Livingston Lines

Friends, family, and fellow model railroaders!

My name is Michael Livingston.  I am a long-haired, bearded musician and farm kid from central Illinois, and I love model railroading.  I started my repair career in a retail hobby store that offers train repair, and I decided I wanted to get away from the retail aspect to run my own model train repair business.  My predecessor believes, "You can do the train repair business standing on your head!!! You'd be great at it!!"  Personally, I think I would pass out very quickly and ruin my nice ponytail by standing on my head, but I appreciate the enthusiasm nonetheless.

Having a shop requires money to start.  Coming from retail pay wages, money is something of which I have very little.  I fortunately have all the tools, skills, ingenuity, capacity, and passion for the trade, but I have no proper place to work!  I have a dedicated desk space through WeWork--an international communal business company--in Thanksgiving Tower in downtown Dallas, but I still need a proper little room to myself.  The Tower has such a space, but it is expensive.

Expensive though it is to an individual, it is still far more cost-effective than owning or renting an entire building or retail-type space in a business strip, and the company provides many extra services that can aid the management and effiency of my work.  It provides mail shipping/receiving, office supplies and printing services, and a communal business environment that promotes an entire network of other business professionals from the immediate Dallas locale and international WeWork locations.

Ideally, I need to raise starting funds as soon as I can.  I have a little bit of work from some local clients and one interregional client from Illinois, but I must move my work space out of my tiny little room to be truly productive.  My cat, Maximus, and I barely have enough room to sleep.  It is very prohibitive.

I have spent several years trying to find my proper place in the world.  I thought I would be a band director in middle school, but I quickly realized that I am not made of the right stuff for that career.  My life's ambition soon became that of an orchestral musician, and that is how I focused my first six years of my college career.  I realized near the end of those six years that music performance would likely become a personal joy rather than a career, and I turned my sight to band instrument repair.  I have always been very good at working with my hands--building, constructing/deconstructing, learning, modifying.  I decided I should apply those skills and talents to music by way of band instrument repair.  I spent a year learning BIR in Minnesota, but, while I excelled at a few particular aspects, my heart was not truly vested.  It reflected in my work, and I decided to find something different for myself.

This is when I discovered and fell in love with model train repair.  I had not planned to do repair, but I did want to see if I could find something relating to model trains.  I just hoped for a general train sales associate position in some store, somewhere, but I was thrilled at the prospect of being the official train repair technician for four stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.  It was great for a while, but there was too much oversight and micromanaging, and I never had a weekend to relax and unwind.

When I started surrepititiously mentioning the idea of model train repair as a full-time gig, I received considerably more support and encouragement than I would have ever expected from my friends and coworkers.  The more I envisioned it and thought about it, the more I believed in myself.

Sometimes, success is all about timing.  Now is when train repair season is in full swing.  Seasoned railroaders know to bring in their trains for regular service well before Christmas time.  They bring them in and get a spot on the docket for a better chance of getting them back in time for Christmas.  If trains are brought in too late, they may not see the work bench until after Christmas is past due to the waitlist and sheer volume of trains needing service.  I need to make full use of this time of year.  I must pounce upon this opportunity while it is still widely open and available.

My most immediate expenditures will be my work space location, business mailing services, and insurance for my clients' property while in my care.  Right now, I have only an assured table space.  What I need is a dedicated room with space for my tools, test track, parts and supplies drawers, and an inevitable pile of boxes full of pending work that will build up.

I have never been much of a numbers man, but I know it would be best to be financially prepared for at least a full twelve months.  I have been told most new business owners typically have $40,000.00 stashed away when beginning.  I have also found most new businesses deal with selling products, be they altogether new or ideologically new.

My business is based on services rendered, so I will not incur any immediate starting order expense.  My immediate expenditures are also immediately functional as a self-operating space and a client-requisitioned point of contact and service.  I believe my immediate starting financial need to be $20,000.00.  That will cover all aforementioned financial needs including parking (sadly, parking is not validated).  I intend to invest in my work space for a full twelve months in advance rather than go month-to-month.  Month-to-month is too unstable.

I am not entirely sure how best to impart unto you my gratitude and appreciation for your support in mere words, but perhaps I can illustrate my end-all goal.  Years from now, I hope to really have my own building, or a club-worthy, layout-serving space.  It shall be more than a quiet back room or side building.  It will be an epicentre for model railroading.  Be they novices, veterans, or simply bored and enticed by the whistle of a little tank engine as they pass by the front door, all will be welcome to share in this hobby of joy.

I suppose that is my gift to world as best I can muster.

My dearest supporters and financiers, I thank you with all my heart and devotion for your support in my endeavor to breath life back into the weary and worn haulers of joy.

"Bear unto me ye worn and weary, battered and broken; that I may breathe new life into those old childhood dreams of the future, for they may yet sail unbridled about us, today."


Michael Livingston
Dallas, TX

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