SA Astro: MaxKeys Postmortem

While SA Astro is still moving forward, we have made it known that the decision was made to move forward with a new manufacturer, after issues came to light with MaxKeys. We wanted to offer everyone a recap on what happened, since this has caused quite a setback in our timeline for SA Astro.

Effectively, we approached MaxKeys with the set. Initially they set some rules about what they can make – effectively limiting us to a profile not unlike the standard GMK set. No ISO support, no ergodox, no ortholinear, and pretty limited support for nonstandard layouts beyond those. Considering the prices they were offering, we decided to move forward even with that limitation.

They did initially agree that they could make our novelty keys. They gave us a price for them, and we agreed to that price. Again, this was a situation that worked out when we ran the math. Even with the high cost of the novelties that they quoted, when added up with the low cost kits, this still broke out to sets that would cost our buyers significantly less than a Signature Plastics produced set with the same novelty keys. Things were rolling along.

Not smoothly rolling though. There were a number of issues in our novelty designs that need working out. This was the first crack in the relationship really. We would provide the files for the novelties, they would review them, tell us they had problems, and then ask for revisions. The problem was, they provided no details to the problems. They were very vague and di not provide written or visual representation of the issues.

This caused a number of weeks to go buy where Tony effectively had to revise or rebuild every novelty based on guesses. Ivan had to translate their statements and provide translated responses. This back and forth repeated, all in all, for roughly six weeks.

After six weeks, we were nearing a solution. MaxKeys had accepted all but a few novelties at this point as producible. They gave us some visual clues about the problem areas on the remaining novelties. We fixed them. MaxKeys replied at this point with a shocking change of position – they no longer felt confident in their novelty production, and were declining to make the novelty keys altogether. This included already approved novelty keys, even designs that were approved without any revision way back at the beginning of the process. All novelties were off the table. And they elaborated further… all novelties. They meant for everyone.

To MaxKeys credit, they elaborated that they were having issues with their novelty creation and had to put it on hold with everyone.  The issue of course, was this news came almost two months too late in the process, and had set us back effectively two months or more.

We have moved on from this set back, and have begun the process of developing the kit with a new manufacturer and are currently working towards initial samples with them. So while SA Astro has had its setbacks, it’s still very much alive, and very much moving forward.

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