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The Complex Burden of Accuracy

 

Dana and I (Joe) started ANOVOS as fans with a passion for making costumes and props at a professional level. In the early years of the company, we relied on experience gained from time spent within the fan community and applied it to our business, focusing on craftsmanship, quality, and accuracy. We were small, nimble and able to react quickly.  For us, passionate fans to the core, our greatest struggles have been finding the appropriate balance between creating a highly accurate replica and the time it takes to make that replica as accurate as we want it to be. The “complex burden of accuracy” has caused us an immense amount of pain, largely in the form of compounded delays.

We are fortunate to have access to original assets at an unprecedented level. We have leveraged that access by investing in a first-rate, research team who use the best technology to capture every nanometer in efforts to bring you the most exacting licensed props to exist.

With that access comes a tremendous amount of expectation, from our licensors, from you, and from ourselves. Our focus on accuracy is relentless, but that focus has come at a number of costs. To keep costs reasonable, we utilize overseas manufacturing partners. This is a challenging process because we create highly specific (nearly bespoke) products, in a mass-manufacturing environment.

The challenge becomes compounded by the complex nature of our products (different materials and specialized techniques) and the need to use multiple vendors. To arrive at a counter sample (their version of our prototype) all vendors have to be choreographed in schedule and task. With more vendors, comes an exponential increase in variables. If multiple prototypes are required, delays occur and in extreme cases, vendors substituted, running the risk of starting the production timeline all over again. Unfortunately, this has happened more times than we’d like to admit.

This process has caused delays, costing us time and money. We could simply allow a product to go through as-is, but that isn't who we are and that isn't the product we want to place into your hands. While it is hard to put a true percentage on accuracy, we like to say a final product is around 90–95% as accurate as the first prototype. The complexity of working with multiple vendors to produce our required level of accuracy creates a web of management that includes a constant dance and orchestration of input and feedback, all of which takes time, causing delays. Again, this could all be avoided if we simply accepted "good enough" product, but that is not who we are.

In early 2018, we were forced to come to terms with the fact that we were no longer keeping up with our promised delivery dates. We discovered what I have relayed above: our delays were largely due to our overwhelming commitment to accuracy sometimes sending back production samples as many times as 4–6 times until it was done correctly. Thus, until we had a clear path forward to mitigate our need for accuracy and the hiccups it was causing, we hit the brakes on pre-orders just after May 4, 2018.

Our first step was to make dramatic shifts in both our thinking and approach.

Simplify : First, we had to admit we can’t do it all. It was a painful acknowledgment, but with the size and scope of our offerings, the sheer volume and complexity that comes with managing the web of vendors per project was overwhelming. It has led us to realize that we have to protect our timelines by being more careful about which product pathways we choose now. Thus, we are shifting our focus to products that can be manufactured with as few factories as possible, streamlining our product and reducing the possibility of delays. This seems simple, but the implications are vast. As a result, while you were unlikely to know why, you may have noticed a simplification of the type of product we have brought to pre-order in 2019.

Bringing it Home: Second, we are bringing a select number of production runs here to the United States. While we can't do large volume here due to cost, small runs of product that demand a skilled artist's hand are viable for stateside production. The quality of our US team's work is impeccable, rivaling the quality as seen in the originals! As I type this, we are moving more product lines, including some prop collectibles, to our US manufacturing teams. This effort not only upholds our commitment to accuracy, but also creates a more dependable timeline for delivery to you.

Delivery Expectations: In the next few weeks we will be updating our expected delivery dates. After an exhaustive analysis of the past five years, we now have a more accurate assessment of how long the average product takes to manufacture. While this won't correct past issues, it does help ensure that your expectations are properly set when you purchase an item from us. Secondly, because we will also have parallel manufacturing in the USA, we are able to better ensure a shorter timeline for more products.

Internal Growth: We remain proud of our products and are equally proud of our project managers who have evolved along with this process. They have continued to respond admirably to the ever-changing demands we placed on them and have seen us through the worst of times. They are working hard to constantly upgrade our procedures, and we have already seen huge improvements in all aspects of our production schedule. Many products that have been long delayed are finally starting to ship to you. Our faith in them has never been more steadfast.

I sincerely hope by cracking the door and allowing you a glimpse into our process, it has provided a bit more understanding of both our current strengths and past weaknesses. More importantly, I hope I have conveyed the absolute resolve we all have to get it right despite many challenges.

Your continued feedback has been a huge source of inspiration. Thank you for giving us the chance to be better. We are listening. We are improving.

 

Joe Salcedo, CEO ANOVOS Productions LLC

Dana Gasser, COO ANOVOS Productions LLC

Anovos Productions LLC April 09, 2019 0 tags (show)

Comments

Peter

Peter said:

Want a best seller? Start making Star Trek TOS boots. Real or faux leather. Thanks.

Anthony Castorani

Anthony Castorani said:

Bring all of it back into the US. Its not as costly as you perceive it to be, your deliveries would be on schedule and in the end you will have sold more product. There are many effective States for manufacturing – but YES not CALIFORNIA. You need to evaluate more middle US states like Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Indiana. Reasonable Costs of living along with reasonable wage expectations would bring together a successful operation.

John Shirley

John Shirley said:

Thank you for the updates. I did notice that items made in the US fit differently than those made in Asia. For example I own both the standard and Premier line of the FC uniform. The premier line jacket fits much better and two sizes smaller than the standard line.

Nick Lillios

Nick Lillios said:

Joe and Dana,
I commend your transparency and commitment to your customers by providing this follow up to our concerns. It can be very humbling to acknowledge some shortfalls with the risk of losing customers. I’m sure I share the appreciation with your other customers for being upfront and addressing our frustrating concerns with shipping. Thank you.
I also wanted to extend my appreciation for your commitment to quality that so many of us desire with these replicas. True fans such as us want only the best and Anovos delivers (when they can).
Please continue your search for viable solutions that do not take away the integrity of your product. Your replicas are second to none and we hope to continue to have the opportunity to purchase more of your products in the future. In other words, don’t go anywhere!
Thank you!

Kieron Ford

Kieron Ford said:

Keep up the good work. Good and honest people are rare.

Jesse J. McClear

Jesse J. McClear said:

I totally get it, guys. I’ve been in your shoes before. Hang in there.

Kind Regards
Jesse

Weldon Lewis

Weldon Lewis said:

So far so good 😁 can’t wait to see what yall fo next . A book on your products and manufacturers process would be really cool and something I’m sure tons of collectors would love to see

William Eggler

William Eggler said:

I know this is beating a dead horse but I do think it bears repeating. For me, and I’m sure for other customers as well, the issue isn’t so much how long it takes for you to manufacture and deliver product as much as it’s the inaccuracy of your delivery estimates. If you said up front that an item is going to take two years to get into my hands I’d be a lot more understanding than if you said it’s going to take one year and then made me wait two years anyway. I just think it’s better to be slow and realistic than to be slow and unrealistic about your shipping estimates because slow and realistic can be frustrating but slow and unrealistic frankly seems a bit dishonest and that’s not good when we’re talking about products that often cost thousands of dollars. Anyway, I appreciate the hurdles you have to get over in order to offer high-quality products and I’m grateful for what you do, especially in regard to the Star Trek license since there simply aren’t all that many companies willing to make a serious investment in bringing top-shelf products to Star Trek fans like me. Please don’t give up, we’re all rooting for you to keep on going!!!

Jake S.

Jake S. said:

Keep up the great quality, thank you.

Heath Harper

Heath Harper said:

Guys this is what we need to be included in the process. I applauded you for being forthcoming. Being told something and far better that being told nothing. I am a customer and also a authorized retailer. With that we too need information for our clients as well. Thank you for making these changes and myself and my clients wait for your amazing products.

Sean Glennon

Sean Glennon said:

I think your products are amazing and I wish you continued success in reaching your goals. I know it will be a long wait for my Bobbafett blaster but I know it will be worth it ! Just be transparent and honest and everything will be fine all the best keep up the good work

TonyP

TonyP said:

I applaud your efforts to make the improvements to delivery times public. As a consumer, I of course hope the results are more items available sooner with accurate delivery prediction dates. I wish you nothing but success.

Jordan

Jordan said:

Dear Dana and Joe,
Thank you for your honesty and candor in this message. I think many of us who work in business understand and empathize with you about the complexities of the challenges you have faced with working towards producing a superior product.
And I think anyone who strives to honorably bring an idea of fantasy into the real world is fraught with the same struggles you have mentioned here.
In taking this all into consideration, I will continue to be patient and excited about the beautiful pieces of art that I know you are striving so hard to produce for me.

Your fan,
Jordan

James Rannabargar

James Rannabargar said:

Thank you for the detailed explanation of the obstacles that have delayed the release of Anovos products. As an avid collector of Star Wars prop replicas, I have purchased several of your helmet reproductions. Every one has been incredible! The Darth Vader helmet is the best I have ever seen and sits as the centerpiece of my collection along side my Anovos Kylo Ren. Everything I have received from your company has been worth the wait. Please don’t compromise your quality to meet time expectations. Most Star Wars collectors have become accustomed to delays in prop manufacturing. It’s not an easy process to produce perfection.

Juan Batista

Juan Batista said:

Very well!! Now if you listen sincere. We must continue supporting them. I hope my luke helmet

Barry Rice

Barry Rice said:

Glad to hear you’re addressing the problems that have given even us diehard fans a “love-hate” attitude.

Power up those replicators!

Michael Gonzalez

Michael Gonzalez said:

Although I’m disappointed at not receiving my product by its intended delivery date I understand the reasons why it has not come yet and appreciate the update on information. Thank you

Scott King

Scott King said:

This goes a real long way in making me a customer for the next few years. I see real value in the growing pains you’ve had to endure. Indeed, one might even say it’s your chief asset. Now, if you’d make a division color available for the TWOK ensemble costumes other than white, I might be able to whip out that credit card a little bit faster….

Bradley Look

Bradley Look said:

Working in entertainment industry myself, I admire that quality that Anovos continues to bring to everything they do. Keep up the good work!!!

Jonathan Hasty

Jonathan Hasty said:

I’m the Operations Manager for a company that works very closely with importers in Asia. You guys stay at it. It is very frustrating at times, but if quality is sacrificed, the brand is lost. Good luck!

Frank Bonner

Frank Bonner said:

Thank you so much for the update and the quality you deliver. I appreciate that. Sometimes we get frustrated when things happen with delays, however in the end, your commitment to providing a quality product make it worth it.

Dave Femiak

Dave Femiak said:

It’s been said previously but here goes. I now own a number of your products and the quality has always been outstanding with the price being not ridiculous. While some of the delays have been a little frustrating I understand the reasoning. It also makes sense that as your business grows you’re learning about the process and improving it. Like most of us speaking out I’d rather wait longer for a product that’s finished right and to your satisfaction – I’m confident in these cases that they’ll be right for me. Please keep doing what you’re doing. I would rather wait. Thanks /Dave

Michael Aguera

Michael Aguera said:

Very thoughtful, informative and much appreciated. Thank you. :-)

Heather McGee

Heather McGee said:

It is nice to see this communication and transparency now about your processes especially the challenges but still very frustrating for those members like myself who have waited over two years for an order. If your timelines are more accurate then it allows us customers to know if we want to commit to a long wait period or look at other options. I am hoping you can rebuild trust with your customers since right now it just words and I want to see actions. I am hoping this will be posted since sometimes you will block responses if they are not so complimentary.

Michael Jones

Michael Jones said:

I’m a customer in the U.K. for both Star trek and Star wars items . I’d like to thank you for the update as you said you would. Now I not only see what issues you have , but understand that you haven’t just run off with my cash . Under no circumstances lower your standards of accuracy. You are in 1st place above all other manufacturers so again . Thanks for the update , keeping me informed is probably the biggest thing for me . Keep up ur fantastic work everyone and keep us all posted .

mike

mike said:

Your reasoning for the delays is clear, concise and commendable. At the same time, you can understand why we, your customers, have been mystified as to why there were such delivery delays. I, for one, am appreciative for your explanation and determination to do your best with getting our orders to us. I, therefore, accept your recommitment. May the wind be at your back in your endeavours to satisfy all past orders. I will do what I can to throw business your way. Besides, I always knew you had fine quality merchandise. They are absolutely the best around. Just fix the delivery aspect of this costume extravaganza and everything will be perfect. -m

Sorpigal

Sorpigal said:

For me the price doesn’t matter and the timeline doesn’t matter, only the final product, its quality, and its accuracy matter. If you must move production to the USA in order to achieve that, and if that means the price goes up, then so be it. Don’t stop being awesome.

In2thedarkside

In2thedarkside said:

Guys I applaud you for finally coming to realization that if you are to survive in the current climate you have to be transparent with your customers. Let us see where you are in the process . Time seems to pass quickly when you are looking forward to the next update . As opposed to waiting for the product t that may be a year off.

These are complex business situations with international issues that we cant even begin to understand and appreciate. Bravo ! Drop the Vail of mystery and show us the process . Let us see the production samples that don’t meet your standards and we can understand more the delays. We want the best that our hard earned money can buy. Not some half ass thrown together POS .

Commincation is key and I look forward to the next update on the process .

There is a lot of damage control to do for you and your goligues but I believe these steps are in the right direction.

Ed O'Connor

Ed O'Connor said:

I’m certainly not your best customer. However, to date, having spent several thousand dollars on your quality products; and, experienced/experiencing delays with current product, this letter is candid, seemingly forthright and sincerely good enough for me. A huge step in the right direction, to be sure. Growing pains of a company I want to see prosper and continue on. Thank you. Ilook forward to seeing evidence of that which you speak.

Alexander - MELBOURNE

Alexander - MELBOURNE said:

My thoughts have been pretty much covered by everyone else.

Thus far I have only been a 1 time customer and due to my experience largely due to the changing delivery dates, I have not come back.

I would like to buy more product, but as pointed out above I would rather know I have a 2 year wait, than be told 12 months and have it delivered in 2 years.

I think the general sentiment is not the wait period, logistics are logistics, it’s the inaccuracy of the forecasting that upset people. Which leads customers like myself to no spend more money with you.

I am thankful for your email and the honesty associated with it which was on point and the acknowledgment of your need for improvement.

I will endeavour to purchase another product and hope my experience is different this time.

Thank you and all the best Dana, Joe.

Enrique Ruiz

Enrique Ruiz said:

You guys are in the same boat as other collective figure makers. They don’t always meet deadlines and the QC process is always to blame.
So they only make as many figures as they are ordered in a preorder period of a month or so.
Then they advertise the release date to be a year or two years from now.
Eventually they grow through collector’s word of mouth.
An example of this is Good Smile Company, Max Factory and Flare.

Don’t give up just because you’re stumbling now.

Stuart

Stuart said:

The world can be “a treacherous hive of scum and villiany” good to know you are becomming strong in the ways of customer service.
Help me oh Anovos ! Your our only hope !

Jared Fielder

Jared Fielder said:

Dear Dana and Joe,

Thank you for your honesty and candor in your communications to us the customers. I placed an order with you because lets face it you are the best. Your products and quality beat the _____ out of the competition. With that being said as a Customer I will wait as long as it takes as long as you are communicating with me. However, when there is no communication customers tend to reach out to find out what is going on. I greatly appreciate the information that you are providing. I look forward to placing more orders in the future, so keep up the outstanding work. Like the rest of your customer don’t you dare ask me if I would like a refund as I would rather have an Anovos product.

John

John said:

I’ve been waiting more than 20 years for Star Trek costumes of this quality. A few more months—or even years—are okay with me if your incredible quality and eye to detail continue.

I appreciate your candor and transparency.

Your consistent excellence has resulted in a lot of customer loyalty, even amid such significant challenges. Keep up the good work, and you’ll continue to enjoy a customer base that is both patient and forgiving.

Joe Mooney

Joe Mooney said:

Thank you for the honest open letter. I am a one time customer (thus far) and I would love to buy more products. However, I agree with many of the other comments about the delays and the upfront communication regarding them. I am fully satisfied with my original storm trooper armor as far as the product goes. It did take 18 months to finally receive though. Which I was not so happy about. I applaud your efforts to source products here in the US!! I look forward to more product offerings – with a more accurate time table for delivery – and products made by our brothers and sisters here in the US.
Any business venture is a struggle – its never easy to air your struggles in public – thank you for the candor.
Best of luck!!
Joe

Jason S

Jason S said:

Acknowledging the past errors is certainly a first step. This is something to be applauded. With that being said, I was one of the many that went through the Stormtrooper debacle. It certainly wasn’t a great experience from a lead time or customer support perspective. Being in product development myself I realize the pains associated with the process. I would agree that if there is transparency then expectations can be managed. I think the real problem is taking money for a product that is not fully developed. Product development should be done prior to releasing a product for sale. It is far more palatable to hear updates on a product in development and not for sale yet rather than something you have spent the money on. My personal feeling was that the money that was spent by customers was used to fund the development and that is not fair to the customer.

With all of that said, I think the product is great and do not have a problem with it. the problem was with the process. I wish you best of luck in the future.

Mike

Mike said:

This is what I’ve been waiting for… I appreciate the transparency, it is challenging to run a business and keep up with demand and customers expectations. Like others have said, if I knew that it was going to take so long to receive my product I would have been ok with that. Under promise, over deliver is key. If you know it will take 8 months to deliver, tell your customers it will take 12 months. And then you deliver in 10 months. That makes customers happy! Keep up the honest messages and the good work.

Mickie Shaw

Mickie Shaw said:

Thank you for your explanation and for your honesty. I think you have the right idea bringing back production to the US. Los Angeles is full of people knowledgeable, some work in the industry, about making the products you sell. I know a few who are not working right now.

Jess Monaghan

Jess Monaghan said:

Joe/Dana,

Thank you for the candid overview. This new beginning sounds wonderful. I’m very happy to hear this commitment to quality, as I respect the drive you have for meeting the standard you’ve set for yourselves in this endeavor. I admit, when I saw the version 2 standard line TWOK uniforms, I hoped another run of the premiere line of may see the light of day. Then. when I saw the operations division undershirt, I even pondered the same thing as another customer has written re: division color options for the jackets themselves. In wondering when I might see any hint of movement on any of those possibilities I’ve been personally interested in, this brief insight you’ve provided describes some of the logistics to operate a business such as this, and goes a long way to demonstrate the turnaround from idea to reality isn’t always as fast as everyone would like, even when a change to an existing product seems small. Not to mention material supply, and personnel to perform the production runs of existing final designs, all at the quality level required. With all this being said, I look forward to what the future brings!

Best regards,
Jess Monaghan

Gregory Chism

Gregory Chism said:

Hi Joe and Dana,

Thank you for all you have done for us and are continuing to do for us. The work you provide for us is worth the wait. Those of us that live in the real world know all to well how it is not a perfect world. With that being said I of all people know that there are many things that are not going to go our way. So you are having problems and there are things you can’t control. It happens to us all sooner or later. Don’t be to hard on yourselves because you are producing works that no one else has even stepped up to do, or are even trying to do. Your competitors (If there were any) can’t get into your range of quality on your bad day. The fact that you are willing to tell your customers that you are having problems says a lot about the type of people you are. That you hate to let others down and you are willing to tell all just that. If I only knew just this about you, then that would be good enough for me. But I do know a lot about ANOVOS. Joe and I spoke a lot years ago (I doubt he remembers. So many people so little time) and I said this then and I reiterate it now once again, “I’ve been with you since the beginning and I am not about to leave you know!” I have faith that you will get it all worked out. Thank you for telling us what is happening! Thank you all for the hard work you do for us all and that you will continue to do for us! I’m sorry that you don’t hear that enough. I have nothing but time, if I can help, just let me know. Take care!

Greg

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