanted (IF, Seven, Serotta, Desalvo) I felt like I was not being a good husband and father spending an extra $400 to $1,000 for something like that. Especially when I had seen Dean's workmanship before. The main concern seemed to be wait time. I felt at the time that if that was the only problem, then it was worth it to save the money and not take out extra school loans. I'd have done the same thing over again too.

You are right there are lots that are better than Curlto as far as response time. But Doug, give me great service. He knows me. He knows what I like to a large degree. He spends a great deal of time with me.

And personally, I used to be in the industry. I know all about wait times and how everyone from custom frame builders to fork manufacturers bubble you on delivery times. I am jaded and used to it. At times it may irk me, but that is what you get when dealing with small builders in many industries. It doesn't matter if it is bikes, motorcycles, or even the snowmobile industry, folks many times are overly optomistic on both sides of the sale with regard to delivery times. If you don't want to get the wait, then pay more like with IF and Seven. They are usually right on time, but cost quite a bit more too.

Doug at Curtlo has been on time 50% of the time for me. Once about a month late, and once about 6 weeks.

Anyway, I do take back the statement that "without patience small builders will be trouble for anyone."

But I will say this; It sure helps.
 
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