Not much new news in the world of bamboo. We’ve still got plenty of great material in both the Seattle and New Jersey warehouses as well as with John Chapman in the UK (http://www.chapmanblanks.co.uk/). For more information on our current stock in the US, see http://www.bamboobroker.com/products.html.
The bigger news of the day is that I have been diagnosed with cancer. After a few weeks of feeling ill last November, we finally ran some blood tests which lead to a colonoscopy which revealed a tumor at the top of my large intestine. Officially, I have stage IV colon cancer. [The “staging” which ranges from 0-4 is a measure of whether or not the cancer has metastasised (spread). A rating of zero means the cancer has stayed put as is generally easier to eliminate from the body. Never wanting to go the easy route, my disease decided to “go big or go home” and went straight for a stage of 4. For me this means that the cancer has spread via my lymph nodes and blood throughout my torso and has sprouted up in my abdomen, sternum, lungs and liver.]
I was diagnosed the day before Thanksgiving. I have deliberated long and hard whether or not to share this information with the rod-making community. As many of you know, I started this company as a spry young man in my mid-twenties. I’d been working in the world of bamboo flooring and when I was made aware of this interesting market; it seemed like a grand opportunity for adventure (and maybe an okay business opportunity… I hit on one of two). In any event, that was 1996 and since then, through countless meetings at gatherings and in your shops, homes, pubs and even on a few rivers, I’ve made a lot of great friends and realized that most every single one of my business transactions is, in part, a personal endeavor. Thus, it made all the sense in the world to share such important information about my health.
However, there has been one concern that has kept me from sharing this information with the community at large. Now that news of my disease has spread, it is time to address this concern head on.
Our business was slow in the summer and fall of 2013. It was as slow as it’s ever been in my 18 years of business. A result of this is that by November, I decided to not order a new batch of cane for 2014. Based on my calculations, I believe that we are currently sitting on enough stock to last us until the spring of 2015. For the first time in all our years, I told my supplier in China that I would not be coming to select poles this year.
Now, my concern is that, out of fear that their source of their bamboo may in danger of drying up due to sickness or death, some rod-makers may decide that they need to buy more than their usual supply of poles. If enough people did this, then I fear that we would run out of bamboo. To reiterate, we don’t have plans to restock our cane supply until the spring of 2015 so running out of bamboo before the end of 2014 would make things difficult on many of us.
But news is news and it isn’t going to stay contained forever. I have cancer. My version of cancer is a very serious and potentially deadly issue (though please know that I am staying positive). I’ve finished my second round of chemotherapy and I’m feeling good but no one in the world can say what will happen with me over the next year. Among my “contingency” plans I have thought a lot about the company and one way or another, we will keep the supply of first-rate bamboo flowing to rod-makers. This business has been a very big part of my life for almost 20 years and I’m not about to let it slip away even if I am to slip from this earthly realm. I’ve worked long and hard to create a secure source of consistently high quality material and regardless of what happens with me, the supply will remain in place. I have good people that work with me on both sides of the water and those people can continue to do what they do. The main piece of the puzzle is working with someone who can do what I do during my selection process every year in China. Please know that I am focused on ensuring that this continues.
What I ask is the folks please trust in the process of both my health as well as your continued access to top quality bamboo. The game is really in your hands; if people jump in and start buying more than their normal quantities of cane, we very well could run out of bamboo. Because harvest season dictates when these poles are available for me to select/import, there is simply no way for me to procure more bamboo between May and November of any given year (the normal course is that my suppliers buy the poles in December, I wait until Feb/Mar to go and select the poles, we import them in May-ish). If we run out of bamboo in May of 2014… that means that I would not be able to get more bamboo into the country for an entire year.
So I ask that everyone please stick to your normal orders. That will ensure that we have plenty of cane for everyone for all of 2014. If we run out a year from now it won’t be too long a wait to get the new supply in but if people start stocking up now, it would put a damper on others ability to access new cane. [… through the Bamboo Broker. I well understand that this is a free market and if I can’t sell you bamboo then someone else can/will step in and make it happen. C’est la vie.]
Thank you all for your continued support of my business and for your thoughts, prayers and considerations regarding my health. Please know that I am surrounded by many wonderful and supportive family members and friends and that I’m receiving some of the best cancer care in the world. I am being very well cared for.
Best regards to all and have a Happy New Year!!