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 Post subject: Re: DragonSlayer Canoes
PostPosted: December 4th, 2009, 1:05 pm 
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snowgoose.skipper wrote:
Is there, somewhere in this thread, any projection of future value? If your initial investment is tens of thousands of dollars then you would presumably hope to be able to exit with at least that same amount (if not considerably more, given the risks you've taken, to say nothing of the hours and energy you've committed) as and when you sold up / retired. How does that work in the small-boat building world?

Have you got a figure in mind for the market value of Dragonslayer Canoes after (say) 10 years assuming {a} things go well; and {b} things don't go so well. What combination of asset value and profitability (over and above materials and labour costs, etc) would determine that value?

Alternatively, what hull price and volume of output would be needed for you (or someone else) to employ a salaried manager to take everything over and return you (or someone else) a market rate on however much has been sunk into the business?

As i said, apologies if I've missed discussion of this earlier, and if I'm off track in having this concern: I grew up in a small business that was sold on and dabbled in economics at college but don't presume to know exactly how this sort of thing should be calculated. Does strike me as significant though, 'cos if you are not at least confident of about being able to exit with what you started with... or of sitting back and letting someone else shoulder the work... you surely need to be putting a certain amount per hull into recouping your lost investment (preferably including all those seemingly uncosted hours you appear to be happily volunteering (believe that's right) as part of getting DS Canoes started).


To be honest, no, I haven't given this a lot of thought.

Number one, it's a game... or an exercise at this point since my semi-able staff of consultants have all jumped ship. I don't have the time or the inclination to work up a sophisticated business plan for this thread. If I was investing my actual inheritance... you betcha! That doesn't mean I don't have a fair idea of how this crazy idea might pan out after about ten years time, but I only have the "el cheapo" crystal ball to work with here, so my powers of prediction are limited.

Forecasting into the future would imply that I have a clear idea where the paddle craft market is going, and if anyone says they know that, I'm gonna start to pray to them on Sunday mornings.

Pete Hornbeck had no clue that, 20 years after he started making his high-tech pack canoes, Christine Jerome would buy a couple of his canoes, set out on a reenactment of Nessmuk's ADK travels and turn it into a best selling book. His sales skyrocketed from that point and now he is a wealthy man. But before all that, he had been building his boats and successfully selling them on a part-time basis for years, slowly building a devoted following.

Regarding observation and serendipitous discovery, Louis Pasteur said, "Chance favors the prepared mind". Pete had an idea, did his homework and developed and refined his products over the years. He stuck to his very simple business plan - make 'em and sell them directly to the consumer - while he worked full-time as a teacher (David Yost was also a teacher) for his living needs. When the time came for these little cuties to explode on the pond-hopping day tripping scene... well, chance favored the prepared builder.

I only started the thread with 100K because I needed a believable amount or it wouldn't be any fun. In real life, a small composite boat shop can be started on a heck of a lot less. Jim Henry got this whole ball rolling back in the 70s in his garage with a single canoe. You probably know the rest of the Mad River story, but some may not, so here is an excerpt from an article on Kay Henry:


Quote:
Although camping was relatively new to her, “we basically lived outdoors” during that trip, says Henry. “I thought, ‘This is fun. I’d like to do more of this.’ ” Strapped to the top of the VW bus was a canoe that Jim had designed. He’d taken a book from the library about native North American bark-and-skin boats and, for fun, had built a mold out of plaster, then had it cast in fiberglass.


...When the couple returned east from their trip, they learned that their jobs had fallen through. With nothing better to do, Jim took his boat and raced it in the national championship, held that year on the Dead River in Maine, and won. Word got out about Jim’s winning canoe, and people started asking him to build a similar canoe for them. The Henrys moved into their ski house in Waitsfield, Vermont, and Jim started building boats in the garage. Henry, always a numbers person, took over the business end of the fledgling company while her husband continued to design canoes. Soon, Mad River Canoe had a building in downtown Waitsfield, more than eighty employees, and 200 dealers selling a line of more than twenty canoes—“Everything from little twelve-foot solo canoes to big eighteen-and-a-half-foot racing boats,” Henry says. The company had also made a name for itself as a manufacturer of quality high-end boats and as an innovator in the outdoor industry.

One of the major innovations that Mad River introduced, for example, came about in the early 1970s when the Henrys approached the DuPont Company to see about constructing canoes out of a new material that DuPont had been using to make tires—it was durable and strong and lightweight, but had never before been used to make sporting goods. Mad River introduced the first Kevlar canoe in 1974.


...With any project, she says, “I expect to build something better than others do, and I don’t usually stop until I feel I have achieved a good portion of that.”

...Henry’s leadership style was to be clear about the company’s overall vision and direction, and then hire talented people who were passionate about the outdoors and whom she could set loose from there. She encouraged teamwork among her staff and let them try out some pretty crazy ideas, even launching, for a short time, Mad River Canoe paddling tours. The company was committed to “making this a lifestyle instead of just a manufacturer,” recalls Kay’s husband, Rob Center, who served for many years as vice president of marketing and sales. “Kay always believed that we’d sell the product if we sold the sport.”


All of the DS-type messages are right there. Believe you will make a better boat. It's a lifestyle. Sell the sport and the clientele will follow. Keep your mind open to new ideas (the Henrys produced the very first production Kevlar canoe in 1974). And ultimately, pay attention to the bottom line as you evolve.

Business plans are for major investments like franchises and such where the demographics can tell you exactly how much you will need, what you will sell, etc. (although I worked for a year for an ex-Xerox IT VP "genius" who ran his entire $750,000 401K into the ground and became the first Woodcraft franchise ever to fold). Small fledgling businesses like small boat building are crap shoots no matter how carefully you might plan them. The secret is to keep your eyes, ears and mind open, your nose ever pressed to the grindstone, and be willing to evolve as your business changes over time. And it will change.

Lastly, by making as many purchases as I could through the used tool market, I was able to save tons of money and eliminate the instant depreciation that buying new creates. For example, the 12" Delta table saw I purchased for DS? Well I actually did see it at the Tool Shed (real great place for a guy to spend an entire Saturday looking at "boy toys") for $800. I thought of buying it and reselling it on eBay but I have no place to store it. Alas, as real I tried to make it look, I haven't a clue what that building I found on Google maps "along the sandy shores of Lake Clear" really is. Maybe Charlie Wilson can take a ride over there to let me know.

But if I had purchased it for $800 in the fine used condition it's in, and used it for the entire 5-year time frame, I could easily liquidate it from the location at any time after the business's demise and turn a tidy profit on it rather than incur any loss. Think outside the box and you won't be stuck living inside it.

Recouping my money on the materials? Well, the assumption is that all of it will be turned into boats. Even if I failed to retail a single boat, I'm quite sure I could sell them for a heck of a lot more than the cost of materials if the need arose. The area sees intense canoe activity, and smart folks like PK are always on the prowl for quality boats at bargain prices. I have no doubt that PK and I would finally meet face to face for beers if I offered to sell a brand new DS St. George 15 to him for $800. If not, the liveries would scoop them up at half price.

The molds themselves? Well, history has shown that they live on in other hands. The Fire series molds, although they may be a bit "moldy", are still functional and are in their third incarnation. I have no idea what Charlie sold them to Colden for, but I know I would have paid a lot for them... a real lot.

When the time comes, I promise you I will make a full and realistic accounting of everything that transpires by the end of the 5-year plan, and that includes the possible going out of business sale. All will depend on how I play the game. I am using an estimate of 100 boats/year based on the known output of my nearest real life competitor. However, the market may already be completely saturated, and we will both go out of business selling 50 boats/yr. Or... the increased exposure will bring an influx of new paddlers to into the sport and we will both see increased sales (more likely, and that is the basic idea of this thread). Or... my prices are enough lower and the quality as good or better and I get all of the business and my competitor sells out to me and buys an island in the Caribbean. OK... maybe in the Adirondacks.

Any scenario is possible, within the confines of the game or in real life. Life itself is one big crap shoot, and unlike canoe companies, no one gets to get a lick of experience ahead of time before being forced to play the game.

So, snowgoose.skipper... Welcome to DragonSlayer, the world's first, last, only and lonely (until you showed up) virtual reality canoe manufacturing company. I was all set to drop this thing due to lack of interest. I wrote almost everything so far to lead up to the conclusion I came up with and posted numbers for. High quality canoes can be made and offered much cheaper than they are currently being offered to the public by the big companies. That means that, in effect, the punch line has already been delivered. But if there is one single soul out there somewhere on the planet that still has interest in DragonSlayer, I will continue on. Looks like you're it for now.

Dam you!

_________________
“We can have great disparities of wealth or we can have democracy. But we cannot have both.” - Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis


Last edited by littleredcanoe on December 4th, 2009, 1:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: DragonSlayer Canoes
PostPosted: December 4th, 2009, 1:59 pm 
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Battenkiller wrote:
[So, snowgoose.skipper... Welcome to DragonSlayer, the world's first, last, only and lonely (until you showed up) virtual reality canoe manufacturing company. I was all set to drop this thing due to lack of interest. I wrote almost everything so far to lead up to the conclusion I came up with and posted numbers for. High quality canoes can be made and offered much cheaper than they are currently being offered to the public by the big companies. That means that, in effect, the punch line has already been delivered. But if there is one single soul out there somewhere on the planet that still has interest in DragonSlayer, I will continue on. Looks like you're it for now.


Sorry BK, bad timing on starting a virtual canoe company with me as your media coordinator. I'm making a race against the cold here in Michigan. Just got 4 inches of the white stuff last night. I come it to drink coffee and read about your virtual actions between threading 12 gauge wiring to switches and receptacles in an unheated addition. If it were warmer you wouldn't hear squat from me as I wouldn't need to come in and warm the digits.

PK

PK

Dam you![/quote]


Last edited by pknoerr on December 5th, 2009, 9:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: DragonSlayer Canoes
PostPosted: December 4th, 2009, 9:02 pm 
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BK, I don't see you enjoying yourself slathering epoxy on cloth.

You're a wood guy. Stay with what you know and like.

Invert your thinking. Make Ferrari's.

The problem is defining what a Ferrari is in the canoe world. Charlie Wilson argues that it is a designer-label designed, uber-lightweight, all-composite canoe. That was a vision of his, and he has followed that vision.

I believe that vision is a small minority view, and that only a small market of paddlers will pay a lot of money for that particular type of canoe.

Back to wood. I think that's where the Ferrari's of the boat world have always been and, to some reasonable extent, will continue to be.

Hence, why not consider becoming the Phil Greene of the north. He makes $3000 paddles and $140,000 canoes out of "ancient wood" for a tiny niche of super-wealthy wooden boat collectors. And some cheaper stuff for real people. His CD shows about 120 photos of his work. I'm planning on visiting him in March.

Maybe there's room for another builder in that niche.


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 Post subject: Re: DragonSlayer Canoes
PostPosted: December 8th, 2009, 3:49 pm 
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Battenkiller wrote

“Well my friend, I put my figures ….I’ll send you the entire spreadsheet…”

Dan, I have REAL spreadsheets from Bell Canoe, Placid boatworks and Colden Canoe on my computer.

“Build times your word against mine. I’ve personally watched every aspect of the infusion process….”

I have personally built over 1000 composite canoes, including wet lay with Curtis, then Bell, then Placid, wet bagging with Bell, and infusion with Placid then Colden. My times are REAL times building three blanket hulls with multiple internal partials and wood trim with three different builders. I have facts. You have beliefs.

All these companies put +/- 40 pieces of fabric and foam in the mold, all placed with precision. These hulls are much more complicated to build than 10 piece Hornbecks or wetting out a couple of single glass layers over a stripper.

And, we should drop Ferrari comparison for Lotus. Lotii are more accessibly priced, and Lotus developed and patented an important infusion technology in 72.

You under rate the problems of both wet layup and infusion. Wet lay requires quite a bit of feel for wet out and partial placement. It takes many hulls to get it right. Once you’ve dominated wet layup why switch to infusion?

Infusion reduces resin ratios from 100% of fabric weight ~55%, VOC voids that are inevitable in wet lay and common in wet bagging are completely eliminated and the hull cross links en masse, so does not need oven curing. Andre the GRP Guru states that it takes focused shops two years to become competent infusion processors. That it seems simple to a casual observer is one thing, producing first quality skittles is another. Placid boatworks, just Joe Moore and me at the time, developed a proprietary infusion process from mid 05 to mid 06 because we focused and because we compared notes with Swift; we had two teams working on development.

“You can also do the math if you’re the least bit savvy.”

I’m savvy enough to know your production numbers are off. Your Hornbeck build / trim times may be right, because it is a simple and a little boat, but your production numbers seem a little high. [I do think Pete’s BlackJack is a stroke of genius for a specific usage.] I know that your numbers for Placid; 400/5= 80 /year are roughly half of reality. GRE, whom we haven’t mentioned, Hemlock, and Vermont Canoe all produce about a hundred hulls a year. My facts don’t mesh with your beliefs and boat building is not a belief based activity.

The composite market seems headed for smaller, Niche, composite builders, selling targeted product regionally. One reason is shipping with cost and arrival condition issues. Another is the ability to focus on designs and laminations appropriate for the region. I feel it unlikely any regional builder will make the jump from a few hundred hulls produced to several thousand units like Bell and Wenonah, because it is relatively easier to become financially successful with a small shop than to reach for that brass ring of the large production shop. I might know, having done both.

I figure ~1200 top quality solo hulls are sold annually by Bell, Hemlock, Merrimack, Savage River, Swift, Placid boatworks, WenoNah and now Colden. Top end builders get maximum return per mold cycle, but it’s a hard, innovation driven, game.

You’ve picked a different niche and pricepoint where the market is larger and the competition with Bell, Hornbeck, Mill Pond, Sawyer, Swift and WeNoNah is rougher with lower return per mold cycle. I doubt it will help your marketing to denigrate superior products.

I know you disapprove of my concept of the solo canoe: light, rugged and no-maintenance achieved through aero-space technology. But, had you had a 28lb Colden or Placid WildFire, at Star Lake last summer you could have carried it up the hill by yourself. Lots of folks enjoy the independence a light hull brings


charlie


Last edited by CCR Moderators on December 8th, 2009, 4:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: DragonSlayer Canoes
PostPosted: December 8th, 2009, 4:11 pm 
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Once again, we would like to remind folks that the forums on Canadian Canoe Routes is not the appropriate venue for the airing of personal disputes.

Please take a few moments to read the Forum Rules of Behaviour


Thank you,

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 Post subject: Re: DragonSlayer Canoes
PostPosted: December 8th, 2009, 5:18 pm 
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Hmmmm. Virtual canoe company based on a model that doesn't worry about making a profit and can afford to loose everything vs. real buisness model that people are counting on for income. This is about as much fun at Sarah Palin arguing who is right with David Letterman a couple months back.

Entertaining! :rofl:

PK


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 Post subject: Re: DragonSlayer Canoes
PostPosted: December 8th, 2009, 5:25 pm 
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Just because one is in business does not automatically make them the model.

Many a new businesses have begun based on theory and done better than the existing business models.

Businesses are started everyday with no business plan, some work some don't. I would be willing to bet that the ones started with a sound business plan have a far better chance than those without though.

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 Post subject: Re: DragonSlayer Canoes
PostPosted: December 8th, 2009, 5:32 pm 
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Charlie, I agree with the moderators. Not because they make the rules, but because it is in the best interest of the membership here.

Let's settle this stuff over dinner and a few beers (my treat, anywhere you want). The person-to-person way is the very best way to communicate. Internet works, but sometime causes more confusion than illumination.

I'm definitely sorry (stunned actually) that this all got out of hand. Next time, fire off an e-mail to me and let me know you are not happy with my tone, or content or whatever. I will back off instantly. I always have in the past in these circumstances.

In the meantime, let's stick to this silly game here and have a more reality based discussion somewhere else.

Cheers,

Dan Fera

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“We can have great disparities of wealth or we can have democracy. But we cannot have both.” - Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis


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 Post subject: Re: DragonSlayer Canoes
PostPosted: December 8th, 2009, 6:20 pm 
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Red Lake Rob wrote:
Just because one is in business does not automatically make them the model.

Many a new businesses have begun based on theory and done better than the existing business models.

Businesses are started everyday with no business plan, some work some don't. I would be willing to bet that the ones started with a sound business plan have a far better chance than those without though.


Rob, I don't disagree... but I'm not sure what that has to do with DS canoe being a fake company as part of a game from the very beginning that can make outrageous statements and not worry about actually delivering them and the other representing an actual company that has everything to loose.

PK


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 Post subject: Re: DragonSlayer Canoes
PostPosted: December 8th, 2009, 6:26 pm 
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Marc Ornstein from the "New Canoe Company - Colden Canoe" Thread:


I’ve sat on the sidelines for some time now, absorbing and cogitating the various discussion points. It’s unfortunate that some of the earlier posts stated or implied that current crop of Fire boats is/was overpriced. Thankfully after additional discussion that description was modified and terms such as pricey were substituted.

These boats are pricey. So are fine cars, musical instruments, finely crafted homes, artwork and many other items craved by our affluent society. Sure the present economy is depressed (or recessed) and perhaps will remain that way for some time but if history is to be trusted, it will come back. In the meantime, Paul is not giving up his other business and I presume can wait it out.

Whether or not these boats can be made and sold in the $2000 price range is an interesting discussion. I’m sure there are some places where costs can be shaved, profits reduced, perhaps a few corners cut etc. I’m not sure any or all of that will result in great savings. Frankly, If I’m buying a top end, hand made canoe, I want the full attention of the builder and I don’t want him pressured to meet a too low price point.

I read all of the calculations and much of it was fuzzy at best. I’ve run successful businesses for the past 35 years. I terminated one of my very 1st ventures because I failed to recognize all of the costs. I never made the same mistake again. Profits and wages are not one and the same as was implied in one of the posts. Missing from several of the calculations were costs such as product liability insurance, general liability insurance, workers compensation insurance for employees, fire and theft insurance for the manufacturing facility. How about the direct costs for hauling boats around to shows and events and the indirect costs such as wear and tear on the demo boats. How about compensation for the boat builder or his rep. for the time spent at shows or otherwise promoting sales. We all know that every business has it’s fair share of “2nds”. These boats must either be brought up to standard or sold at a discount. The list goes on and on.

Not everyone can afford or is willing to spend the dollars necessary for a top of the line product. Sometime a well used or less expensive model is better suited to the purpose, i.e. running a rocky stream at low water levels. That doesn’t mean the product should be cheapened so as to appeal to the masses. Referring to a previous analogy, I don’t believe that BMW offers cars priced competitively with Chevrolet, and I don’t build paddles to compete with bending Branches etc.

This discussion has been useful from a market research standpoint. Several knowledgeable people have voiced their likes and dislikes regarding various features and desires for a mid priced line of canoes. Several of those posting are known to be well acquainted with the industry and IF they believe that a sizable market exists for such a canoe and IF they are confident that it can be successfully built and sold at the $2000 price point, they should start building and selling them. In the meantime, I don’t think Paul is expecting to get wealthy building canoes. He is hoping to serve a niche market of canoe aficionados and make a few dollars while doing something he has a passion for.

Marc Ornstein
Dogpaddle Canoe Works
Custom Paddles and Cedar Strip Canoes



Joe


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 Post subject: Re: DragonSlayer Canoes
PostPosted: December 8th, 2009, 6:31 pm 
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pknoerr wrote:
Rob, I don't disagree... but I'm not sure what that has to do with DS canoe being a fake company as part of a game from the very beginning that can make outrageous statements and not worry about actually delivering them and the other representing an actual company that has everything to loose.


Don't laugh too hard. I made it a little too real for someone. He e-mailed me to ask when he could test paddle one of the canoes.

I wrote back and told him to stop by on May 15... 2025. :rofl:

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 Post subject: Re: DragonSlayer Canoes
PostPosted: December 8th, 2009, 6:39 pm 
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BK, I'm not laughing... It's just fun playing a virtual part in your business adventure... with nothing to loose but words, and nothing to gain but a little chuckle... :rofl:

PK


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 Post subject: Re: DragonSlayer Canoes
PostPosted: December 11th, 2009, 9:42 am 
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This thread has been a rather unique and interesting concept but we feel the time has come to lay it to rest.

Thanks for the fun while it was fun.

CCR Moderators.


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