20 posts in this topic
Competition is great and will drive new features and maybe competitive pricing. I just dont know if you will make much money out of it right out of the gate until you make a name for yourself. I think Ice Castle has a 80% market share or something like that so it would be a mountain to climb. I would be careful on offering up to build to a customer's wants because that might slow things down. Ice Castle does a good thing about having so many floor plans and then allowing minor changes to each of those. That way they can keep a production line going and not have to do too much custom work.
I think there is still plenty of market share still available but you have to create your own niche. Ice castle has their own share of the market with the starter shack, no way you are going to be able to beat/compete with their prices with real quality - specially with aluminum and without a factory line pumping out quantity vs quality. I would say the rest of the market is split into basically 3 more categories - pre-manufactured, custom, and shells. Most other manufactures are involved in the pre-manufactured category with their own layouts for either winter shacks or winter/summer combo's. There are a few straight up custom manufactures (no aluminum manufacturers that I know of that are 100% custom). Most aluminum manufactures as well do provide the option for shells - some even have the ability to customize the shell for door/window placement.
That being said, I absolutely HATE every pre-manufactured layout on the market. So much wasted space, inefficient seating arrangements, not enough holes, not enough places to sleep, no storage, bad planning for future upgrades, ect. My biggest pet peeve being from SD and being able to use 4 lines per person during winter is the fact that the max amount of holes in any pre-manufactured shack is only 7-8 holes, that's only enough holes for 2 people. For example, I finished off my 8x16' Yetti last year and have four 80" long beds that anyone can easily get into, 10 holes, 2 couches, 50" TV, closet, kitchen, 2x6' long hidden table, I can fish 6 people extremely comfortably, and sleep 5 comfortably. You just can find any manufacture out there even close to that kind of design. If you do pre-manufactured shacks make sure you do something different than what is already out on the market. If you need help designing some new layouts there is plenty of advice here on DIY shacks and feel free to ask me (I'm an engineer too so puzzles like this make my brain tick). Going with pre-manufactured you aren't going to beat anyone else on price - what you need to focus on is structural quality, workmanship, and layout designs/features.
Those who cannot do, pay. Those who don't like the pre-manufactured designs, cant built their own, and have the $$$ will look towards custom builders. Beware though, quality and communication is key. When spending that kind of coin on a custom shack and waiting a couple months, people are very picky on what they will accept. Custom really isn't about building a lot of shacks for cheap, but building a few expensive shacks. For example, Team Lodge built only about 50 shacks last year. Ice castle could probably produce that many in a month.
There are quite a few manufactures who already build aluminum shells, it would be hard to make a name for yourself with Yetti, firebrand, ridgeline, ect. already producing a lot of shells.
My ultimate suggestion would be sort of a hybrid business plan.
1.) Pre-manufactured shacks with new functional layouts.
2.) A la carte custom shacks. Put together a bunch of new cool features that you can easily replicate (put a bed here, window there, holes here, closet, dual TV's, surround sound. It would give the consumer the option to create their own layout but wouldn't take you the same amount of time to build as a truly custom shack.
3.) Shells - you have to build shells to build shacks, it wouldn't hurt offer them as an option or have a few spare ones on hand.
4.) Kits - Many people want quality but don't want to pay the price for it. They also don't even know where to start with the whole building process. I always though a manufacture should create a kit and sell them. You would save on labor and your customer would save money by assembling it themselves - basically like a big model car. You would build the shell and include all the individual components for the customer to assemble at home (wood, fasteners, tongue and groove, wire, power center, beds, hole covers, lights, switches, ect.). You would need to create some instructions but I think this could be fairly popular in the market.
Sorry for the long post but that's just my view.
Always room for a new player in any thing if they are: 1) Affordable 2) Good craftsmanship 3) Can deliver!
Without going broke!
My take on if there is room in the market for another manufacturer....
After reading some of the horror stories on HSO with people who went with lesser-known manufacturers, and seeing a number of the smaller operations be "here today/gone tomorrow" - I personally would only buy from one of the bigger names (Ice Castle, Yetti, etc.). I know there are complaints about some of them - ice castles in particular - but at least I would know they'll be around in the future if I had an issue or needed to make a warranty claim. The reputation and longevity of your metal fab shop might make skeptics like me a bit more comfortable buying from you, provided you can play off that.
With that said, I'm about as far from a qualified lead as you can get. New siding, a truck/suv, a boat and about another $20K in the kids' 529 funds are all higher on the priority list than a wheel house.
i would have no clue on if theres room for another. the one thing i would like to see, all tho its slow and coming. i love my castle, but the one who made didnt, not alot of love went i to it. the interior is inferior for the price i paid. i should have left it on the lot, but was excited for my first and over looked alot in my excitement. i wont do that again. i dont mind pay any price for what i want in life as long as its of great quality. the people that build my next fish house need to build like it was their own, and not just hurry up, its good enough, get it out.