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Old 09-09-2006, 10:49 AM   #1
Unabomber
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OMGHi2U Unabomber's Vendor Interview: Turn in Concepts

The genesis behind this post is to further personalize the Vendor/NASIOC user experience. Like many NASIOC users, there are very few places to buy parts locally and I've supported my modification habit through the many, wonderful NASIOC Vendors. I hope that this post will enlighten NASIOC users to parts, manufacturers, and Vendors.

Turn in Concepts is owned and operated by Clint & Tony:

Can you give us some background information about yourself?

Clint answers:

Age: What year is this? If it’s still 2006 then I’m 32. My birthday is April 17th, 1974. Remember that so you can send me presents. I like presents.

Married: Yes

Kids: Yes, one. He’s almost 18 months old, and already has his own wrench.

Sex: No. I have a small kid, and a company I’m constantly working on. There just isn’t time, and it doesn’t work in my favor when I don’t get to bed until 1 or 2 am.

School: I attended Miami University (the one in Ohio)

Work: Like 97.99% of the Scooby owners out there I’m an IT geek by trade. When I left Miami I got started doing marketing for IBM PC servers to area resellers, after 6 months I was offered a position at one of the consulting firms that was a client. I’ve been doing IT consulting in one fashion or another ever since. That is until we started TiC. Now during the day I am mild mannered IT consultant Clint, but at night I am the dark knight of Scooby parts. Shipping bushings and stiffening shifters until the wee hours of the morning; battling driveline slop, and poor handling for the masses – I am TiC MAN!!! (cape not included)

Hobbies: Well, before TiC I was getting more and more into woodworking in my spare time. I’m too cheap to spend lots of money on crappy furniture, and it was something that always interested me so I decided to make uncrappy furniture for reduced cost. That way I only had one person to blame if the quality was poor. Plus I got to buy some really cool tools. That’s kind of died as I have no time to work on it though. Once we start doing TiC full time I’ll get back into it as my escape.

Random background: I was born in Albuquerque, NM, and didn’t live anywhere else until my move to Ohio at the age of 18. My move to Ohio was prompted by going to Miami. I started out as a double major in chemistry and latin with wide-eyed aspirations to go to law school, and specialize in intellectual property law. It’s funny how things work out.

I have one younger brother. He’s a field service manager over at Electronic Theater Control in Madison, WI. He gets to play with some cool stuff, and gets to see behind the curtain at all sorts of cool events. My mom is still around, and still lives in Albuquerque. I get back there every so often (and would like to meet up with the SWIC crew when I’m down there), but not as often as I’d like.


Clint

Tony answers:

Hi, my name is Tony <crowd>hi tony</crowd> and I’m a car addict; at least that’s what my family tells me. I am 27 years old, born in Toledo, OH in 1979 on a wonderfully HOT august morning. Ever since I have been into all aspects of cars. My mom used to have modified muscle cars back in the 60’s and 70’s and always had some kind of sports car as I was growing up. Once I got my license, the car modifying began. I started in car stereos and electronics, but quickly moved to performance and racing when I bought my 96 Mustang GT. Had that car for 3 months before I flipping it racing and since have been into more if the import scene. I have owned Honda’s (Preludes only), DSM’s (had a 400 whp Talon) and Subaru’s since.

I have a BBA from the University of Toledo majoring in Operations Management and Information Systems with a minor in Sales. I am currently going to Xavier University working towards my MBA, of which I have three classes left.

I have a girlfriend, Kelly, whom I have been with for almost five years. We may never get married, but that won’t keep people from asking when we are going to. She keeps me going down the right path and is one of the reasons I have come this far in life.

Work sucks, as most people will agree. I have worked at many different jobs throughout my time. Most notable were UPS where I was a sort supervisor, Best Buy where I worked in the computer department, and Fifth Third Bank where I managed a technical support help desk. But I have known for some time that what I really want to do is work with cars in any and all aspects.

One of my favorite hobbies is racing in most forms. I have autoxed for a couple years and was SM champion for 2005 in a Dayton, OH region.
Funny story: Clint and I met at an autox in Cincinnati in 2003.
I kept commenting to my girlfriend about how the guy in the STI needed to beat on the thing more and go faster. I got my worker assignment and went to the corner. There I see this goofy looking giant of a guy (I am not small either at 6’3” 200 lbs) who introduces himself as Clint. We were talking about our runs where I said something to the effect of “that guy in the STI really needs to go faster.” I then ask him what he is driving…he said the blue STI. Since that day I have been on his case for needing to drive faster!!!!
I have done my share of drag racing in the past, but mostly with my Talon. I do some now with the Subaru to have fun. My true passion comes from road racing. I love the feeling of getting out there and going as fast as I can.


Tony

What parts do you manufacture?

Well, we make a few now, which is really cool given where we started. Here’s a quick list:
• 04/05 STi shift linkage bushings
• 06 STi shift linkage bushings
• 06+ Subaru 5MT shift linkage bushings (they fit the 05+ LGT too)
• 1997+ 5MT shift lever pivot bushings
• 2004+ STi 6MT shift lever Pivot Bushings
• 2002+ Impreza rear diff mount bushings
• Impreza giuyngmyo fender cowl braces

We know that doesn’t really seem like a lot, and that’s true. In fact, we have very few orders where folks get JUST our stuff. Instead, where we really shine is by taking our parts and combining them with other folk’s goodies to make some really cool bundles that address the stock shortcomings as a whole system. For example, let’s say you want to address the slop in the shifter. We have all sorts of bundles that include our shifter bushings with Tom @ Kartboy’s shifter stuff to make some really nice packages. This lets Scoobie owners get everything they would need from one source, and allows them to address a whole bunch of issues in one install.


Parts shelves

Where do you get parts ideas?

Quite a few of our ideas come from not being happy about how something performs or how it feels. Some of the ideas come from looking at what other performance companies have been doing in the past to address similar issues that they have seen on other makes. Last, we get occasional ideas straight from the forums.

Our fender cowl braces are a good example of this last one. There was a thread discussing these things going on for months. There was a common theme through this thread that was basically “these look easy, I’m gonna make some.” Well, very few people did, and those that did had no intention of making them in quantities they could offer to the community. After watching all of this we got sick of the “I’m gonna make some too” attitude with no follow through. We called up Subie Gal who found the stock part numbers after much searching, and sent us a set of the stock ones. We took some measurements, kicked around some ideas, and had some prototypes made. We were so amazed at how well they worked that we decided we just had to start making them in decent quantities.

Overall though, I’d say we’re they type of people that are naturally curious. You know, the type that says “what’s that do, how does it work, can I take it apart?” Then we take it a step further – the “how can I make it better?” Of course, we also get to do the really fun part – the “how can I break it?” (That’s Tony’s role, he’s good at breaking stuff, especially himself. In fact, we call the first aid kit the Tony kit for a good reason.)


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Old 09-09-2006, 10:50 AM   #2
Unabomber
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If Bob in Kansas has an idea for a part, are you willing to work with him to make it come to light?

It depends on the part, what it does, and how well it’s been thought out. First off, our focus is on performance and feel. We’re really not into show parts, and don’t plan to be. Second, it’s got to be something that’s realistic from four standpoints:
1) Technologically feasible for us to develop or manufacture.
a. Sure an indestructible, variable combustion chamber, ceramic, ultra-lightweight cylinder block would be cool, but are we the right guys to do that? No.
2) There has to be a market for it
a. It does us no good to make a part that would cost thousands to develop, and would only sell three.
3) It has to be reasonably priced for what it is.
a. If it’s going to compete against other products that do the same thing then that has to be taken into account.
b. If it’s something new then it has to make sense for what it does. Common sense rules here.
4) You can return the car to stock.
a. Sure it would be cool to come up with a kit that replaces your entire rear sub frame, but if it requires cutting out the rear strut towers, and welding in new ones in a different place then that’s not us.

Now, getting back to Bob in Kansas. There are two ways we can handle Bob, and it really depends on the situation.

First, we could offer to buy the rights to the part, and we would take care of the manufacturing. This happens if Bob likes the idea, but doesn’t have the time or resources to make them in the quantity and quality we would like to see. How we pay for that really depends on what we work out with Bob. We could just buy it outright or we could do a royalty type of setup.

Second, if Bob in Kansas wants to have total control over the part, can make it in decent quantities with quick turnaround, and is consistently high quality, we can go the route of becoming a vendor or distributor of his part. In fact, we’re always on the lookout for something like this. The ball joint extenders that 6Gun Racing came up with are a good example of this.

What gave you the idea to start TiC?

Oh, that’s easy - the sloppy STi shifter. See our autocross courses out here tend to get us into third gear. We found that with the stock setup we were missing the gate for third and hanging up the stick between gears. This is a bad thing. It screws up your shift, and distracts you, perhaps affecting the rest of your run. We didn’t think that was right.

We tried the Kartboy front shifter stay bushing back when it was the only bushing on the market. We liked how it cleaned up the fore/aft slop, but the lateral slop was still there.

We started looking around in the shifter assembly, and found the problem. So, we took the linkage apart and took some measurements. We did some research, found a company that would sell us various durometers of urethane in small batches, fired up the woodworking tools to make a mold, and went to town.

It took a few tries with the mold, the parts were ugly – amber colored, and full of bubbles - we ended up curing them in the kitchen oven, and the yield from the good mold we made just wasn’t that high, in fact, out of a mold of 12 we’d get 5-6 acceptable parts. After many tries we got a part that worked great.

We realized that they worked so well that we could actually sell them, but nobody was going to buy a very rough, ugly, full of air part. We went looking for a company that makes bushings for a living as we figured they could do a much better job than we ever could. After all, that’s what they do. Finding a company that was willing to work with us on that was difficult. We found that most of the bushing fabrication companies wouldn’t even return our calls or email. If they did bother getting to the point where they would provide us with a quote they would quote it so high that we felt they were trying to get rid of us (we had one shop quote the linkage bushings at over $70 per piece!!). After many frustrating weeks of emails, phone calls and faxes we found a shop that was willing to take the risk on us. I certainly hope that risk has paid well for them.

We ended up having the mold professionally made, and we tried a few different things before we got the combination just right using professional quality results (please note urethane is MUCH stiffer and less forgiving when it’s not filled with air bubbles). Once we had that we started talking them up to anyone who would listen. The big break came when our buddy Jason talked to his friends down in the Jacksonville area. They tried a set, and liked them so much that they asked us for 10 sets. We cut them a deal, and that really helped.

Word slowly started to get around about the linkage bushings, and we started to hear a lot of “hey, you should package these with the Kartboy bushings.” We thought long and hard about it. In fact, we even designed our own front stay bushings thinking that we could make more going that way (sorry Tom), but we realized that when it came to the front stay bushing tons of people were already doing it, but the Kartboy was still the gold standard. So, we emailed Tom @ Kartboy, and he was nice enough to hook us up with an account to carry his stuff. We placed our first order with Tom on the second of February 2005 for as many front stay bushings as we could afford. In fact, that left us $5 cash. If anyone had wanted a refund in that time we would have had to send them a personal check.

Once we had the Kartboy bushings in hand we made our front klicky kit which packaged our bushings with his front stay bushing. It actually sold, and sold pretty well. On February 19th we placed our second order with Tom @ Kartboy for some more front stay bushings along with three of his 6MT levers. Like before we used all our available cash.

We just kept repeating that pattern over and over, and after a while we had enough cash saved up to develop our next part. In fact, that’s the business model we’ve followed ever since – carefully save our pennies, and work on ideas. Once we’ve got enough saved up to develop a new part we’ve been thinking about we get started on it. That’s why it takes us so long to come out with new parts, no loans, just work from cash on hand. The problem with this is we’ve got a ton of what we think are good ideas, but we’ve got to pay for them to make them. Oh, and we still have that problem of working with fabricators. Hopefully, some day we’ll be big enough that when I call or email someone with about an idea they won’t blow us off.


Chewy the shop cat

What is TiC's contact info?

www.turninconcepts.com
7964 Thistlewood Dr.
West Chester, OH 45069

We’ve got our phone numbers on the site, but by far the easiest way to get in touch with us is either via PM or support@turninconcepts.com.


Any future parts or ideas you can let slip?

Well, we always have ideas that we’re constantly working on. The one we can really let slip because folks know we’ve been working on this for a while is the pre-2006 linkage update. See, the pre-2006 5MTs used a linkage that couldn’t easily be taken apart. This means changing the bushings is really a no go unless you want to be really creative. We’re working on a new linkage assembly that would allow folks to run the up to date bushings. Unfortunately, it has been really slow for us to get those out.


What’s it like being a vendor?

It’s kind of interesting. You meet a diverse mix of people from folks who are complete scumbags to folks that are really nice, and care about what they do. Naturally, we prefer to work with the folks who care about what they do.

One thing that we’d like to point out is this is no cakewalk. We thought we’d sell hundreds of our first linkage bushings in a month or so, and we could pocket the profits with minimal work. It’s not at all like that. It’s really a ton of work; much more so than we could ever have predicted. On top of the normal shipping each day there’s the constant support, the research, product evaluation, running numbers for possible parts, balancing the books, keeping up with and answering questions on the forums, watching the competition, predicting what people would like, finding decent fabricators, working with said fabricators, test fitting and evaluation of new parts. There’s so much to do that we could never have predicted how much work would actually be involved.

One thing that we would like to impress upon people – just because there’s “vendor” under the screenname doesn’t mean that we’re rich. We’re no where near rich. We don’t have 5 or 6 fancy tricked out rides sitting out front. We don’t have cars that put down 900hp with the biggest turbo ever seen. We don’t have each model of Impreza from 1997 sitting around. When we get a part it still has to be paid for one way or another. We don’t have manufacturers lining up on our doorstep waiting to hand us freebie parts. It just doesn’t happen. When we develop a part it doesn’t always work like we wanted first time out. Sure, we do our homework, and it gets close, but there’s always rework, retest, and more rework. The life is not glamorous either. We don’t hop in our private jets or our new Ferraris to take off for a weekend on our own private island. Instead we’re up late; answering questions and shipping parts. What we’re trying to impress upon folks is that being a vendor is not a matter of putting up a website, and posting in the for sale threads. It’s actually more work than could be imagined.


What cars do you currently drive?

Tony drives a 2004 WRX, and Clint drives a 2004 STi. Kelly, Tony’s girlfriend, kind of has a 2000 MR-2 Spyder, but it’s really Tony’s toy, and Jackie, Clint’s wife, drives a 2001 H6 Outback. All of these cars are daily drivers which mean that all the parts that we offer are items that can be installed fairly quickly. After all, everyone has to be able to get to work the next day.


What are your future plans for TiC?

We’re not sure yet. We’re going to keep moving along like we have been, maybe speed up time between product releases or new products for us to carry, but we’re not really sure where it will lead. One thing’s for sure though, it’ll be fun finding out.
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Old 09-09-2006, 10:54 AM   #3
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Yay!!

great write up... great vendor!!!

Clint and Tony are the bomb diggity
They are good guys, easy to work with....

Ya know... "real enthusiasts" first, business guys 2nd....
Something that's getting harder n harder to find these days....



Jamie
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Old 09-09-2006, 11:12 AM   #4
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good stuff!! keep it up man
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Old 09-09-2006, 11:35 AM   #5
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great write up about some great guys!
i have exchanged many a PM & email w/ Clint and he has been extremely helpful.
now i must transfer some money from my wallet to his!
thanks for the inside look, Ron.
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Old 09-09-2006, 12:08 PM   #6
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my home office looked just like that till the wifey helped out

she is tsssking right now - "Tell those boys to get organized - how can you work in that mess?"

i'm re-messing it up as fast as I can
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Old 09-09-2006, 12:32 PM   #7
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for all!!!!!

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Old 09-09-2006, 01:07 PM   #8
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YAY for TiC!!
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Old 09-09-2006, 01:16 PM   #9
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I'd say Tony and Clint need a Maid..
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Old 09-09-2006, 01:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by infantsam View Post
my home office looked just like that till the wifey helped out

she is tsssking right now - "Tell those boys to get organized - how can you work in that mess?"

i'm re-messing it up as fast as I can
Quote:
Originally Posted by LowUFO View Post
I'd say Tony and Clint need a Maid..

Ummmm.... yeah. Soon after those pics were taken, and Tony and Kelly saw what a mess the place was they came in on a weekend and cleaned. We now have more shelves, and you can actually see the floor. Maybe I should put up some updated pics.
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Old 09-09-2006, 01:37 PM   #11
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It's amazing the level of service these guys provide, they have some great stuff you just can't get anywhere else, and even if I could, I'd still buy it from them!
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Old 09-09-2006, 01:52 PM   #12
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Thanks Unabomber! Another great interview. Can we put these in an archive somewhere for easy viewing or something?

or is it n00b like usual?
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Old 09-09-2006, 03:06 PM   #13
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Oh, I have an idea for a part that meets all the criteria.

TiC rules!
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Old 09-09-2006, 09:39 PM   #14
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Awesome interview guys!
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Old 09-09-2006, 11:42 PM   #15
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At least you guys could spring for some IKEA plastic containers..


Nice work Una.
Clint and Tony are two of my better distributors. i have not had a single complaint from any of his customers. well that one guy.... but he didnt know how to install that shifter in his Yugo...

Keep up the good work guys!

Tom
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Old 09-10-2006, 01:07 AM   #16
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Great job. Good to know some background, I have never dealt with TiC but would not hessitate to knowing their reputation.

I do have to disagree with this though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clint
Work: Like 97.99% of the Scooby owners out there I’m an IT geek by trade.
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Old 09-10-2006, 01:28 AM   #17
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almost forgot!



Love you long time BIG Ron
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Old 09-10-2006, 11:29 AM   #18
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Old 09-10-2006, 12:15 PM   #19
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^^^^

His Twin!!!
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Old 09-10-2006, 06:36 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom@kartboy View Post
At least you guys could spring for some IKEA plastic containers..


Nice work Una.
Clint and Tony are two of my better distributors. i have not had a single complaint from any of his customers. well that one guy.... but he didnt know how to install that shifter in his Yugo...

Keep up the good work guys!

Tom
Man, if we were the type of pansies that shopped at overpriced, overly trendy Ikea we'd have to trade in our real cars and get something like a four door, automatic, Civic in grandma "I never have to wash it" silver.
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Old 09-10-2006, 08:06 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turn in Concepts View Post
Man, if we were the type of pansies that shopped at overpriced, overly trendy Ikea we'd have to trade in our real cars and get something like a four door, automatic, Civic in grandma "I never have to wash it" silver.
No, a Snaab.

Born from Yets... duh!



... and wtf do you know about washing your car? Last i checked your paint lived up to the name World Rally Blue.
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Old 09-10-2006, 08:42 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LOLSTi View Post
No, a Snaab.

Born from Yets... duh!



... and wtf do you know about washing your car? Last i checked your paint lived up to the name World Rally Blue.
*FEZ* AAhhh BURN! *FEZ*

Sorry Chump the ikea buckets are a buck each oh wait. thats a buck more than you spent on the ones you have. hell those look like the same boxes i use to ship the parts TO you .
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Old 09-10-2006, 09:16 PM   #23
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Oh No it's tony at the dragon! and nhluhr in the background

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Old 09-10-2006, 09:36 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom@kartboy View Post
*FEZ* AAhhh BURN! *FEZ*

Sorry Chump the ikea buckets are a buck each oh wait. thats a buck more than you spent on the ones you have. hell those look like the same boxes i use to ship the parts TO you .
That's because they ARE the boxes you ship parts to us in!
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Old 09-10-2006, 09:37 PM   #25
LOLSTi
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Chapter/Region: MWSOC
Location: Cincinnati
Vehicle:
2004 Subaru WRX STi
1992 Mazda Miata

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Quote:
Originally Posted by nhluhr View Post
Oh No it's tony at the dragon! and nhluhr in the background
I like how I uploaded that, just so you would turn it around and host it yourself.

If we are on the topic of Tony pics:



I think NASIOC needs a :Tony: smiley.
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