Starting a boat building buissness; I am a different case

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by jakehardgrave, Oct 26, 2011.

  1. jakehardgrave
    Joined: Oct 2011
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Gulf Coast

    jakehardgrave Junior Member

    Hey guys I need some advice. Heres where I stand, I am a lifelong fisherman and competitive sailor, have worked sales at a dealership, and have worked as a marine technician for several years at one of the largest boat dealerships in the U.S. I am very experienced in boat building, I have built several competitive sailing dingies (sorry I cant spell that) and several powerboats, most by my own design. I have extensive knoledge of Autodesk CAD software and hand drafting.
    My family has always been engineers, and I have been convinced to fit the mold, so I am at Texas Tech right now studying Mechanical Engineering. The farther I go into this subject, the more I realize that its not my dream.

    Now I know about the slim pickings in the buisness, Ive done plenty of research, But I feel I may have an edge. I have the opurtunity right now to switch to a buisness, finance, or other related major. Im also on the Gulf Coast, a market not saturated with builders. I also believe I have some extremley unique and marketable ideas. Do yall think with this combination, I may have a fighting chance?
     
  2. michael pierzga
    Joined: Dec 2008
    Posts: 4,862
    Likes: 114, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 1180
    Location: spain

    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Sure...but you need a marketable product. What would this product be ? The boat would have to be small enough to afford yet big enough that you could make money by adding value. Perhaps you could come up with a unique design, purpose built to fill a need in your local market

    The small time boatbuilders I know build very few boats and support themslves with other marine industry employment.
     
  3. rxcomposite
    Joined: Jan 2005
    Posts: 1,954
    Likes: 153, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1110
    Location: Philippines

    rxcomposite Senior Member

    It seems small boats has a niche in the gulf coast. Little to moderate profit but okey. But if you are thinking of yachts, forget it. You need tons of money and big boatbuilders are struggling or have closed shops.
     
  4. jakehardgrave
    Joined: Oct 2011
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Gulf Coast

    jakehardgrave Junior Member

    wellthis is what I had in mind. Everyone wants a cheap boat, crap like bayliners and blue waves sell like crazy all year round. So you dont want to try to build a grady white. And as I grew up watching my dad buy boats, he would struggle with comprimises on fishbox size, console placement, seat location, etc. There was just not a boat that had everything that was in his mind. Now obviously a custom boat would be an expensive one off creation so marketability would be limited.

    But what If you had this, start with say two molds, an 18' and a similar 21'. Begin producing these boats but make the last step stringer and bulkhead placement. I know this is hard to follow, but now put it on display with temporary basic plywood decks layed in (not glassed, just sitting there).

    Now also preproduce a versitile console, several seating options, fishboxes, livewells, all simple fiberglass creations. When the customer steps on the half finished hull, he can use cardboard mock ups to "design his custom boat" by positioning elements where he likes them. Now granted, he will need consoltance on wieght and balance, but the possibilities are endless.

    Once hes placed it all out, in about a day or twos work you can lay the deck and fillet and glass in all of the structures. No custom design work on your part, so time, which is money, goes down to normal production levels, but the customer thinks hes getting a totaly custom boat.

    It seems I could produce a competivley priced boat that has something noone else has. This is what makes me think I could make a buck. Im not trying to get rich, but this concept could set me apart and create customer flow
     
  5. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member

    Sounds like a plan. Get out there and get to know (find) your customers. All you need is one to get the ball rolling. The business will evolve from there. You know boats, it's your customer you need to get to know.

    -Tom
     
  6. michael pierzga
    Joined: Dec 2008
    Posts: 4,862
    Likes: 114, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 1180
    Location: spain

    michael pierzga Senior Member

    What you say is correct. Im in a marina with more than one hundred poorly designed boats. The hull forms are professional, but simple things like ergonomics and usability are lacking.

    Perhaps you could use the " platform" concept with small craft. On the big boats this is common. Custom built to client specs , on a well proven stock hull powerplant platform.

    But once again... the market ? you will need educated clients who are willing to pay a premium for a boat that better suits their needs. I believe that 99 percent of boat buyers are ignorant.
     
  7. jakehardgrave
    Joined: Oct 2011
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Gulf Coast

    jakehardgrave Junior Member

    I agree. I am hoping that by doing all major design work initialy, and almost having it work like a buffet, I can minimize additional costs concerned with custom construction.

    And as far as ignorant buyers, I agree, I have seen the worst of the worst. I believe this is where having the mock up structures and allowing hands on brainstorming comes into play. Your average boat buyer in this price range does not want to sit in front of sketches and dimensions.

    I think that if I can keep a competitve price with the other options available in the size range, and just allow customers to come and tinker with their dream boat, their ignorance and impulse buying will work in my favor.
     
  8. Frog4
    Joined: Oct 2011
    Posts: 150
    Likes: 2, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 12
    Location: Arizona desert

    Frog4 Proletariat

    Boat Builders Layoff

    just a little reality check ... it will not last forever ...

    make sure you have plenty of working capital ...

    and a DUAL major is worth every penny ...
    your R.O.I. will be a HUGE advantage over others without it ...
     
  9. rxcomposite
    Joined: Jan 2005
    Posts: 1,954
    Likes: 153, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1110
    Location: Philippines

    rxcomposite Senior Member

    That is a good plan Jake. Not all customers will appreciate cad drawings. They like to move around, see things. They tend to visualize things, not yours. Then they get the feeling that the boat is "customized". Built to their liking.

    As Tom said, you need only one customer. One happy customer and the word gets around.
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. jakehardgrave
    Joined: Oct 2011
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Gulf Coast

    jakehardgrave Junior Member

    How does a dual major have a direct corolation to return on investment?
     
  11. jakehardgrave
    Joined: Oct 2011
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Gulf Coast

    jakehardgrave Junior Member

    Something else to consider, it will be at least four years until the plan would be in action. That plenty of time for a Republican president haha.
     
  12. michael pierzga
    Joined: Dec 2008
    Posts: 4,862
    Likes: 114, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 1180
    Location: spain

    michael pierzga Senior Member

    And to have any success you have to get salesmen...yacht brokers...on your side.
     
  13. Frog4
    Joined: Oct 2011
    Posts: 150
    Likes: 2, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 12
    Location: Arizona desert

    Frog4 Proletariat

    your "investment" in your education ...

    dual majors offer a "plan B" ...

    the business/finance major coupled with your engineering background are tools to further your success ...

    top 7 reasons why businesses fail:

    2. Poor Management
    3. Insufficient Capital
     
  14. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 1,896
    Likes: 71, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 739
    Location: New Orleans

    Stumble Senior Member

    Jake,

    If you are interested in boat building there are hundreds of operational builders on the Gulf Coast. Just in New Orleans we have people building everything from large commercial and military vessels down to 6 person SCUBA diving rigs. I think what you have as an idea is doable, but I am not so sure it is that different that many existing commercial builders, at least in the fishing boat industry. My last boat came with all sorts of custom, and semi-custom work out of the shop.

    To me you have your priorities a little wrong.

    First you need a hull that acomplishes some usage profile (offshore, inshore, a hybrid)
    Then identify what people will use it for (fishing, charters, skiing, hanging out on)
    Identify build quality and price point (low end, high end, and budget considerations)
    Only then does your furniture issue apply.

    Basically I think you have an interesting idea that could be applied to a lot of different types of boats, but you have to marry it to a package that is otherwise desirable.



    Finally on a non-boat building note. Be very carefull about making political or religious jokes in the business arena. you will instantly offend at least half of the population of this country no matter which way the joke is told, and while there are a lot of business owners out there that own boats, there are also a lot of trial attorneys that also like to be out on the water.
     
    1 person likes this.

  15. pjssailor
    Joined: Jan 2011
    Posts: 13
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Pensacola, Florida

    pjssailor Junior Member

    Having been in a tough competitive business and being sucessfull (At least enough to keep me and my lady happy) i will tell you what I learned. First, do some right now -part time. Going to school - that won't interfer. I worked darn near full time all the way through college and learned a lot about my business while I was in school. Be flexible. Start out making a product that you love/like/ will use. Use it, hang your shingle out and be willing to do what will sell. Do not do work you do not know well but try not to turn down work.(BE very carfull estimating repairs/restoration)s. Find out who to send people to that do things you are not to sure about. If you start getting too busy regularly, raise you prices a little. If you are not busy enough run some specials. You are better off turning out product at $10 an hour than sitting still at $100 an hour. You will underestimate a bit, but you will learn. Be carefull on your material estimates because you really have to live with your estimates. Remember one pissed off customer will cost you far more in future work than a dozen of happy ones will bring you.

    I could go on. But the real test of your idea is right out there with a boat to be built right now. Not talking but working. Do it. Good luck, have fun, enjoy the people you meet.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2011
Loading...
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.