In one of the very first perspective columns I wrote for this industry newspaper nearly seven years ago, I cautioned mold makers and molders to beware of the inventor. Inventors, I said then, ``are often long on ideas and short on cash.'' They come to people in our industry to get a mold built and have parts molded so they can sell millions of some gadget and make everyone rich.
There's just one hitch. These people rarely have enough money to buy a mold. That is where you mold makers/molders come into the picture. If you'll build the mold for nothing and run the first several thousand parts - enough to get this gizmo started in the market - you'll be cut into the deal.
Promises can't be taken to the bank, however, as once again some mold designers, mold makers and molders continue to find out the hard way. I got a phone call from a molder/mold maker who found out he was one of several industry businessmen to be taken by a guy with a great idea.
The first molder/mold maker was scammed into building $30,000 worth of molds, with a promise of ownership in the inventor's company and a share of the profits when the product went big. However, when the molder wanted payment for several hundred sample parts prior to doing the production run, the inventor refused and disappeared.
He surfaced at molder/mold maker No. 2, who had no idea about molder No. 1. Molder No. 2 demanded a down payment prior to starting to build the molds. But that's all he ever got from the inventor. When the molder demanded to be paid for the mold after sending sample parts, the inventor again disappeared.
The inventor has since contacted yet another molder/mold maker to get yet another set of molds built.
What's difficult for me to understand about this is that these firms invested much time and expense on a project with no contract, no written instructions and no purchase order. In the case of molder No. 2, he hadn't even met the inventor; all his transactions were done over the phone.
None of the principals in any of the companies who got pulled into this deal are ignorant men. They all have been in the plastics industry for at least 20 years. They are good at their trade and run successful businesses.
Given that, I don't feel sorry for any of these molders, or any others who call me crying in their soup about being taken by an individual with a great idea.
As long as there are molders out there who will work without written contracts, who will break all the rules of good business in order to go for the promised golden carrot, there will be individuals with no money, just a great idea and a promise.
Goldsberry is a Plastics News correspondent based in Phoenix.