I’ve been wanting to do another Tech Day since the first one I organized last year. I wanted to do one much sooner than a full year later, but I’m sure those of you that keep up on my blog posts understand that last year was an epic failure. But this is my year and, with that, comes another good thing.
We’ve managed to secure a venue for a Tech Day in Austin, Texas!
The Redpants Tech Day last year in Tampa was the first event I’ve ever organized and hosted, and despite a couple small setbacks, it went really well. I got some great feedback, both positive for the good and constructive for things that could be better done next time, and all were happy to have been a part of it.
Organizing that event was relatively “easy” since it was local to me here in Tampa. I also had access to a perfect location - a vacant dealership showroom. Trying to find a location from afar, plus coordinate my schedule with James and Lenny’s schedules, and with that of possible venues…. not so easy.
Lucky for all of us, my buddy Eric (not Japan Eric, this is Austin Eric) came through and linked me up with a shop that was willing and able to host us on the date we wanted. So a HUGE thank you to Eric for handling that for us, because this event wouldn’t be possible without him.
The event will be the same as the one last year. James and Lenny from Aston Installations are coming over from England. James will give a bit of background about himself, his career, his involvement with infotainment systems, and his work with Aston Martin. We’ll also be able to sort your cars out if you want to have them upgraded. Here’s a video showing what these guys can do:
Since then, James and Lenny have continued to develop their products and capabilities. The big update is that they’ve now created an integration of CarPlay for the ‘06-13 V8 Vantage and DB9. They’re working on making a video showing that setup to give everyone an idea of what to expect.
The Tech Day will take place Sunday, 28 April, 2019. The event will begin at 9:00 AM, but we’ll be there by 8am to get set up and prepare for the day. We may have a car or two getting worked on before the event begins and we’ll ask that those customers arrive at 8am so we can start on their cars immediately. We will discuss early arrival with those specific customers, so don’t worry about that.
Berli’s Body & Fine Auto Finishes will be the hosting venue. Their address is 1489 Grand Ave Pkwy, Pflugerville, TX 78660. They’re located 15-20 minutes north of downtown Austin and are the only bodyshop in the Austin area certified with Aston Martins.
We’re working on a couple other things, including a road rally on Saturday, the day before the Tech Day, and I’ll post updates as we get that sorted.
I’ll be providing a full list of options for what’s available in case you want to have your car fitted while James and Lenny are here. The price list will show the total price of each option including installation so there won’t be any surprises. I’ll have a form to fill out that will include a variety of details to help ensure each installation goes as smoothly as possible.
We’ll have a few installations done on-site during the Tech Day, and we’ll be taking care of more of them on Monday and Tuesday as well. More information about this will be provided soon!
California and Elsewhere
I was originally planning to do my next Tech Day in northern California, but I got a tepid response when I proposed it. Meanwhile, a bunch of Texans said they wanted a Tech Day. I took a step back and Austin made better sense given all the things I need to take into account, so Austin is our next one. After mentioning this on a forum, I did get some emails from people in California saying they were interested in that one but either hadn’t said anything or were waiting for more details before saying anything.
Organizing a Tech Day is a daunting task. I’m fairly agile when it comes to travel, but I’m looking to bring in industry gurus to make these events something really special. In this case, James and Lenny are the best in the world for Aston Martin infotainment systems. In order for them to come to the US for a Tech Day, they have to close down their business in England, which means no money coming in, and then pay for airfare, lodging, etc, while they’re here. It’s a big risk for them, and they’re taking me on my word that it’ll be worthwhile. The last thing I want to do is jeopardize their well-being, so I need to make sure there’s a good business case for them to put everything on hold back home to come over here.
So if you’re interested in a Tech Day in your area, please do say something. It’s really difficult to pull off but I do want to do more of these.
Emails, Messages, and Phone Calls
I understand how frustrating it can be when someone is unresponsive with emails, so I don’t get upset when people say they’re frustrated with me when I don’t respond. As most of you know, Redpants is a side business. I have a day job that puts a roof over my head and food on my table. Redpants does not do that, and it isn’t really making me any money because I reinvest all of the money I get from it. I use revenue from Redpants to expand inventory, fund development of new products, and to test things before I sell them.
For example, I put over $4,000 into brake pads and rotors that I was interested in selling as an aftermarket option. I wasn’t happy with the products or the manufacturer, so I basically had to write off that money as a loss. Trying to get the lighting products made has cost me a fortune, and you’ve all seen how well that process went. Even simple things can be costly - my lightweight lug nuts were a five-figure investment.
The reason I’m saying that is because Redpants doesn’t make me any money. I can’t live off of it, nor can I afford to hire someone to do much of it for me. I’d absolutely love to raise prices so I can afford to hire someone, or at least so I had some spare cash to compensate myself for the 30-50 hours per week Redpants takes in addition to my day job. But I already spend a god-awful amount of time helping people out that then go and buy stuff from a cheaper source and raising prices is just going to exacerbate that issue.
I use Instagram and Facebook to have a social media presence and as a way to post notices about things like new blog posts and whatnot. Messaging on those is tedious (at best) so email is by far a better means of communication. I don’t have my cell phone on me during the day so I generally don’t give out my number. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to people - trust me, I’ll chew your ears off for hours - but it just isn’t feasible for me.
I just wanted to go over all this so people would know that I’m not just blowing things off or ignoring emails. I work all day, every day, and it’s impossible to keep up with everything. But I’m still trying because I know the work I do is helping.
I’ve gotten several inquiries about my red V8 Vantage that I’m selling. I have a buyer coming to look at it tomorrow. I gave him the right of first refusal and he’s traveling here from Virginia to look at the car. I’m not going to sell the car out from under him so I won’t be entertaining other interest until he sees the car tomorrow.
The Exterior Lighting products have arrived and they do look much better this time around, so production should be good to go from now on. I do still have a ton of QA, sorting, and packaging to do. Monday is a Federal Holiday here in the USA so shipments will start going out on Tuesday.