Fiberglass mold and low volume contract manufacturing

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by RainDog, Oct 14, 2008.

  1. RainDog
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 3
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: WI USA

    RainDog New Member

    Hi all, new here. Very cool forum.

    A few of my friends and I are investigating manufacturing a line of small fiberglass (16'-20') inboard runabouts/utilities.

    To start, we would like to contract a company to produce molds for the hull, topdeck and various interior parts. Subsequently, we'd like to have the first run (25/year) of hulls (with stringers installed) and other parts produced. We'd do the rest of the assembly of the craft.

    We are looking for a reputable outfit with impressive quality, based in the USA, preferably in the northern midwest or central eastern coast.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks for the consideration.
  2. Dane Allen
    Joined: Jul 2008
    Posts: 13
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: So Cal

    Dane Allen Junior Member

    Are you saying that the contract is for a complete fiberglassed hull and you will install engines and complete any interior structure, furnishings and electrical?
  3. Eric Sponberg
    Joined: Dec 2001
    Posts: 2,010
    Likes: 215, Points: 73, Legacy Rep: 2917
    Location: On board Corroboree

    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    First bit of advice: Do the numbers--i.e. cost numbers again and again until you are sure that your venture will be profitable, maybe not at first, but eventually. Listen to the old saw that says "The easiest way to make a small fortune in boatbuilding is to start with a large fortune." Start small and work your way up slowly.

    That said, you can talk to the following companies about doing your tooling and a small production run.

    Marine Concepts, Cape Coral, FL:

    Vectorworks Marine, Titusville, FL:

    These people are in the very business you are inquiring of.

    You will need a design, if you don't already have one, preferably done by a professional, so that you are assured of structural integrity, stability, and performance.

    I hope that helps.

  4. RainDog
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 3
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: WI USA

    RainDog New Member

    Yes, Dane. That is exactly what we envision.

    We would like a complete hull with all structural members installed (provided by contract or supplied by us), topdeck, engine cover and misc small fiberglass parts. We would then install the drive train, interior trim, deck hardware, windshield, electrical system, steering, etc.

    We would supply plugs for the molds.
  5. RainDog
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 3
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: WI USA

    RainDog New Member

    My partners and I all own our own businesses, so while not in the boat building industry, we have a good amount of experience under our ever expanding belts.

    But, good advice and we will keep this in mind. We have modest goals and a pretty conservative plan. This is why we want to farm out the one area where we are least experienced - fiberglass fabrication. The rest of the fabrication and assembly can be done without a large investment in infrastructure.

    Thanks for the links. I'll follow up with them.
  6. mobjack68
    Joined: Jul 2006
    Posts: 25
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Western East Virginia

    mobjack68 Junior Member

    Hey guys, I have been employed in the 'glass business and from need to lay up your own hulls. Maybe not at first, just to get started..
    there are some things that you really need to consider. Quality control being one, weight being another. Strength to weight ratio is huge in FRP. Worked for a guy that was a genius w/moldmaking. He could think "inside out" with respect to modeling and molding. Most all the molds we built had matching parts, as in close tolerance fit where one part fit into another, I never saw a mold that he worked on that had a tolerance problem. I have repaired boats where mating/matching parts should never have been assembled without a lot of handwork, they were assembled anyway. From a production standpoint, and with smaller boats, volume is the big key. What will transportation costs do to your bottom line when you start trucking in sub assemblies???
    Best of luck and remember, QC problems can be corrected much faster the closer you are to the production line....

  7. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 1,913
    Likes: 73, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 739
    Location: New Orleans

    Stumble Senior Member

    I am a bit concerned about your basic business plan. What you are describing is really a commissioning service for new boats, not building your own. While this may be profitable it seems to me that being available to commission any boat a buyer wants would be a better idea. Otherwise I don't see what you add to the value of the finished product. Unless you have some new design, or are doing something different with the hull you are providing the molds for.

    My advice would be to look into doing something like Shelby does with mustanges, and try to get a reputation for doing something special with an already proven hull form. Otherwise I just don't see where the business goes. Now if you are trying to learn the process to lay your own hulls and see this as an interum step then it might make sence, but by outsourcing the fabrication of the majority of the boat you also outsource the potential profit margin.

    Not to wright a tretis, but you may want to go grab a book on business strategy, particularly on identifying your own stengths.

    That being said I would agree with the others. Letting someone else manufacture the hull removes yourself from being able to oversee quality control. Meaning you are banking your reputation on someone elses work.
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.