Thursday 12 November 2020

THE Move - from Parys to George

10 days ago we moved factory and work and, as a result, homes from Parys to George. In this first wave there has been me (and Rusty), Celliers, Magda (our right-hand person) plus her two dogs, and 10 workers. My mom, Celliers' ex-wife (her job is actually based down here) and their two children and Magda's husband follow in the next two months.

Although much of the last three years is a blur, most of the last six weeks is distinctly fuzzy. Let's just say that I saw more 2am, 3am and 4am mornings than I care to. But, it was also exciting.

This move came about because of the awful power supply issues that plague Parys. About three months ago, after a particularly bad bout, Celliers just cracked. Where I am on the Vagabond Kayaks side of things, Celliers deals with the factory. That's manufacturing, getting orders out, machinery and workers. No power or 4-7 hours of no power a day, which really is equivalent to no power, is a bugger for business. He not only makes our Vagabond kayaks, but also my YOLO Compost Tumblers and kayaks for three other brands. He carries the weight of responsibility of supplying product for their businesses. That's a load.

We've worked crazy hours for the last few years to build these businesses. It has been tough going but we are fortunate to have business in these trying times and also many new projects already lined up for early next year.

We all moved, but Celliers made it possible.

It costs a huge amount to move a factory. It is one thing to want to move and another to actually make it happen. After many weeks of discussions, an investor in the factory was found and three weeks after receiving the funds, we were on the road to George. 

For me, the craziness was in trying to clear our factory of kayaks in stock prior to our departure from Parys. Fortunately, we have a good number of sporty and outdoor friends who are always keen on a good deal and dealers used the opportunity to get some stock and offer discounts to clients. The volume of communications and logistics and arrangements nearly flattened me! The rush was on to get everything done ahead of a fixed deadline. It was madness! 

Breaking down of the factory happened only days before three superlink trucks were booked for loading. We'd planned to use the last days to mould Vagabond stock but with many power outages we lost days. The ovens had to be broken down. There were also two containers of kayaks to ship and a fourth superlink truck was booked in a morning and loaded that afternoon with all the remaining kayaks - shells and completed - to be trucked down.

We loaded the kayak truck on the Wednesday, loaded our houses into a moving truck on the Friday and loaded the factory on the Saturday. Of course, it started raining in the evening and the power went out. Loading continued on the Sunday morning. Magda supervised while Celliers and I began the drive down to meet the loaded trucks early Monday morning at the factory. Magda started the journey on the Sunday afternoon, the workers caught an overnight bus and by mid-morning on Monday we were all together again. While I was running errands and offloading the moving truck into a storage garage, the trucks carrying moulds, machinery and factory goods were offloaded -  a huge task in itself. The fourth truck with all the kayaks arrived a few days later.

The units of a new building that the factory will be in is still under construction. Their schedule was disrupted by multiple times of many days of rain and the nationwide unavailability of roofing. Our metalwork started in the space on Monday (reassembling the gantries and building one new one). The section does not yet have a roof (or all the walls). The walls get higher every day and roofing starts this week. Apparently roofing is a quick process. The floor is currently being laid in the second unit.

For now, we've been accommodated in an adjacent building and can do assembly of kayaks there in the interim. Celliers, Magda and myself share a small office - the first time that we're all together. Rusty and Magda's dogs have beds in the office. 

I always talk and think of the factory as 'our' and 'we'. It is a bit of a 'Royal We' because I really have no direct involvement with it. The factory is Celliers' and Magda's baby. Nonetheless, I feel so much a part of it, it has been an integral part of my life for six years (with varying levels of involvement), and I never tire of seeing a fresh kayak being demoulded. 

Our first week (last week) felt like total chaos with the factory in pieces, our homes in boxes in a storage garage and our office stuff in boxes. On top of this we have to learn where to find things in our new town. What we have found is that the people are very friendly and the businesses that we're dealing with really try their best to help, service is excellent and our interactions have been very positive.

10 workers have come down with us. A number of them have worked with Celliers for a long time and they know their stuff. We have rented hostel space at a training centre for them for this interim period from now to xmas. It gives them a chance to focus on work and to see whether they like living down here. Last week I spent a lot of time running around to get kitchen stuff, bus cards and other odds sorted for them (the kitchen items will move across to the factory in January for our factory canteen). I turned on my computer for the first time on Thursday. I have so much catching up to do still!

On the home front, Magda moved straight into a townhouse that she has rented for three months. Her husband comes here this weekend and together they'll look at areas and options for long-term renting. He works on a contract so he is back-and-forth -  a few months away, a few weeks back. Celliers and I are sharing a furnished holiday home until 20 Dec - it gives us time to find long term homes. The house is a real treat as it is big and open and beautiful and it has a spectacular view.

We eat breakfast and dinner on the patio and are soaking up every minute of being able to enjoy this location while we can. It really is a treat.

Celliers' parents arrived yesterday to spend just over two weeks with us. Celliers' dad is the brains behind the control panels for our rotomoulding ovens. They will look at moving down next year after selling their place. We really need to have Celliers' dad close.

I saw a place on Tuesday, which I hope will be confirmed in the next day or two. My mom and her doggy Rosy come down in mid-January and they'll live with me and Rusty. It isn't a big place, but it is new and neat. It has an awesome shower, a gas hob, a garden and secure fencing to keep our dogs safe. What more could a person need? It is in an area that I had my eye on and I will have good access to the mountainside and lovely trails. The neighbourhood is pretty and interesting and will be lovely to walk and run around.

Celliers saw a place on Tuesday evening and it looks like he will get it; and he has also found a perfect place for his ex-wife, which we hope will come through for her.

We have not yet been on the water to paddle. There are so many options here with rivers, lakes and the sea. We're aiming for a sea kayaking session this weekend it conditions are mild. I look forward to taking my sea touring kayak into its 'home' environment. I'm also looking forward to padding the Serpentine River and the George Dam, which looks like a pretty and interesting spot. Both are flat, but they offer good distance.

I've been walking the winding road from the place we are staying with Rusty in the evenings and we have been to walk on the beach twice. Rusty really enjoyed her second outing and I think she'll learn to love running in the sand, especially when Rosy arrives. I think Rosy will turn herself inside-out with joy to play on the beach and in the water.

This move has been massive and is not the type of thing a person wants to do more than once in their life. It will probably take us a few months to really settle in - moving into our factory space, getting production back online, moving into our proper office space, moving into our own homes and unpacking. It is going to take some time but we are on the upward trajectory.