Clinton Detweiler ran Maher Studios from about 1979 through his retirement in the early 2000’s. He continued to be active in the vent community until his unexpected passing on January 22, 2013. I say this because there are some new members to the vent community who may not know his name. He was an important figure in the world of ventriloquism. His help and kindness touched so many lives and those who were friends still miss him every day.
The other day I visited Clinton’s old blog. His family left it online as a legacy and I still read it from time to time. A couple of his entries made me think about the way Maher Studios used to be run as compared to the current business model.
I spent yesterday printing lessons for the Maher Course. I printed and stapled them at Kinkos, but brought them home to fold. As I was working at our kitchen table (don’t have another place in the house to do such work) I was thinking, this is what you were doing 43 years ago when you started out – sitting at the kitchen table preparing lessons for Maher students! I guess we’ve come full circle!
That was followed by:
I spent most of today preparing five Maher Courses. I’ve been at this a long time and it still takes about one hour per Course with all the various components to: print, collate, staple, fold, gather, trim, bundle, drill, insert, seal, cut, assemble, sticker, register, double-check, box, label. And now that that’s done, I need to pack one Course for shipment to Pakistan. More bundling, wrapping, boxing, labeling, custom’s forms – not to mention $43 in required postage. I’ll order USPS pickup at the door – I’m ready for a nap!
This post was made a week before he passed. I reflected on that. He spent about one hour per course to assemble the booklets and package. They weren’t mass produced on a major scale. Ventriloquism doesn’t have the same type of demand as magic or other entertainment arts.
Today, everything has increased in price. Printing, papers, electric, wages, fuel, shipping, the cost of living – everything. That makes our time even more valuable. You must earn a living. Plus we live in an “I Want It Now” world. Admit it – you hate waiting for someone to make you a figure or custom puppet. You wait, but you want it!
That is why I have re-created Maher as an electronic product company. It still takes time to develop the products. Shoot & edit video. Create transcriptions, copy and photos. Plus do all the tasks of getting things laid out online and integrated with the system. But then, it is ready. No spending an hour to assemble each course.
The benefits are huge. You order something and chances are you will get instant access. No waiting! (Although there are occasional hiccups.) You save on printing and shipping. You don’t have to worry about losing it when you move – it is always available online in your user account.
Our overseas customers don’t have to pay crazy shipping costs. They don’t have to wait for the mail to finally arrive.
This type of product was foreign to most when I brought the technology into ventriloquism. But most have grown to love the ease and availability. Plus, I try my hardest to respond as quickly as possible to questions or solve problems.
What does the future hold? I don’t have a crystal ball. I’m not sure. But I know that forward thinkers will discover tools and techniques I never dreamed of. And I look forward to where the next generation takes our art!
At Maher Studios, I don’t sit at the table folding and stapling The Maher Course of Ventriloquism anymore. You can now get it for Kindle on Amazon.com!