Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

As the old year leaves and the new one arrives I am looking forward instead of backward.  Back there is work and all the trials and tribulations that are attached to the daily grind.  Ahead is a life change to retirement and all the issues that go with not having a reason to get up and head off each day.

Travel will be a part of the new lifestyle and I was considering going to the local gun shop to purchase one of these.
But after research I have come to the conclusion that may not be such a good idea.  First of all, you need to be willing to shoot someone.  I am not so sure I am.  For that reason alone, this probably isn't a good solution for us.  They sell a product in Canada (and the U.S.) that I think would be more beneficial for us as we boondock our way across the country.

Apparently this stuff has a range of 30 feet.  I think this is the safer option.  At least I won't accidentally shoot my foot off.

I hope everyone has a great New Year.  We are certainly looking forward to ours.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gone After 63 Years

Debuting in 1950 the Volkswagen Type 2 was called many things but none of them was fast.  The first of the mini vans had a 4 cylinder, 40hp air cooled engine attached directly to the four speed transaxle with rear wheel drive via solid axle shafts.  It wasn't fast but it was an icon throughout the 60's.  The first version of the Transporter was produced until 1967 and replaced with a bigger more modern version in 1968.  The second version ran until 1979 but was never as popular as the original.  The Type  2 was replaced with the Vanagon due to U.S. Safety Regulations in 1979 however the original was still built in Brazil.  The Vanagon was replaced by the Eurovan which ended production for the U.S. market in 2003.  Last Friday the last Type 2 rolled down the assembly line.
Sad day for VW enthusiasts.

Friday, December 27, 2013

It Is Coming

Unless I can't count January 5th will be the century mark to retirement and the real countdown will begin.  There was a time when I never thought this day would arrive.  And I guess I really shouldn't call it retirement because it is more like a life style change.  Retirement used to mean the end of a meaningful life.  No more work so many became depressed and just gave up.  Not so much anymore.  Retirement means less income but it also means less work.  No more getting up early to be on time.

Then there are the advantages that include such things as hobbies, projects and meaningful help around the neighborhood.  There is traveling.  Our first trip is already mapped out and will include our grandson as we previously promised.  We will leave Federal Way and travel south to Baker City, Oregon.  From there we travel to Hells Half Acre and then on to Yellowstone.  We'll wrap up the trip by visiting Glacier National Park and Spokane and then back to park the trailer at Gold Bar.  Almost 1900 hundred miles.

My two wheel drive Chevrolet Silverado will get a work out on this trip.  I have been looking at new trucks with all the fancy equipment and mirrors for trailer towing but while it is nice to drool there is no plans to replace our current truck.  We need to get new tires for the truck and the trailer and I would like to find some nice seat covers.  Other than that I don't see any need to spend anymore to hit the road.

We have made a decision to give a young fellow we hired a little over a year ago, the opportunity to take my place as I travel off into the sunset.  As of January 2nd I will step down as the parts manager, putting him in the hot seat and acting as consultant, advisor and parts counterperson.  While I will technically still be in charge I am changing my hours to 4/40 working Wednesday thru Saturday.  It will give me a little more time off and I will experience what some folks call normal working hours.  He has a great attitude and wants to learn so I think he will succeed.

There are some that don't like the idea that I am leaving and others who can hardly wait.  The business has changed so much in the past few years and I frankly see many more changes down the road that will effect how many dealers are around.  Our business relies a lot on the profits developed by the parts and service business.  Sales has long ago changed their business model.  Manufacturers now attach incentives to volume sales which causes dealers to become cutthroat.  Some sell at or below their cost in hopes of meeting the volume bonus mark and that causes other dealers to do the same thing in order to compete.  Dealerships do everything they can to keep customers coming back for service and parts to cover the overhead expense of operating the dealership.

A good percentage of the parts business comes from selling to mechanical and body shops that repair vehicles.  Collision repair parts account for a good percentage of the dollar volumes in this business.  As the vehicles become more sophisticated I can see them (the vehicles) protecting us against ourselves with all kinds of crash avoidance systems.  If we don't have crashes, we don't sell crash parts.

The other side of the coin will hit in the service drive where your friendly advisor writes up and suggest repairs or maintenance that maybe required for the safe operation of your vehicle.  They give you car 16 or 20 point inspections each time you come in and make recommendations (upsell) you on services that might need to be done.  Sooner than later the connected car will arrive and consumers will only buy those services recommended by the vehicle via the manufacturer.  Chevrolet has this with the On Star system.  The system monitors your vehicle and sends emails regarding needed services or issues with things like the tire monitor system.

All of these changes will cut into dealership profits.   In case you are wondering the vast majority of new car dealers work with a pretax net profit of 2.2% of sales dollars.   A dealership selling a total of $2,500,000 will have a pretax profit of $5,500 if everything is run correctly and expenses are closely monitored.  That is not a lot of money when you consider the amount of money a dealer has invested in property, buildings, and inventory.  A dealer could take their dollars and invest them in many other ways that would pay as much or more with less headaches.

But these changes are still a ways away and I expect the whole business model will change at some point, long after I am gone.

I am off until the beginning of the New Year and other than a doctors appointment today, I have nothing planned.  Thanks for dropping by.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

I don't have much to say today.  I hope everyone is having Happy Holidays.  I will be spending the afternoon with my family and working one more day, tomorrow, and then I am off until after the New Year.
I will fill in the developments towards retirement in the next couple of days.
Have a great Holiday.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Continuing Stuff

After a short nap and a half of football along with a mushy Hallmark Christmas movie the crud still has a hold on me.  I think I might have the suspect.
Just before Thanksgiving last year in the throngs of moving our parts department and the mess that went with it I had an incident that caused me to visit the doctor and be diagnosed with anxiety and depression.  At that time I was given meds to help me deal with the pressure I was feeling.  That pill was Citalopram.  It is a good drug.  You still care but you don't get all wound up.  Thing is you're not supposed to quit it cold turkey as in when you run out and due to mail delivery and mistakes on the refill website you end up going without it.  I suspect that my not taking in steadily for the last two weeks may be causing my current issues.  At least I hope so.  I have an appointment with my doctor after the holidays so if not I'll bring it up during that visit.

At some point I need to ween myself off this stuff.  Maybe 114 days from now.


Finally got a weekend off and we drove to Mt. Vernon to visit with my stepmom and her friend.  It has been some time since we made the trip up and either we are getting old or it was just the way I felt yesterday but it seems like a chore to make the trip up there and back.  We had a great visit and but I suffered through it with a headache and weird feeling that just got worse as the day progressed.  By the time we got home I ate some thing and went to bed.

I got up this morning and felt better but the longer I am up moving around the more I feel like crud.  It is hard to explain but I just don't feel right.  Kind of messed up in the head.  No headache but some issues with my balance.  Kind of gray and messed up like the day outside.

We went to the store this morning.  My Mr Coffee decided to stop processing water so I decided to look at the Keurig machines.  I bought one and had a cup of coffee when we got home.  I think I will definitely like this machine and very likely drink less coffee because it produces a strong, rich cup of coffee.

I have more, but I think I'll lay down for a bit.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

What A Fun Week

I sometimes have trouble understanding our manufacturers point of view.  One of the companies we represent requires its dealers to certify employees through on line and instructor lead classes.  I have no issue with the certification requirements and I have been certified for as long as I can remember.  This year I was done with the required on line classes about half way thru the year and attempted to get a pass on the instructor led class since the only one left at the time was a trip to Ontario, California.  With my retirement next year I didn't see the point of our company paying the expense fly, board and feed me in Ontario land of warehouses.  In the final decision I was voted down and told I would need to attend.  Failure to be certified would effect the dealerships chances for bonus money and contest for the coming year so off to Ontario I went Tuesday - Thursday.  Turned out to be a good opportunity for me to say goodbye to the many folks I have come to know over the years that work for their organization.

When I got back I worked Friday and Saturday because we are short handed again and I really do enjoy working on Saturday, especially with the guys I worked with this weekend.  We work well together, compliment each other and enjoy bantering with our customers.  After work I came home and caved.

Mia and I got up early this morning and went to downtown Seattle for the annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk.  We had a special interest this year.  As I told you before our daughter (a long time couch potato) got up earlier this year and began to run.  A couple of months ago she announced she intended to run her first 5k today and our son told her he would run with her.  We arrived at the start time but we didn't see them because they had left before we got to the start gate.  I went up past the finish line to wait to see them come by.  My hands frozen (it was 18 degrees when it started) I stood waiting, camera in hand, taking photos of some of the costumes and managed to see my son in the sea of people and got his picture as he went by.  My grandson texted me that his mom was coming and while I was reading the text she came and went with no picture.  Kind of upset with myself for that one but it might not have been that great anyway.

Someone took this picture of them before they left for the run….very proud dad.
Came home and watched the Seahawks try to beat the 49er's.  So many penalties that it looked like flag football.  A lot of them cost the Seahawks dearly.

Working all week with the exception of Wednesday.  Looking forward to two a couple of long 10 hour days on Friday and Saturday due to being short handed.

Hope everyone is doing well because I am.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Music And The Lives We Live

In 1989 a musician release his first album and became a huge success in country music.  I enjoyed his music from the start.  Garth Brooks became a huge entertainer that was able to sell out huge venues in a few minutes.  I had the opportunity to see him when he and his band came to Seattle once earlier in his career.  He put on an unbelievable show.  Moving across the stage as he belted out hit after hit.  Connecting with his fans and he told stories about his background.

He has been in Vegas for sometime now putting on a show, "Blame It On My Roots".  The other night he was on TV and he did a portion of the show.  I did not get to see it because I had something a little better.

My daughter purchased the box set at Walmart on Wednesday evening and sent me the DVD of the final show that he did at Wynns in Vegas.  I watch Garth Brooks run through the history of his music by telling us which musicians had influenced his music over the years.

When you think about the entertainers you enjoy perhaps you should look at their roots and see what crosses their path as well as yours.  Turns out I know exactly why I like this entertainer.  He was influenced by the very same artist that I have always enjoyed.

Funny now that I research some of my other favorites to find the same thread.

Warnings Are Up

Our area of the country is being warned of an impending arctic winter storm bearing down on the region from the north.  It is kind of deja vu.

November 27, 2006 the Green Bay Packers came to Seattle to play the Seahawks on Monday night football.  I'll never forget that night since I left work just before the storm hit the Pacific Basin.  It snowed on the game and even though Green Bay comes from snow country, Seattle evaded defeat.

I remember getting up the following morning, warming up the car as I cleaned the windows and listening to the radio and hearing about the traffic issues caused by the storm that blew in the night before.  It was icy as I pulled away from the curb.  The snow was deep for this area and I made tracks for work.  As I have said before, I tend to get up early and it was early, 2:30 am.  As I entered the freeway I saw vehicles spun out, flex buses sitting stuck and jackknifed in the middle of the lanes and the whole southbound lanes tied up with vehicles that didn't seem to be moving.  It turned out that most of those folks sitting over there were trying to get home from the Seahawk game.  Some would not arrive home until later in the morning.  Others left their cars were they ran out of gas and walked away adding further to the congestion.

We can only hope that we are better prepared if the storm arrives.