DIY as a business?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Tim Brewers, Nov 23, 2002.

  1. Tim Brewers

    Tim Brewers Agent

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    Hey people, I have been looking for a business I can do part time to make some extra cash. anyway, since I am a carpenter by trade, I have been considering making custom speakers for people. I am thinking to build the speakers and then offer any finish the customer wants. Is there anyone here doing it? any tips, or anything like that? thanks,

    Brew
     
  2. ThurmanG

    ThurmanG Auditioning

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    To get some idea of the competition, you might want to look at what Kyle Ricardson offers at Acoustic Visions.
     
  3. Chris Carswell

    Chris Carswell Supporting Actor

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  4. Tim Brewers

    Tim Brewers Agent

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    Thanks, I will check them out.

    Brew
     
  5. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

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    Not to be too nosy, but what sort of business are Kyle and Brian turning? How many orders are they getting per month/year? Just curious.. I was kicking around the idea of doing some contracted DIY stuff for friends and am curious how big of a plunge it is to do internet based services.
     
  6. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Producer

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    Dave,

    I'm not making much right now, but this is a full time business for me now so I can get most things turned around in a week. I do have 5 or 6 potential customers just waiting in the wings right now. Some are interested in whole 5.1 speaker systems, some just subs. I'm also going to be focusing on HT installs so I don't plan on doing internet only business. People don't seem to understand the value of custom cabinetry so it's hard to make much money off of selling cabinets for kit speakers. It's very hard when someone that builds cabinets on the side doesn't value their time very much and will build things for others for next to nothing. But as some have found out, going with the cheapest price doesn't always get you a quality product.

    At some point I hope the install side of things will take off enough that I could sell finished GR Research speakers (as well as other quality kits) to local customers as part of a full custom package. At that point I can charge properly for my labor.
     
  7. Wes Nance

    Wes Nance Stunt Coordinator

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    Brian,

    How many hours does it take you to make, say, a pair of AV1+'s, from first cut to final poly coat, with a standard veneer, no stain?

    I'm curious how fast you can get going with the right tools, experienced building specific cabinets, etc. . .

    Thanks!

    Wes

    ps I finished and veneered my SCH K0B50 fronts and the center channel. I'll try to post some pics in a thread soon. . .
     
  8. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Producer

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    Wes,

    I'll have to double check since a lot of times my dad does cutting and assembly when I'm not at the shop, but I'd say maybe 10-12 hours or so of actual work. It really ends up being around 4 days total because the majority of the time is taken up veneering. We usually set aside a whole day for that. The poly is a 3 coat process in which you can only do 2 coats in one day and the 3rd the next. I will probably start using lacquer when I get set up for spraying on finishes.
     
  9. Kyle Richardson

    Kyle Richardson Screenwriter

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    Another thing is that people dont realize all of the time involved in the behind the scenes part of it. I may e-mail/telephone a potential customer numerous, numerous times which totals hours and they may never buy. Then if they do buy if you consider all of the time involved I end up making about $5/hour. Of course there are always the customers that you have never spoken with before until they call and order a sub in a 10 minute phone conversation.

    Also, other thing to consider is the support. The sale doesnt end once you ship it out the door so you have to support the sale after the customer receives it. You also have to be there when USPS loses a 40 pound subwoofer driver or UPS decides that the 75 pound sub will survive a drop from 10 feet (yes, real life experiences).

    I guess what I'm saying is that you probably wont get rich doing it. Personally, I dont make enough to be able to quite my full time job and I do it out of love for the hobby. Its quite rewarding to help a customer find the right equipment that will satisfy their needs, deliver the product, and hear a very positive review once it's received.
     
  10. Tim Brewers

    Tim Brewers Agent

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    What was I was thinking was a little different. I want to do pretty much just retail. I do not plan on gearing it towards the DIY crowd. Just aimed towards the crowd that wants to have a HT, but doesn't want the big black boxes, wants some that match their light oak, or maple, or cherry, etc. and someone that is not going to build them themselves.

    I mean,I would build a set of speakers, put a different colored finish on each side of each speaker, then display in a store. Then have the customer come into the store and say "I want that speaker, with this finish"

    Brew
     
  11. Hank Frankenberg

    Hank Frankenberg Cinematographer

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    Tim, you're getting good advice here. As Brian alluded to, the unfortunate reality with trying to build speakers and sell them is that most poeople do not appreciate good cabinetry/finishes and the labor they require. I naievely thought I could build good-sounding speakers with a beautiful hand-rubbed oil finish that people would value and I could charge a decent price for. My first and biggest reality check came in the form of the WAF - most of my potential sales were killed by the wives who don't like the "look" of speakers in their decor, no matter the size or finish. Guys who saw my work and were ready to buy without questioning prices, would come back after discussing with their wives, and sheepishly say something like: "Well, I can't buy your speakers - my wife doesn't want speakers in the room, but she wants in-wall speakers. Can you recommend some in-wall and ceiling speakers?" VERY frustrating. My second realization is the large percentage of people who think Bose delivers high-quality sound and value ('nuff said about that). Also Tim, Brian and I are not talking about mainly selling to the DIY crowd. Our target market is definetly the average person who wants good sound and value. Of course we'll make cabinets for someone who orders a "kit" of drivers and crossover and wants to install those in a cabinet, but the main customer is not DIY.
    You'll find that if you try to get a retail store to display your speakers, you'll be up against their commercial lines of speakers that are nationally advertised and recognized by many customers. You'll likely be seen as a local, garage-shop one-person part-time guy with no reputation, no positive magazine reviews and questionable staying power, e.g. will you be there to service a customer's problem a year from now? Sorry, but a store wants to sell product backed with advertising that brings people into the store. If you find one that will take on your speakers on a consignment basis, then good for you and I wish you success.
    Bottom line is that the income potential is in what Brian is gearing up for: Installation. And along with installs, selling a "system", not by the piece, but a whole system.

    Wes: I'm looking forward to seeing pics of your new speakers!
     
  12. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

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  13. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    After my current project of giving my formerly nekkid speakers a make-over (still on-going), there's is no one that would pay me enough for the time/energy that I've spent on getting my speakers painted, veneered (and dyed), and poly'ed (this is my last step). The application of polyurethane is a long and time-consuming process, I'm putting 3-4 coats, and that's 4-6 hours between coats. Multiply that by 4 different sides. It's a week long process almost just for that last step.

    I'm thinking word of mouth is the only way you'll make any headway into custom speaker making (for those people who want their speakers to match the decor of the rest of their furniture). It's a venture whose demand will be sporadic at best.
     
  14. george king

    george king Supporting Actor

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    If no one minds, I will put in my view, from the customer side of things. I really hope that Brian and Kyle make it, and make a decent living at this, because they provide an invaluable service to the serious HT/music person who wants great audio, but does not have unlimited funds.

    At a certain level I think you will find many of your customers on forums like this, so actively participating is not only fun, but is potentially building a customer base. Here is my experience. I am looking to upgrade, but do not have a large amount of money. While cruising the forums, Brian's name kept popping up as someone who does great work at affordable (but not necessarily cheap) prices. I had several great e-mails with him (he always responded quickly), and I have some raw MDF speaker cabinents coming next week (for my Christmas present I am going to "build" a pair of GR research Av-1s). When I get paid for some of my work early next year, I will have Brian build me a sub.

    Now I had never heard of Brian until I heard his reputation on the forum, and as a result, he has gotten some business, and will get more business from me in the future. In addition, given my positive experiences with Brian, I now always recommend that people check him out in the threads "What speakers/subwoofer" to get. I also hope that such word of mouth references has gotten him some additional business.

    Well just my 2 cents, and I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!!
     
  15. DerekF

    DerekF Stunt Coordinator

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    Good point George. I'll throw in my $.02 as a prospective customer...

    I, too, could likely be one of those "ten minute conversations that ended up in an order", because I'm doing most of my research ahead of time through the major forums.

    Everything from the type of enclosure, desired tuning point, RMS wattage and desired finish are all coming in to focus--and since I don't even own a router, the Rutledge and Acoustic sites are high on my favorites list.

    And because I'll likely never read about these products in a magazine, user experiences and reviews on the forum carry a great deal of weight with me.

    BTW, Brian, Kyle, what has your experience been with regard to shipping to Canada? I'm curious, because I'm still feeling violated from a very negative recent experience with UPS Ground...
     
  16. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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  17. george king

    george king Supporting Actor

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    Ajay,

    Your costs are pretty close I believe, as Kyle sells them for $950/pr according to his web site.
     
  18. Hank Frankenberg

    Hank Frankenberg Cinematographer

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    Looks like I need to get a commercial web site.
    Ajay, Brian and I recently had a bad UPS experience on some drivers I ordered from Canada and had shipped to Brian and I. The UPS ground charges were outrageous! [​IMG] Was your bad experience due to high UPS charges from U.S. to Canada?
     
  19. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Producer

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    I only have problems with UPS shipping to Texas. They keep damaging enclosures that I send to Danny! [​IMG]
     
  20. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    "But as some have found out, going with the cheapest price doesn't always get you a quality product. "

    That's so true. My hand-built cabinets (cost: $50/pair for towers) sure look ugly, and the compromised structural integrity is probably hurting performance too. For the prices you guys are charging, the quality cabinets are definitely worth it to people looking for a truly good product. I think it's unavoidable that people like me looking to save every penny are going to try their own hands at it though.
     

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