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Key Idea: Do What Others Aren't Doing

Big pots are hard to make and hard to finish so that interior decorators will consider them an essential part of their design plans for large commercial spaces.

Key Question:

A: 

A new business has to have a unique product or service offer.  Even the location can make it unique.  Wing Lam told us that he loved the fish tacos he would get when he went surfing in Baja, California but he could not get them in where he lived in Huntington Beach, California.  He simply imported a tested idea to a new location so his angle was location and he, with his brothers, launched Wahoo's Fish Taco.

eHarmony came online as a matching-making service after Match.com had enjoyed success but at eHarmony it took nearly 3 hours to fill in the application to join the site.  The unique offer at eHarmony is in-depth profiling to match you more carefully for a wife or husband, not just a date.

Grace's father was a pot maker but he only made the tiny pots that were used to grow seeds into for bedding plants for sale in nurseries.  Grace looked around and did not see anyone in the US making very large pots so she jumped into that niche and had great success with it for years.  As design trends changed she had to reinvent herself.

A me-too will be difficult and probably force you to compete only on price which can kill a small business.

Think about it

What can you do that others can't do?  What about your personal experience gives you an insight that others may not have?

Clip from: PyroMedia

Seattle, Washington: In this episode of the show we take you into a place well-known in the design community as the place to buy large ceramic pots for up-scale hotel lobbies and office buildings.

Grace Tsujikawa-Boyd has re-invented the business she started in her basement in 1969. She now has engineers working for her in a new division that makes ceramic castables; though made from clay and fired in kilns just like the clay pots, these forms are used by companies like Boeing to make aircraft parts. She got some help and leveraged her assets in new ways to develop an entire new customer base -- the aerospace industry.

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PyroMedia - Phenix Glass Art - Pyramid

Grace Tsuijikawa, Founder

1601 S 92nd Place, Unit C
Seattle, WA 98108
206-768-1683

Visit our web site: http://www.pyromediainc.com/

Office: 206-768-1683

Business Classification:
Arts

Year Founded: 1969

Do What Others Aren't Doing

HATTIE: When did you decide you wanted to make big pots?

GRACE: (Voiceover): There were a lot of competitors making small flowerpots, and I knew--or I had hoped for a niche market, a high-end market, Fortune 500 companies who had a lobby...

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Who could afford...

GRACE: (Voiceover) ...just fancy places they wanted to decorate.

HATTIE: So this will arrive in Tokyo all in one piece.

Unidentified Employee #1: Hopefully.

HATTIE: What's the downside of being in the big pot business?

GRACE: Well, the downside is the percentage of loss you have. And in order to cover that percentage of loss, you have to demand a higher price.

HATTIE: And so if I retail--bought one of these large pots to put in my hotel lobby, what am I talking about dollarwise?

GRACE: You're probably talking about $1,500 for a very large planter.

HATTIE: You're Mark ?

MARK (Employee): Yes. Hi.

GRACE: Pot maker.

HATTIE: I would shake hands, but I think your hand is full of clay.

MARK: I wouldn't advise it.

HATTIE: So you can tell us exactly how to make a pot.

MARK: Right.

HATTIE: But don't try this at home, right?

MARK: No, I wouldn't try it in the kitchen, definitely.

I try to deliver the clay into the mold, not too much, not too little.

GRACE: (Voiceover) Mark is able to make at least 30, 40 pots a day, you know, when he needs to.

MARK: But once I get the bottom clay placed, I lower the template in. It has settings here that are calibrated for the depth on a microswitch, and a stop for the vertical stop. And then we have our horizontal stop with calibrations, and then I have a speed control here which will start it revolving. I'm gonna check for thickness right now.

HATTIE: Is that like putting a toothpick in your brownies?

MARK: Right.

HATTIE: You had to make them by hand.

GRACE: We had to improvise. We made it by hand, we did slipcasting, which is a less expensive process. We didn't have to have the kind of equipment that we have now to do these kinds of pots.

HATTIE: But this is worth the investment because Mark can make 30 a day with this.

GRACE: Yes.

HATTIE: So it pays for itself.

MARK: We had an efficiency expert come through here about 10 years ago and say he hadn't seen anything superior to it, and I can't help but think it's the absolute best myself.

HATTIE: See how it's doing?

MARK: Exactly. This is just a depth indicator to make sure that all of our pots are equal thickness.

HATTIE: When you started making pots, you didn't have this fancy machine.

GRACE: No, we were poor, remember?

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