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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ebonite

I mentioned several days ago that I had a question-and-answer session to post about ebonite rod, and here it is. It's been a bit delayed due to our recent visitor from the states, and a mini-vacation, but I'm now trying to sort out days of email and bring everything up to date.

The company in question is SEM, or Schönberger Ebonite Manufaktur, a German business dealing in a variety of ebonite products including some very high quality ebonite rods for pipemakers. They recently approached me regarding business, and were kind enough to answer some questions about their business and their products, for anyone who may be interested. I've edited the reply a bit to fix a bit of the anglais here and there.

Me: Tell me a little about your company, and how you began to market your ebonite to pipemakers.

SEM: We are a very young company, founded in May 2006. My partners worked for New Yorker Gummiwaren in Hamburg for a long time. This is one of the last companies, which produce ebonite products. My partners had a lot of ideas to optimize the production and the products, but nobody listened to them. So they had the idea to produce by
themselves. To produce ebonite you need very much money for the machines and the materials. They developed a business-plan and tried to get money from the bank. You can imagine what the banks did....young people, without any experience in business, without their own money, with a product, which a banker doesn't understand. They got to know me, I`m an effective business woman. I gave them the money and they started. It took until December 2006 that we were able to produce the first ebonite dust.

Me: We hear often about the quality differences in ebonite from maker to maker. Can you tell me a little about just what IS "quality" in ebonite, and what is the difference between a high quality and low quality ebonite rod?

SEM: We produce three kinds of dust. To produce the rods you need a very best quality, the finest dust. It is a little business secret, how we get this finest quality :-) . We are able to
produce the best quality, without bubbles, free of pores and blowholes, without smell, and best to polish. For the smoker it means the mouthpiece is more beautiful and without smell or taste. In contrast to acrylic, it is natural and warm in the mouth and it is a softer feeling....

Me: What is your minimum order for ebonite?

SEM: We don`t have a minimum order, but very small orders a little more
expensive, because of the time for administration. (Editor's note - I hope they don't come to regret this. Being snowed under with orders for one or two rods can be hell on a small company. Buyers please keep this in mind! Personally, if a bunch of hobbyists want rod, the best thing you can do is just to get together and assemble one large group order from a bunch of smaller orders anyway, for better pricing)

Me: Have you ever created special colors, or ebonite mixtures, for limited production? Is it even possible? The only colors we seem to see in ebonite are black and cumberland. Is it difficult to make ebonite in other colors, or is it simply because the market only wants these two "popular" colors?

SEM: Sure we are able to produce special colours, we just offer a special colour only for faber
castell and Mont Blanc... They make ebonite pens. Ebonite is very traditional, to develop new colours you need money and love for the product. And we love it. .... the market is crying for our colours , we have a great resonance. But we really need all the help we can get. Please, post our
E- Mail in the blog ! I love to send samples to the pipe makers! :-) You can imagine, what a funny picture, when I am standing at the table, creating these sample packages on Sunday.

And that's the story of a new supplier of high-end ebonite! While they are quite experienced in the craft, they're fairly new to running their own business and need all the sales they can get, so I hope maybe this little posting will help them a bit, to get the word out that they have quality goods to sell. I've certainly been impressed with my samples. Anyone interested in contacting SEM can reach them at:

Schönberger Ebonite Manufaktur GmbH
Am Elbufer 4
D-29456 Hitzacker Elbe Ot Tießau
Telefon +49(0)5862 9411103 Telefax +49 (0) 5862 9411107
www.SEM-Hitzacker.de
simone.materlik@sem-hitzacker.de