How to approach this?


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Dec 1, 2004
New Westminster, B.C. Canada
I am new to this board and have done a bunch of reading. Boy have my eyes gotten big at some of the pictures! About 1.5 years ago I was taken under the wing of a friend who used to run a couple of galleries and framing studios. We were talking at work about life and he started asking me a bunch of questions. I now understand that he was testing me. He was getting ready to retire and resume framing as a job/pastime in his retirement. He had some business plans that we would talk about, with his idea being that I would "help" him with the business and production. We started framing together and I started to learn. I would do my jobs, he would do his, but we always consulted (I even had some good ideas that he used :eek: )! I like the process and feel a large amount of satisfaction with each frame I produce.
Unfortuately, and unexpectedly his life was cut short last summer.....he had not retired yet....Boys and girls, when the doctor says to look after yourself listen, and don't forget to enjoy life!
So here is my dilema. I still have lots to learn. I can handle basic stuff pretty well (basement framer currently). I am spending a couple of hours every night to get stuff finished. There are no workshops offered in my local area currently. I can't make the show in Vegas this year (family illness). I want to learn more, and get exposed to other techniques. I have ordered the first 4 LPPF Kistler books. That will help. There is a shop close to my home that has been around for a long time. I am considering presenting myself to the owner/framer to ask him to be a mentor. I really don't think that I take any of his business. Mine (so far) comes from work aquaintances and friends and they would be more likely to use big box framers than custom shops.
My question today is this? As a shop owner how would you feel about someone approaching you (who you have never met) with that proposition. I currently work full time as a technician, and am not willing to give it up for at least 7 more years (pension). I am thinking that if I was to work in his shop (doing only his work) for say 4 hours a weekend, I could learn, and maybe take some pressure off of him. I am sure there are all kinds of considerations I am not considering, and that is what I am tossing out there...Comments?
Go at it...I have thick skin (sort of).

If you want to know who my mentor was please email me directly, and let me know who you are. His wife is okay with me talking about it but they are really a private family...Thanks.
Phoneguy, I think that if you were to tell the framer this story, They might help you out. (Sides, you could also tell them about the Grumble... that might get you in good graces.) :D

So far, you have a good start. Read the books, and read the archives here on the Grumble. Just remember that this forum, like all forums, have people from ALL education backgrounds. Some really do know what they are talking about, and some don't. Recearch, and read... if you have questions, ask. Good luck, and welcome to the Grumble!
Phoneguy - I think that you are wise to consider that the shop owner you wish to approach may react badly to someone coming in and making such an offer.

Why not simplify your approach? Just ask if he is looking for part-time help, and if he is, treat your story as if it were your resume. It is, isn't it?

There should be no threat to him if you express the desire to take up the business when you retire from your current field, but for now you are looking to become accomplished in your skills.

Note: I just had a person come in and tell me a sob story about a family member causing him to lose his big & profitable frame business, which was in another part of the country, of course. He wants to work for free to learn my shop and then he wants to use my equipment to frame some art that he has in order to sell them. The alarms and flashing lights were going off in my head the whole time. He really should've kept his sob story and plans to himself.

For you however, your story is rather compeling. But I would present your plans in a non-threatening way.

Hope it works out for you!
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Ask him how he'd feel about it. Maybe he would welcome the help. From what you said, it sounds like he works by himself. So do I. I occassionally have friends come in and work with me, but quite honestly, I get far more done alone than when I have a "helper".

He may or may not be willing to train you, but you could take over some basic tasks. Tell him you are even willing to take the trash out, run errands, answer the phone professionally so his work isn't as interupted, etc. Just being in the environment you will absorb quite a bit. It is probably one of the best educations for a career change and will allow you to see the day to day operations.

Another consideration if he works alone and has never had employees...if you hire someone as an employee, even for one hour, it changes your business status and you have to file forms monthly for the rest of the life of the business. If this is an objection, offer to work for free or some credit for framing materials or something similar. I am not sure of the legalities though. If you're thinking only four hours a week, you are obviously not doing it for the money.

I have one helper who , as part of her high school curiculum, is required to be an unpaid apprentice at a business for 15 hours a week. She has been helpful, but I don't accomplish near as much while she's here because of constant questions, her friends stopping in, etc. However, it is nice to have company and a young person to liven things up a bit. Her parents are very good customers also. After the holiday rush I'm going to have a sit-down with her and tell her I will train her in the basics and I will expect some production from her.

You'll never know until you ask your potential mentor. If your personalities don't conflict or other problems arise and let him know you are willing to step out if there are any problems, he may be thrilled to have you come aboard. I would welcome someone serious about helping and learning as part time, but do not want, at this time, to start hiring employees. I had 33 employees in my former business and am relishing having to only solve the problems I create. I'm outsourcing many things in order to keep up with increasing demand.

Go for it and good luck!

Dave Makielski
I, on the other hand, would say, "Thank you so much for thinking of us, but we are not taking on any help right now." What I would mean is, "I am sorry, but I am not training competition. You are welcome to join PPFA, attend meetings, participate in the bulletin boards, learn a lot, open your own business and I will treat you as a colleague. But it takes a lotta lotta time to train someone properly, and a) I haven't the time, and b) I don't want to train someone who plans to open up in the same town." Sorry if this sounds harsh, but we get approached at least once a month by someone who thinks we should be glad to teach him the business in exchange for cheap or free labor. But, it don't cost nothin' to try...
I'm with Ellen on this one. Four hours a week to teach somebody a craft does not give me any advantage at all. I always allowed 3-4 months for a fulltimer to be fairly qualified when I trained people. The ones who worked one day a week never advanced beyond fit and finish and clean up duties.

I wouldn't have a problem if somebody worked with me regular hours and went on to start their own business somewhere down the line. Sure, I would have trained them to be a framer but in turn they would have been under my employ and been a productive employee.

Spending 4 hours a week with somebody would do nothing to further my business. Sounds selfish but it is a business.

Soooooo, I sure as heck wouldn't tell the potential frameshop owner of your ultimate plan, but I wouldn't expect anybody to hire you for 4 hours a week and expect them to train you much beyond the basics.

I am very jaded in this area. I have hired and trained so many people over 20 years that I am just way too dubious of anybodies intentions. I'd say 90% of the people who I had working for me over the years that worked one day a week were there strictly for the discount, oops frames, scrap matboard,use of the equipment etc.

I Don't mean to suggest that is your intention, just being truthful.

[ 12-10-2004, 07:40 PM: Message edited by: Emibub ]
Welcome to the Grumble Phoneguy Canuck. Lower BC, can you be a little more specific?

When you are ready, Canadian Picture Framers School in Vancouver with Grant Smith is a terrific place to start.

In addition, on March 20th, 2005 in Seattle, The Evergreen Picture Framers Guild is hosting its 12th annual festival, Sat is the CPF test and re-certification classes, Sunday is classes all day long, ending with a fabulous social hour and Monday is a one day lecture sponsored by LJ. Great weekend to meet your fellow framers from down below and should only be about a 2 hour drive. Hope to see you there.
Originally posted by Frame Lady:
Welcome to the Grumble Phoneguy Canuck. Lower BC, can you be a little more specific?

New Westminster , a suburb of Vancouver...Actually a city in its own right.

In addition, on March 20th, 2005 in Seattle, The Evergreen Picture Framers Guild is hosting its 12th annual festival, Sat is the CPF test and re-certification classes, Sunday is classes all day long, ending with a fabulous social hour and Monday is a one day lecture sponsored by LJ. Great weekend to meet your fellow framers from down below and should only be about a 2 hour drive. Hope to see you there.
Could you please post a link or tell me how I could get more information on this?

Thanks everyone for answering, both positive and less so. I appreciate honesty, and want to hear all sides to the issue. I did have some rebutles to some of the "issues" that have been presented, but then I realized that they are in good faith, and made me think. That is what I asked for, right! Anyone else have anything to add. I am not going to make any moves for the next month anyway. My dad is in the hospital, and I have to travel to see him, Sometimes with
the kids and my wife, and sometimes alone. It would not be fair to approach a potential mentor at this time....Unless he reads this, and really wants the help that I can offer