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His "Can Plans" Are A Nice Moneymaker
Jim Tessier likes to design and build things from aluminum beverage cans. But he’s not like most hobbyists who build something and then set it on a shelf to admire it. Tessier carefully draws out his designs on paper, writes instructions as he builds the designs from aluminum cans, then sells the completed plans on his website.
  Fourteen years ago, he started by selling a few plane designs. Today he has 69 designs that include planes, cars, monster trucks, farm equipment and construction tools. “In 2010 I made more than $5,000 selling my plans for $8 apiece,” Tessier said. “I’m not out to make a killing so I don’t charge much. My customers think the plans are a good deal, and that’s just fine with me.”
  Tessier got started in the business almost by accident. About 20 years ago he saw a magazine ad for building a plane from an aluminum beverage can and decided to give it a try.
  “The plans I got worked, but there were some parts that didn’t quite fit, and some of the instructions weren’t exactly right. I decided to build one myself to see how it would turn out.”
  It turns out Tessier was very good at can construction. Better yet, he had a knack for documenting everything with drawings and good instructions. “People would buy my plans at craft shows, but I spent a lot of time drawing, documenting, copying and packaging. When the internet took off in 1997, I built my own website and sold them as a pdf file that people could download. Now they use PayPal to order and the whole business is a lot easier to run.”
  Tessier’s plans explain in detail the tools and equipment needed, the materials to use, and step-by-step instructions. He’s careful to point out that readable copy on a can needs to be cut a certain way. “Every plan I sell I’ve designed myself and built 3 or 4 of the items with my instructions to make sure they’re right,” Tessier says. “That’s my method of quality control.” Most items are built to scale from pictures or literature.
  While Tessier’s marketing on the internet is definitely new age, his designs and plans are done old school. “I do all my drawings by hand and build the designs with old-fashioned tools like aviation snips, steel rulers, x-acto knives and quick grip cement. The CAD and 3-D plans from computers are too complicated,” he adds.
  His simpler plans for cars and planes may have 3 or 4 pages of instructions, but Tessier just completed a super modified race car whose plans and instructions cover 48 pages. “A lady called and wanted me to build 4 of them for her. Turns out her company is in the aluminum business and sponsors racing. She had one of them mounted on a huge trophy.”
   Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Jim Tessier, Tesscar Aluminum Craft, 57101 Evergreen Lane, Warren, Ore. 97053 (ph 503 397-2274; tesscaraluminumcraft@msn.com; www.tesscar-aluminum-craft.com).

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2011 - Volume #35, Issue #6