Where Do I Start?

December 2, 2020 – I’m not going to lie, this blog post is going to be about what I personally have experienced this year.  The Year of 2020 has without a doubt been the most trying year most have ever seen in their lifetime.  From living daily life to working (or not), to remote schooling, shutdowns, losses including deaths, and more.  Of course there are millions of people who have suffered much worse than most of us have experienced in 2020 on an individual basis, but as a whole our society and the world we live in has been turned upside down.  For me personally, the year started out as strong and bright as ever.  Going into the New Year I had decided to take on a new diet and work out harder than ever and better myself and going into March, that’s exactly what I did.  Tammi and had a great trip to Salt Lake City to meet with Silhouette America, Cricut, and Teresa Collins and several days later took our vacation we had planned to Antigua.  About a week after returning the wheels began to fall off.  That’s when the first concerns of COVID-19 were surfacing.  Two weeks later our business was ordered to close.

While closed we held multiple management meetings and took care of a lot of planning for the coming months–it was really about the only thing we could do with very limited staff.  During the time we were closed we paid employees 100% pay and benefits for four and a half weeks.  We were permitted to reopen under CISA guideline clarifications a couple weeks early but that also came with difficulty.  Without going into the details of those difficulties and challenges to be compliant, the months of May and June were brutal.  In addition to working through the transition of dropping a vendor we had record sales for those two months in addition to thousands of orders that came in during the closure.  We had always prided ourselves on 24-hour shipping but had to tell our customers it would be much longer until we could catch up.  At one point we had approximately 10 days worth of orders backlogged to ship while record sales were still coming in.  It took exactly 60 days for us to return to 24-hour shipping.

Our warehouse expansion was put on hold for four months during this time and the change started in early August.  I had to pull back from marketing and other aspects to head up that challenge and after several weeks, it finally had taken shape.  We were rapidly moving into the shopping season and due to some higher level issues, I decided to tender my resignation as CEO of 143VINYL™ on November 24, 2020, effective immediately.  The timing of my resignation was hard on the employees with Black Friday coming but unfortunately other factors dictated that timing.  There are more than 100 employees there that I love dearly and I would never discourage a customer from purchasing from them.  My departure was not a reflection on the employees whatsoever.  The day I posted my resignation publicly was a difficult day.  I cried on my wife’s shoulder during the hour it took me to press that button because I knew (a) it was like jumping off a bridge with no turning back and (b) the timing while uncontrollable, made everything difficult on everyone.

What am I doing now?  While I enjoy the holidays with my family and wait to see what the future holds, I’m working on this site, TroyGram.  I’ve turned what was initially a simple site to create monograms for crafters and turned it into a social networking community for crafters.  I do not know where this will lead, if anywhere, but I know many people would love to have a community outside of mainstream social media to get together online. I do know that I will end up where I’m meant to be.  That is for certain.

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    1. I just joined a fb page and your name was everywhere, with everyone commenting on how amazing you are, so here I am. I wish you the best of luck and can’t wait to see what you are doing. I am a person who is all about customer service and so I appreciate how much you care about your customers.

  1. All things happen for a reason and as much as we hate that you aren’t there, I do know I am thankful to keep in touch with you one way or another and will look forward to seeing where God takes you!  You can never out give God and you have been such a giving person, HE will bless you in return! Keep your chin up! Enjoy your family time!

  2. You and Tammy are amazing people. I had the pleasure of meeting you guys at one of your workshops. I admire your deciation to the crafting community. I know you are destined for great things and can’t wait to cheer you on in your future endeavors!

  3. Troy and Tammi
    I’m sure your decision to leave 143 Vinyl was a very difficult one knowing the love you have for all the employees (and customers). I pray that this new venture on TroyGram is successful for you and I’m happy to be a part of it. As I always say, when God closes one door he opens another. Sometimes he has a plan that we cannot foresee and he kinda closes the door so His plan can take fruition. Many blessings as you move through a “new door”.

  4. Wishing you the best of luck! You’ve created something great here and I look forward to using it to better my crafting and make connections along the way. We all have your back no matter what path you choose to take. thank you for creating this platform.

  5. Troy from the moment we all started with the Cricut explore, you were always there to answer questions, explain what we doing wrong and also put videos together to show us what we needed to do! You did all of that and didn’t ask for anything in return. I thank you for that.

  6. This makes my heart smile knowing you’re doing what’s best for you and your family. This month, marks 3 years I’ve been acquainted with you. All because I have a dream to live at the coast once my children graduate school. I was researching vinyl. And on FB, pops up a vinyl add from 651vinyl. Well I clicked the link. And there I learned about vinyl, about crafts, friendly helpers, you and your generosity, about kindness and wanting to help out others, just like where I first began.
    Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Your loving ways are shining bright💜

  7. Normally, I just make my own SVG’s. I didn’t want to pay someone when I could spend the time to make it. Because of YOU and only YOU, I purchased several bundles from design bundles. Never have I bought svgs before. I did because I wantrd to support you. I am a faithful person to the company that is honest and trustworthy. You no longer being with 143 Vinyl makes me not want to buy my vinyl there. I did try another place for vinyl but it sucked and I hated it. What are other options to buy vinyl at such great prices you had?? Glad I still get to follow you to see where your new adventure takes you.

    1. At this point I could not discourage continuing to purchase from 143VINYL. There’s over 100 employees there that I love dearly who still depend on the company for pay and benefits. As far as I know, currently the same people who took care of customer service, shipping, etc, are still there and it’s the same quality products I left behind. Whether things change over time remains to be seen and customers will have to use their own judgement if that time comes.

  8. I always felt so comfortable knowing that if I had issues, you were there to help. I’m not sure I want to work with 143 vinyl now. It was because of you that we all donated for the lunches. It was because of you that I made the big purchase of my heat press. There is so much “because of you”. Best of luck with the next chapter. I’m excited to be part of that. We know you’ll include us all. Thank You!

  9. As they say, one door closes for another to open. Glad you started this and can’t wait to see what is next. Your supporters are following. Good luck and God bless.

  10. Best wishes for a wonderful future. I always felt that you were the reason the company was so successful…you instilled great work ethics & customer service that ranks above all others. Thanks for all you did & will continue to do. Hopefully you’ll end up with your own vinyl crafting company. I’m sure that many of your former employees would love to join you.

  11. I’m late to the party, as usual, just now reading your blog post. Personally, Troy, although I know you built a wonderful company, I think you’re meant more to be a teacher to the masses of us crafty folks. I have missed your blog videos. You taught me Inkscape, how to use my Cricut, and what all I could do with it, concerning vinyl. I hope you can get back to teaching and videoing. I really appreciate you for giving us an area, away from the regular social media, to visit with others. I’m waiting, with baited breath, to see what comes next!

  12. Best of luck to whatever your future has in store. You have done so many wonderful things and helped so many people and thank you for your generosity!

  13. I am glad that we didn’t lose you, Troy. You have many dedicated supporters, and I am one of them. Onward and upward my friend! Good things are on the horizon. God bless you and your family.

  14. Troy -Thank you for always keeping things real. Your ethics, your passion and your transparency are truly admirable. You have given so much to the crafting world and those you care about (be it virtual or in person) and I have all the confidence that you’ll continue moving forward with great success….and remember, it’s ok to not be ok……your emotional and physical health needs time to heal and process…..you’ll pick yourself up again when you’re ready and we’ll all be there cheering you on!

  15. I, as was my closest crafting buddies, very sad to learn of you resignation, and yet, excited to be invited to TroyGram!
    I know, where you are, it’s going to be ome something great and amazing!
    Let’s get this “new adventure “started🎊🎉….
    Kylea

  16. Sometimes the hard times like this are really blessings in disguise. You will come through this fine, maybe with a few scars, but you will be okay, because sticking to your principles and choosing what is right for you is being true to yourself. You could never be happy if you compromised that. You are loved and respected by many for being exactly who you are!

  17. I’m so sorry all that happened to you. I always thought it was weird that you were made to close. As you know I work for Joann’s in Lexington and while we were made to close to the public, we were allowed to stay open and do curbside orders and do ship from store so I’m not quite sure how that would be different than what you do? Why is what we do better than what you do? We go out on our floor, pick up the product, put it in a box and ship it out? That’s just so unfair!

    1. This was part of the rub when it came to what many considered unfair and arbitrary rules from the governor’s orders. Joann’s sells supplies that were directly used to make masks and the rub was that those businesses permitted to stay open weren’t just selling those types of things, they were selling everything. I spent days reading all the orders from states around us and Beshear, being a lawyer, wrote his order much differently and it said it was to be broadly construed as any business that is not life sustaining. After days of reviewing things like CISA guidelines I had to make the call that we did not fit those parameters. About 3-4 weeks in the International Sign Association received clarification that anyone who sold materials used in sign making fell under those guidelines so we re-opened about two weeks earlier than similar businesses did. Just as with everything COVID related this year, it’s new territory and many businesses didn’t know what to do and still don’t. I believe if there are more shutdown attempts, it will be a failure and the vast majority of businesses will rebel. It’s just not sustainable.

      1. Oh please…. I was taking as many orders of Spring flowers, yarn, kids crafts, etc as anything… and trust me when I tell you the ONLY reason Joann’s close their doors at all was because some people (ahem) called the states daily and reported them as non life sustaining and unable to keep their employees safe while open. Even after we closed said people had to keep calling, from what I understand, because the employees had to share pens and clipboards with the customers and weren’t given sanitizer, etc. Of course, this was just what I was “told”. In any case, for us to be able to stay open and you to have to close was totally unfair, but it’s too late for all that now. I agree that he closed businesses, but in THAT particular ruling it was a bit (a LOT) ridiculous!

  18. There is no doubt in my mind you will do great things no matter where God leads you. My prayer is you stay in the crafting world in some fashion because I can see it’s a passion of yours and you are such an asset to those of us who want to learn. May your holidays be filled with blessings and joy.

  19. Despite whatever rumors are going around and why people are still asking why you left, you and Tammy should focus on what makes you happy. I know it’s hard leaving behind a company (I was no CEO but management), but I did a few years ago to better myself. You’ve done an amazing job with 143 Vinyl and I will still continue to get my products from them but also very excited to see all the new things coming to TroyGram. Like they say, you have to start somewhere and little things always have the potential for growth so long as you pursue it. ☺️

  20. I am thrilled to be a part of this group. I was fortunate to be able to attend a workshop at your warehouse when you first opened. I have learned so much from your videos! Thank you for all that you do for the crafting community.

  21. I wish you the best of luck. I know you will do good things and you are taking your followers with you. God bless you and your family. Hope you and your family have a safe and happy holiday season.

  22. I am so glad I found you again I was sad when I received your post that you stated you resigned love when you posted quotes and the videos you gave were very informative I can’t wait to see where this new adventure takes you I believe all these post says how much we love and respect you

  23. Thank you for creating this new venue for crafters, vinyl users, etc. I love the different way to learn new ideas, get support from fellow crafters, and more, all NOT within the realms of that other social media platform (beginning with an F and ending in book). I hate scrolling thru posts of friends, advertisements, jokes, and here and there the craft/vinyl things I’m interested in. I think you’ve got a jump on something really awesome and will be a big supporter. The groups you created encompass my general interests and I will spend more time on them after we move. Looking forward to 2021!

  24. Good luck in whatever the future holds and for whatever reason for you to leave 143; just know it must’ve been time for change for you and your family. I have been unemployed since July and found out our daughter was expecting our first grandchild so we sold our house, packed everything we had and moved from Texas to North Carolina to be near them so we could enjoy every moment. I knew even after working at my job for 20 years it was time to move on and enjoy my new grand daughter. You too will find something to take the place of that job and probably will enjoy it more. Be safe

  25. As a casual crafter, I found 143Vinyl site and was hooked. Not only by the product but more importantly by the corporate culture I saw on social media outlets. I look forward to following your continued successes in the future. Best of luck!

  26. In my opinion… YOU were the glue that put sooOoo much bonding into that business… Good luck Troy…

  27. Best of luck with the new chapter in your life. As my SS Teacher says “Gods got this”. He will not leave you behind but comfort you as you make these new steps in your life. We love you and only hope the best for you!
    Kaye
    Knoxville

  28. I stumbled upon your site by accident, way back when you first gave up your “real job” to pursue your passion of helping people. Your love for everyone and desire to be the best you can be is a guiding light for others to find their own path in life. “Keep pounding” Troy (yes I’m from NC), I feel there are greater things for you in the future.

  29. You have to do what makes your heart happy and sometimes that means doing to hardest thing you could imagine but in the end it will all be worth it. Stay strong

  30. May God continue to bless and guide you! I’m excited to see God’s plan for you unfold!

  31. Troy,
    Thank you for your post and transparency. Your words were heartfelt and I know they will help people. Many will feel comfort in knowing life sucked this year for others and they are not alone. I’m a nurse in Ny and this year was emotionally draining. Crafting for me is a hobby that lets me escape for a little. During the height of covid I didn’t really want to do any projects. I was stressed, overwhelmed and scared. Then my husband, a police officer, was ordered to do 12 hour tours until further notice. We have a 5 year old and 3 year old that we were trying to keep safe, keep like normal and homeschool. There was no time. I was saddened to hear about your departure from the company because I always appreciated how you spoke about your work family. They have lost a great asset. I know you will find your way. Good luck. Enjoy this time with your family. Appreciate the little things in life.

    Thank you again

  32. The company and fb group are not the same since you’ve left….but so glad to see you’re doing well and I’m sure whatever endeavors you choose, will be amazing

  33. Just saw that you had left the company. I personally have never purchased but my daughter has. I have been watching your videos for a few years and am amazed at your knowledge. You will do well no matter where you go as it is based on what you believe and your integrity. God bless

  34. I would have quit crafting before I had really got going if t weren’t for you. Your patience and kindness toward me and others as we struggled to learn the Cricut was measurable. I wish you much success in your new endeavors.