RE: [CR]Cooper vs Confente


Example: Framebuilders:Alberto Masi

From: "Jim Cunningham" <cyclartist@home.com>
To: <rocklube@adnc.com>
Cc: <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
Subject: RE: [CR]Cooper vs Confente
Date: Fri, 25 May 2001 01:49:56 -0700
In-Reply-To: <3B0D612E.2AA6@adnc.com>


Brian,

No surprises from you.

Mario's production was 123 frames in two years, not 85. Those two years began when he returned from Italy, and included doing much more than building frames. He created that "state of the art" shop, it was not handed to him. He designed tooling and fixtures, even fabricating things like his own top tube guides and bridges. He developed what was then leading edge investment casting and dropout designs. That time also included moving his shop twice and retooling. Keep in mind that those frames, of which about 1/3 were delivered as complete bikes, were built using no investment castings, and few prefab purchased bits. There was almost no use of power tools. Comparing to someone else's recent production from an established shop with modern materials is irrelevant. Since you bring it up, how many frames have you built in the past 2 years?

The only "demands" Mario made of "generous" Bill Recht was that he honor the agreement with which they started, that he not steal Mario's designs and that he treat him honestly and fairly.

I am in possession of a virtually complete set of all correspondence from that period between Mario, his customers, suppliers and Bill Recht. Your assertions of Mario making demands, and your presumption that he was locked out for not producing are completely false. Mario accepted investment money in good faith and held to the terms of the agreement. It's clear that Recht did not. Mario's business was a financial success, and could have repaid Recht's original investment at the end of the two years as planned. I have the financial records to bear that out. When Recht took all that Mario had built, including nearly $6,000 in deposits against on 18 unbuilt frames, Mario delivered them anyway. He was given a workshop to work in during that time by George Farrier, but despite George wanting him to stay, he left as soon as he could to regain his independence. He had nearly achieved the independence he sought when he married Lisa and restarted his business in Cardiff. He needed only some short term extra income to get his Cardiff operation going. I'm sure your version of things was influenced by the Medici crew, who were not in any position to know what was happening at Mario's shop, but had to come up with some respectable explanation for how they inherited it.

No one asked for your position or advice on investors. Perhaps you could share about your experience(s) with bankruptcy.

JFC Vista, CA

-----Original Message----- From: Brian Baylis [mailto:rocklube@adnc.com] Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2001 12:30 PM To: Jim Cunningham Cc: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org Subject: Re: [CR]Cooper vs Confente

Jim,

A few points you may not have to considered.

First, producing a total of 85 frames over about a 2 1/2 year period (and not haveing to paint them besides) doesn't qualify as "fast" or "effecient" in my book. Richard Sachs can produce that number in a year singlehandedly and the frames are every bit the equal of any Confente. That's effecient.

Second, having a state-of-the-art workshop which was entirely at the expense of someone else in which to do such work doesn't add any weight to your statements. A first class workshop and the obligations to meet someone elses expectations (usually based on what one told them one is capable of) always leads to the situation of compromise in some form or another. We all know what it lead to in Marios' case. Making demands to someone who generously put one in business, and not producing, leads to things like lockouts and such. I have seen it in the case of several other builders in addition to Mario. Worse than that would be taking money from investors and then not living up to the deal. Again, I prefer not to put myself in that position.

Everyone has a different way of marketing and "weeding" out customers that aren't the types that one wants to do business with. I do away with "investors" and "eyewash" in the form of a fancy sign and a cleanroom type workshop. If the customer isn't here out of respect for the individual type of person I am, and they're not judging me by my resulting frames, then they came to the wrong place. So to infer that ones shop is an extention of the end result is not a wise conclusion. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of people who think that way and that's fine with me. But I prefer not to "entertain" them in that way. Since I know full that my legacey will have nothing to do with my workshop, only the quality and consistency of my work; and the fact that I never compromise or sugarcoat it in any way, I feel comfortable in contiuning as I have in the past. Don't know what Ron Coopers' shop is like, but whatever it is the result are fine frames being produced over the past 30 years.

It's nothing personal Jim, just a statement that seeks to shed light on the subject from a different perspective. As always, there's more than one way to skin a cat. Just stay away from my cats!

Brian Baylis Not claiming to be anything, other than what I am. La Mesa, CA
>
> I've prepped the naked steel of many frames by both these builders and they
> are both first rate. I see no reason to render opinions placing one over
> the other.
>
> In working with Confente, I witnessed his technique and work habits first
> hand. I can make comparisons of that to the dozen or more builders I have
> seen work.. Mario's speed, precision and fastidiousness were incomparable.
> Everything place, no wasted motions, focused, a hard worker in full command
> of his craft. Amazing to watch. I've seen others who create a fine
> product, but do so inefficiently, at a casual pace and in a slovenly
> environment. Not that this matters to the end consumer, but in the question
> of what makes a great builder I'd say that these attributes are important.
> Mario had the skill and discipline to bring excellent value and/or
> profitability to full time building of artisan frames. Also, as was
> certainly so in my case, his skill was a lasting inspiration.
>
> I've never met Ron Cooper, but judging by the fine work and long, full time
> building career, I suspect Ron Cooper has many or all of these attributes.

>

> JFC

> CyclArtist

> Vista, CA