Running your hobby like a business
Today's topic is the bottom line, but we're not talking profit and loss statements … we're talking safety. Now more than ever, the business world puts a high priority on safety. The old iron hobby would do well to take a page from that book. What, after all, could be more essential and more integral to the future of the hobby?
Many basic truths surround the topic. One that ought to send ice water coursing through your veins is this: When it comes to shows and public events, if you don't ensure a safe environment, someone - whether it's a unit of government or your insurance carrier - will see that you do. Give either entity a reason to get involved, and rest assured, they will. Chances are, you won't like it. Run a preemptive strike by making sure that your show facilities are as safe as they can be for exhibitors and guests alike.
Protecting show-goers from themselves is an increasing challenge. You've done a super job of putting out the welcome mat, and your show is attracting crowds … crowds of people of literally all ages … babies in strollers … school kids freed from more restrictive routines … people using wheelchairs, motorized chairs and walkers … little red wagons hauling small fry … and more and more four-legged spectators. Shows attract an incredibly diverse crowd, and safety measures must take that in to consideration.
Another basic tenet of safety: When people get tired, they get sloppy. If you're working long hours in the shop to finish a project in time for a show, you're statistically vulnerable to injury. When you're tired, when you're under the gun of a self-imposed deadline, you're much more likely to take ill-considered shortcuts, whether it's related to donning safety gear or proper bracing or chemical use and handling. Know when to say when.
Yet another: Haste makes waste - and worse. For the next several months, vast tonnage of old iron will be loaded onto trailers, strapped, chained and tied down. Drivers will then put in countless hours behind the wheel, hauling loads all over the country, often in unfamiliar territory, often on heavily traveled interstate highways and often in particularly foul weather. You only have to watch a tractor fall off a trailer once to fully appreciate the danger inherent in loading and unloading. Take extra care at every step of the process; check and recheck at every stop.
This is a hobby, to be sure: But when it comes to safety, make sure your approach is all business!
Leslie McManus, Editor