Mon, 12 Jun 2000

Miniature of musical instruments fly abroad

By Heru Prasetya

YOGYAKARTA (JP): Thanks to making musical instruments in miniature, a business he began only two years ago, Kadir Ngamino now earns a gross monthly income of Rp 100 million and employs 100 workers.

But if it hadn't been for his decision to marry a girl of this city, Kadir, born 1961 in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, would still be tending his small souvenir kiosk in a corner of Batam industrial estate, where he came to try his luck in 1993.

He married in 1997 in Yogyakarta where he began selling miniature musical instruments like violins, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, bongos, pianos, drum sets and the like. "At first I only sold these things. I did not make them," said Kadir, who has a daughter now.

He added that he used to sell 50 sets of these miniature musical instruments at Rp 12,500 per set in his house in the Pakuningratan area.

His luck changed for the better when a Singaporean buyer approached him. He ordered 1,500 sets of various models.

"He knew my address from my former kiosk in Batam," said Kadir, who admitted that before running the souvenir kiosk, he kept watch over sandals left by devotees at a mosque in Batam and at the same time sold perfume.

About the order from the Singaporean buyer, he said that as soon as he had the order, he went to his supplier to arrange for the merchandise. However, upon learning that the goods would be sold to a Singaporean, the supplier raised the prices.

"This irked me. So I went to the place where the souvenirs were made. It was at this place that I learned how to make the miniature instruments," he said without mentioning the location.

He began by making simple models such as guitars, pianos and violins. After two years now, Kadir can make about 100 different models of musical instruments, including acoustic bass, epiphone, leather drum, double and single bongo, banjo, Spanish guitar and mandolin. Nearly all of these models are made of wood or fiber.

The wood chosen for these miniature models are baros and pine. Sometimes, however, Kadir blends the wood with PVC pipe material or plywood. "It all depends on what the model needs," he said.

There are three places where Kadir finalizes the process of making the miniature models. In Bandung, West Java model components are manually cut from wood or fiber from patterns of the desired models.

Then the components are taken to Magelang or Tasikmalaya for painting. After painting, the models are taken to another place in Bandung for assembling.

Kadir intentionally has different places for the processes of making the models to ensure that he gets good quality. In this way he believes that his workers can really master one process.

"The result is better than if only one person handles the processes from the raw material to the finished model," he added.

All the workers involved in the processes are on his payroll. In a month they can produce at least 10,000 miniatures of various musical instruments.

The workers are paid in accordance with the level of difficulty of their jobs -- the size and the complexity of their assignments. A worker assigned to turn the raw material into rough models will be paid between Rp 3,000 and Rp 5000 per piece. One who paints will get an average of Rp 2,500 per piece and another assembling the pieces will earn Rp 1,500 per piece.

After all the production processes have been completed, the goods are taken to the warehouse in Yogyakarta for packaging. Kadir admits that making a miniature musical instrument is a very complicated job. To make an electric guitar, for example, it takes 15 steps to completion. A similar level of complexity is also found in the process of turning the raw materials into rough models.

The smallest size that Kadir offers is 5 cm; a miniature to be used as a key hanger. A miniature model to be used as a house decoration will be between 15 cm and 20 cm in size. For the time being the biggest size is a 40-cm model of a guitar.

The key hangers are sold for Rp 5,000 apiece while the cost price he sets is only between Rp 1,500 and Rp 2,000 per piece. The 40-cm model of a guitar is sold at Rp 30,000. However, prices also depend on the level of difficulty. It may happen that a large model size is cheaper than a smaller model because the latter is more difficult to make.

"The highest price until now is that for a drum set, namely between Rp 80,000 and Rp 100,000," he said.

Apart from making models of musical instruments, he also makes surfboard models. In cooperation with Klaten craftsmen, he sells the miniature models of Harley Davidsons and those of Bugis cargo boats. Along with craftsmen from Sleman he makes and sells various kinds of wooden jigsaw puzzles in the forms of, among others, balls, temples and cubes.

Specifically with respect to the miniature models of musical instruments, Kadir's products are now found in various places in Indonesia such as Semarang, Jakarta, Bali and Kalimantan. The models also have entered the markets in the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.

Foreign buyers sometimes send sketches for the models they want to order. In this way Kadir can develop his products to comply with the specifications given to him by the buyer. Recently he received an order from Japan for a model accordion. For this he also received a sketch.

To develop his business, Kadir bought a 250 square meter plot of land in Yogyakarta municipality. It is here Kadir plans to build a small-scale production center for his miniature models.

"My only obsession now is to make a miniature model of a musical instrument which can really be played," he said.