InternetExplorer, on Monday, February 27th, 2012, 5:31 PM, said:
since this is essentially the thread about nothing, what kind of capital would I need to start out doing what you do?
The balloon business is about image. Professionalism is a hard image to obtain. The balloon guy is the lowest person on the job usually, but sometimes they are the most important, like at all political rallies, or at New Year's Eve.A good blower can set you back $200. A auto-sizer from Conwin runs about $800. Quality nozzles run about $150 each.Then you just need a job and you buy the latex to order.Skills though....they are priceless. Case in point yesterday:It seemed like any ordinary balloon job. My client, ATP, is having a convention at the Westin. They wanted imprinted balloons to last 4 days. They first asked about latex....latex? Those last 12-16 hours. But that's the job, educating while selling. She eventually went the way so many balloon clients go, cheap. She orders foil balloons herself ( foil is the correct word, not Mylar, which is a trade marked name for the material, so not used when discussing foil balloons ) she ordered foil balloons from an imprinting company. One of those promotional ens, cups awards etc companies. Of course they over heated the application of the logo on their 18" round purple foils...rookies.The result was that the foils were fused together, and as I inflated them, they began ripping. About 1 in 3 were able to inflate, 2 in 3 popped. This set the client into shock. I was being paid $500 to inflate 250 foil balloons and attach them to a ribbon and then cluster them into groups of 15 in each cluster. So pop or not, I was being paid the same, and since they ordered these themselves, I was relaxed knowing that I carried no blame.The poor woman was at her wits end, and being a gentleman I offered the best advice in the industry: "If the biggest problem you have in a 4 day conference is these balloons, then you'll be just fine"She was not to be consoled though, so I began applying my extensive knowledge of the industry and took control."Get me an ironing board and an iron with a low setting."I then departed, as I had another party to do. I finished that one in record time and raced back. The ironing board had arrived and was waiting for me in the office, but alas the client had decided to hold an impromptu meeting on the ironing board with the chef and the catering manager for the Westin. Of course I remembered my place and after passing by twice to let her see me and realize that I had arrived, I then laid down on a sitting couch where I nearly fell asleep. 30 minutes passed, and I had a nice rest when the meeting broke up. I then went to work. I set the iron on low, took a sheet of paper and placed it on the foils over the imprint. I then passed the iron over the paper ( the paper was necessary to create a barrier between the thin fragile mylar material and the hot iron ) I removed the paper and tried to inflate it. The mylar was still sticking, but I slowly added helium at short bursts to create the pressure needed to separate the top from the bottom. IT GAVE! I was able to continue the job, and the client was thrilled. I was able to save about 30 foils that otherwise would have been good for nothing, and finished the clustering, being careful to only curl the tails with a modicum of pressure to ensure a soft curl and not the dreaded rookie looking 'pig tail' that so many of my brethren are guilty of. Oh the shame for my industry.The client was so happy she gave me a $50 target gift card which is a standard thing for meeting planners to give out as thank you's. I of course gave this to my wife later.Then off I rushed to my last job for the day, feeling the pride only the most skilled craftsman can feel, knowing they have exhausted the depths of their skills to overcome the adversity that would have crushed a weaker man.The delay however was a bad one. It was 2:15 and I had to drive 15 minutes to my warehouse where my recently repaired 8' tall Oscar was waiting to be delivered to a $12mm home at the nicest country club in the desert. I decided not to pre-load the Oscar that morning since it had fresh paint and glitter and I didn't want to get high driving the van since the AC is out and it was 85 degrees out. So I rushed to the warehouse, cleaned up, threw out 2 empty helium tanks ( don't get me started about the recent 50% increase in helium prices ) and loaded the Oscar and the base. Added the needed light and thanked my good fortune that the lights I would need were already loaded from the last party I did the night before. As I left I texted my client that I would be there are 3 for the 4PM start of the Oscar viewing party at this swanky house. He texted back please don't be later than 3. It was 2:35 and I had a 25 minute drive so off I flew. 1 mile away though I realized my mistake.I had done a job the night before where I was paid to light a golf course green behind the house of a man throwing a birthday party. $545 to put two 8' tall light towers with 3 source 4 lights on each. The job went fine, the midnight strike was annoying, but a good cigar and a book helped me as I listened to crappy DJ music while they went an hour past their 11 PM end time they had confirmed with me.The Oscar party requested a light tower in back with 2 lights on a dimmer to illuminate the area in the back yard that was too dark to comfortably seat guests. As I drove away I realized I had forgotten to grab the 4' extensions for the 2 1/2 inch pipe that I used for my light towers. I had two 8' pieces, but no way to make them 12'. It was make or break time. Do I turn around, and add 15 minutes to my time because of the need to unlock a gate, go in and retrieve the 4' extensions, and close the gate, all resulting in my arrival around 3:15 or even later...or do I just drive on and figure something out?Of course I trusted my vast experience at problem solving, and hoped there would be a way to place the 8' light tower on an elevated area to get the lights high enough to light up a back yard I had never seen....There wasn't.In fact the place I was told they wanted the lights was the lowest point in the yard. That's when my skills kicked in. I took the 8' pole and screwed it into the 50 lb base plate, added the 2 35# sand bags, and then found a ladder. I took my second pipe, and placed it half way up the first pipe. I then used gaf tape and began wrapping the two pipes together, obtaining a 12' tall pipe in the process. I know what you're thinking ( besides thinking you can't believe I wrote all this ): "Why didn't he lay the pipes down and tape them on the ground instead of holding a 10# pipe in one hand and try to tape it with the other?"Silly question.But if you saw how packed the tables were, and the location I had to place the base plate you wouldn't have asked that question. I had to wedge the base plate between 3 small cactus plants that required me to lift up their arms in order to slide the 50# base plates under the plants without damaging the plants. Of course I could never had done this with a 12' pole throwing off my ability to maneuver the base plate into position. ( and yes I was pricked twice, drawing blood )So after adding 5 more sections of tape for redundancy ( a safety factor necessary when suspending a pair of 1000 watt lights 12' above the heads of millionaires ) I was able to achieve the necessary rigidity needed to clamp on the two lights. I like to think I saved the party, but to the client, I just lit up the back yard. And you know what? That's all I ever want them to think.And then I found $5.