Custrom Frame Business - any advice?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Custrom Frame Business - any advice?

    What are the ins and outs of trying to get your own business going? Do you enjoy it? Are there alot of people out there that try it and fail? Can you feed your family? I've been toying with the idea and was just wondering if anyone had anything to share.

  2. #2
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    Well, I've got one piece of advice: Learn how to spell Custom. D'oh!

  3. #3
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    Have roo had anry experiwence wif custrom fwames Hans Bwix?



    In all seriousness, it's a lot of fun, there is no money in it, and the biggest problems are money, cash, cashflow, capital, and other industry specific issues usually relating to how weird people in the bike industry are.

    That's it in a nutshell.
    No longer member of the bike industry nor society, so don't hassle me.

  4. #4

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    I have a freind who has been building frames professionally for 13 years. His brand is world reknown. Just last year he was able to cut his part time status at the bike shop where he works to "as-needed."

    He and his wife just bought a house. If it wasn't for her paycheck, that wouldn't happen.

    I've been in the industry for 15 years now... i call it "taking my vow of poverty."

  5. #5

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    Always an interesting topic. I was watching some show the other night about custom surf board shops. These guys seem to be doing pretty damn well for themsleves. Surfers are pretty hardcore about their gear, so the guys who hand build the boards can do pretty well. I would think the same could be said for custom bike builders IF they run their business the right away. Just like with any business, some guys will do it right, some won't.... the guys that know how to build frames AND run a business are the ones that will make some good coin, the others will just scrape by or dissappear entirely.

  6. #6
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    I certainly get the impression that the well known and respected custom builders have plenty of work. I would think for these guys this should translate into some kind of a reasonable income. I wonder how many custom builders there are in the US who are trying to make a go at it? For every builder/brand you've heard of, how many are out there that you haven't heard of?

    Anway, it's fairly obvious that it's not about the money. I was more wondering if, after some time, you could hope to pay the bills. I guess the best and maybe only way to get going is to run it on the side of a regular full or part time job.

    I was more interested in people's experiences, though. Is running a frame building business what you thought it would be? Do you still enjoy it, or is just a job like any other? What kind of mistakes did you make that could have been avoided?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpiontek
    I certainly get the impression that the well known and respected custom builders have plenty of work. I would think for these guys this should translate into some kind of a reasonable income. I wonder how many custom builders there are in the US who are trying to make a go at it? For every builder/brand you've heard of, how many are out there that you haven't heard of?

    Anway, it's fairly obvious that it's not about the money. I was more wondering if, after some time, you could hope to pay the bills. I guess the best and maybe only way to get going is to run it on the side of a regular full or part time job.

    I was more interested in people's experiences, though. Is running a frame building business what you thought it would be? Do you still enjoy it, or is just a job like any other? What kind of mistakes did you make that could have been avoided?
    you'll probably have more luck asking your question on frameforum.com. There are quite a few folks there who are seriously in the business. There aren't many folks in the business who are making enough money to live, it's about passion and spousal income. Certainly, there are a couple of standouts, builders who have earned a tremendous level of respect and can not only keep themselves busy, but can get a premium asking price for their product.

    DWF on this board would be a good person to ask. Also checkout his Anvil website. I believe he's said over and over that most builders undervalue themselves and are doing a huge disservice not only to themselves, but the industry as a whole by not taking into consideration all the things that they pay for in their CODB...tooling, space, insurance (including liability), health care, taxes, extra time, retirement, warrantee, etc...
    Sean Chaney :: Owner/Builder :: Vertigo Cycles

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