Survival 101 for the glass bender

“The Times They Are A-Changin'”

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
So wrote in his song a young philosopher of the 60s named Bob Dylan, and how right he was.

He said “then you better start swimmin or you’ll sink like a rock.
and that is exactly what the glass benders of America should do , you better start swimming , and if you don’t know how to swim you better learn quick or your sink like a rock.

The Past.

The majority of the glass benders were hired by a sign company , they came real early in the morning and started to bend , they sometimes had to make their own patterns or if he or she was so lucky to work in a big sign company well then somebody else made the pattern and they handed the pattern with the work order so he could just start bending right away, then when he finished that job somebody else took his glass and pumped it , he then started with a new pattern and away he went , bending the glass like there was no end.
He was so used to the routine that he could almost bend with his eyes closed, but then one cloudy dark day every thing changed, he was propelled  with force to the unknown cold world of the outside , no problem he said , been there, done that , i’ll just get me another glass bending job somewhere else.  So he went from sign shop to sign shop and to his amazement and surprise he found out the some had already closed, others were about to close and the ones still standing were laying of people and not hiring anybody and the worse was that they did not need neon anymore because the long living cheap LED light that had taken over neon’s place in the industry , no need for neon anymore it’s a thing of the past.
Some shops offered the glass bender other positions like LED installer on channel letters for a  minimum wage , some companies couldn’t pay less because it was illegal but they would if they could.

The transformation of the Glass Bender

So what now , should i just succumb to the inevitable new reality that destiny has put in front of my life , or should i look for new ways of acquiring the much needed income .  At last after much introspect,retrospect, and such , i came to a conclusion i have to make my own neon and sell it , i know that it’s a lot easier said than done , but i tried to not think of the difficulty of the idea but to just plan and do it .A big help is that before i got into neon i was into sales so i knew how to start selling .If you don’t know how to sell , you will have to learn , but once you learn it’s real easy , it’s a lot easier than learning to bend glass, once you learn to sell you will have a job forever .
the best craft to learn is sales , so if you combine glass bending and sales eventually you will never have to go back to working the 9 to 5 , or the 6 to 2;30 .
The best times for a glass bender is right now , when 90 % of all the neon shops have closed, and maybe neon is not needed for new channel letters anymore but there is still window neon , exposed neon , and hundreds of thousands of channel letters with neon that need maintenance, not everybody will want to invest in a retrofit.
Another thing  to consider is that not all cities in the USA are good places to sell neon , either because the economy has devastated that city and there  are no new businesses opening or the ones that are still alive don’t have the money to even pay for the maintenance of there existing signs.So you have to know where the best place  to put your shop is , go where the money is .
To survive you will also need to make the best neon possible , and i am not talking about the bending , i have seen neon that is not perfect and the owners don’t even notice that , but they do notice if their sign does not light up because of a bad pumping procedure , the fastest way to fail is to make bad neon , and the only way to be sure that you are making good neon is by following the rules of pumping exactly as they are,making sure your pump really vacuums down to less than 5 microns , and for that you need a good vacuum gauge.
So “The Times They Are A-Changin'” alright but for the better , it’s an opportunity for the glass bender to become his own boss, maybe it will have to be done in steps , a little at a time , but if you ask anybody that started on their own in any craft type of business , they all started little by little but always aiming at the main goal , to be independent , to be able to go out there into the world and see opportunities to make money just waiting to be grabbed .