Updated: Nov 11
A few weeks ago, we received a letter from a long-standing Crystal River Products customer. His question? “So where are the kits that you guys are supposed to be selling?” Great question. After sending the reply, we would like to share with you its key points.
As Seth and I continue to work on converting the kits into today's production technology, we have found that doing so has been challenging. Nowhere near as hard as designing the kits in the first place--much respect to CRP founder Tom Fitzgerald!--but challenging just the same. Tom did an amazing job, and we intend to maintain his level of quality. And we have learned a lot as we’ve ramped up.
We’ve talked a lot about this over the last couple of weeks. Our original plan was to convert each set of plans, make and build a prototype of each kit, and then activate the catalog. Since we both have day jobs and families, that’s proven impractical. We’ll be “ramping up” for another couple of years if we stay this course. But along the way, we’ve fulfilled some one-off orders, some for our more-complex kits like the round- and octagonal-roof water tanks, the branchline tank, the two-stall engine house, the coal shed, the stock chute and stockyard, and even the Vance Junction Coal Pocket. The results have been excellent. So, we’ve decided to trust our experience and go live with our catalog now.
We will follow a just-in-time manufacturing model that many small operations in the hobby, including most of our suppliers, have adopted lately. That means we won’t keep much--if any--stock on hand. Instead, we’ll manufacture kits as orders come in. It may take us a few weeks to fill an order, but we will keep you posted from placement to shipping. And we won’t take payment until we’re ready to ship.
So, we are reviewing the top-ten kits list, identifying the parts and materials we need to have on hand compared to the inventory in stock, ordering anything we need, and preparing the catalog. Once that’s done--probably in a week or two--we’ll open up our online catalog and start taking orders.
This has been a learning experience for us. We believe in the brand and its legacy of quality and will strive to live up to it. We appreciate everyone's patience.
What does this mean for you? Anticipate an updated catalog and, if you are on our email list, an email calling attention to the on-line catalog as well as some observations about what we will be producing. When you place your order, you will receive an order confirmation and an estimated date of shipping. We will also notify you of the kit production progress.
We are grateful for the feedback we receive from our customers and interested parties and welcome your comments. In the meantime, as I like to think I coined as my mantra, “Hang in. Hang on. Carry on.”