Return Sunfish Manufacturing to the USA

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by jleonard99, Jul 11, 2017.

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Would you support Sunfish production moving to the US?

  1. Yes

    100.0%
  2. No

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. jleonard99

    jleonard99 Sunny Sailer

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    I would like to get everyone's thoughts and opinions on this. I have been reading numerous posts on the forum, where people have waited months for a Sunfish. There seems to be production/shipping problems somewhere along the line. I believe these problems could be fixed if the boat production line returned to the US. Does anyone know how much Laser Performance paid for the company, or rights to produce the Sunfish? An American boatmaker or group may be interested in starting to make them here. I would like to organize a group if possible to petition LP to return or sell the rights to Sunfish. I'm sure we have some lawyers on the forum who would be willing to help lay down the legal foundation of a company, that could be invested in by members. This forum contains some of the most knowledgeable and experienced Sunfish sailors that would be helpful in the future of the Sunfish. Together, we have a chance to bring the boat back into the spotlight of boating/sailing. I look forward to hearing responses and ideas.
     
  2. Doug Warren

    Doug Warren Member

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    The basic question is probably how much would you be willing to pay LP for the Sunfish rights? As we all know everything is for sale at the right price. You would probably have to pay to get the molds back from China as well. Next would be how much could you make by selling Sunfish boats? Does the price paid justify the expense of buying the rights, paying to set up manufacturing and the like?

    Do you have money to put up to start this process? I believe there may be others willing to join in but I expect you would need to show how much money can be made from this business.
     
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  3. jleonard99

    jleonard99 Sunny Sailer

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    Those are some excellent points, and I agree with all that you said. The key to the idea I have is to be able to return them, cover the cost of the intitial investment, but be able to keep the price similar to current so people can still enjoy and purchase them. I know that the sunfish support base is good, but to be able to make a deal, the investors would have to have more access to production amounts to sales, as well as time to create the product. The time would most likely stay the same, but employee costs in the USA could heavily impact cost. That is something that concerns me. I will have to contact LP to see if I can access any of this information. I heard a rumor they put out only around 70 boats last year, so at $5000 a boat if this is true, the revenue would be around $350,000. This makes me think this deal can be attainable, as the profit, cannot be too great, after subtracting overseas shipping costs, material cost, and salaries. As I said before, this forum contains some of the most knowledgeable Sunfish sailors. They know about the hulls, and impacts of different things on the boat to the most minute detail. With this information, we know what the boat will need, and if quality materials can be found a lower price, parts such as the spars, mast, and other parts, except the hull, we may be able to make a reasonable return. I know there is a lot of ifs and buts, but as information begins to come in, number can be put in place and this does have a chance of working. I appreciate your input, and hope you will continue to help and comment along this process that is being analyzed.
     
  4. beldar boathead

    beldar boathead Well-Known Member

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    Supposedly they were making 1,000 or so boats a year before they sent the molds on their international trip. I bet with good marketing and sales support you could get the boats back up to maybe 1,500 or so per year in 3 or 4 years.
     
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  5. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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    Although I voted in the above poll to return Sunfish manufacturing stateside, here are two things to consider:

    1) The Market has already determined where new Sunfish will be manufactured. :(

    2) China has strict laws against drugs; whereas new laws are being passed stateside to expand drug usage.

    3) China has an immense "state-owned" freighter fleet piled-high with huge shipping containers. This is why I can buy a 50-pound iron vise for less than $50; whereas, I couldn't even ship it to a neighboring state for $50. :confused:

    OK—three things...:rolleyes:
     
  6. jleonard99

    jleonard99 Sunny Sailer

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    I believe that is correct, sunfish are well know among certain generations, and people remember them from when they grew up if they haven't used them since. That is something that has the possibility of being tapped into.
     
  7. Doug Warren

    Doug Warren Member

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    Remember on the sales price is that your $5,000 price for a Sunfish is what a dealer charges. The manufacturer gets much less and that also includes the mast, spars, blades and sail. My guess is the you have to sell a Sunfish for less than $4,000 to a dealer for them to make an adequate profit.
     
  8. jleonard99

    jleonard99 Sunny Sailer

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    You have brought up some good points that must be considered. They also will be challenging for any group interested in returning the fish. Sadly you are correct on the drug laws, I wish the US would take a much harder stance on that, but with correct management and screening process for employees, we can get the best available. A company policy could also prevent drug usage and terminate any suspicious employees immediately. Shipping is definitely a problem, but with new online and logistics program, transportation cost should lower in the future, as there always has to be a return trip and that can be tapped into for a lower rate once the availability is found. The market does play a large role on this issue, but if Trump does place a tariff on Chinese made goods going into the US the playing field may be leveled. Also Made in USA is good for marketing. Thank you for your feedback and you brought up some good challenging points that will have to be overcome. Please continue to mention things such as this, because they need to be discussed ahead of time.
     
  9. mixmkr

    mixmkr Active Member

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    I would suspect it would be difficult to keep costs under $5k per unit, given the cost of materials, labor, etc. Probably a main reason production moved to China in the first place. Small boat retail costs and all boats in general has increased much than inflation, the last decade or more.
     
  10. jleonard99

    jleonard99 Sunny Sailer

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    That is correct, but in todays market, I believe dealers or the middlemen are starting to be cut out of the process. Shipping methods have improved and online ordering and advertising can net customers just as easy or easier than a salesman. If that can be done, word of mouth can be very effective as it is in all businesses.
     
  11. mixmkr

    mixmkr Active Member

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    I would suspect it would be difficult to keep costs under $5k per unit, given the cost of materials, labor, etc. Probably a main reason production moved to China in the first place. Small boat retail costs and all boats in general has increased much than inflation, the last decade or more witnessed by working for boat dealerships since the late 80' s
     
  12. jleonard99

    jleonard99 Sunny Sailer

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    That may be the case with inflation, but the prices of all boats have gone up by quite a bit over time. This may be something that will have to happen with the fish even though I would love to keep it's current price if possible.
     
  13. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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    Y'know, when an existing product is "Very Good", The Market will decide where the product is made.

    For example, VW has no longer imported their Westphalia Camper. The VW Euro camper concept (T4) is so good, that there are shops that make their living by buying used ones, and "refurbishing" to like-new. These "Very Good" models are more than 14 years old. (!) The newest VW camper is the T6, and is, again, unavailable in the US. (Even VW's "California" model). :rolleyes:

    It's not just those VW campers that are 14 years old: I was shocked to see a like-new 1973 VW camper in a Florida Keys parking lot. Looking closer, an affixed label cited that the revitalized camper is available for rent from a Tampa "refurbisher". (Actually, a whole fleet of 'em)! :eek:

    The point being, that there are a bazillion old Sunfish out there, and an enterprise could make money restoring old and damaged Sunfish. This would not just be an effort to make monetary returns from repairs and painting, but put out a "Very Good" product that would attract attention to existing fleets, raise the value of existing Sunfish—and perhaps revitalize the entire sailing nation. :)
     
  14. jleonard99

    jleonard99 Sunny Sailer

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    I like that idea a lot. I actually prefer that to my initial idea of bringing them back to the US. The initial investment cost would be much lower. This could be very successful, that is something with much less legal and logistical work required. These boats are beautiful and so well constructed, where it would be a hit. Would you be interested in joining me or helping with planning to start this type of venture? I would definitely be willing to invest and start something like this.
     
  15. mixmkr

    mixmkr Active Member

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    And remember new fish are competing with thousands+ used....hence why boat manufacturers are constantly "updating" current models and lines so they don't compete with the much lower prices used market. You can't do that with a popular class boat although mostly used by recreational users
     
  16. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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    You've been looking for boats in South Carolina—a state that encourages business. :cool: What SC county would you propose to start this business?

    Personally, I hate any kind of paperwork, but can visit twice a year—and can deliver a $300 complete, but worn, Sunfish each time. "Totally-Trashed" Sunfish still have expensive saleable parts and panels that can be used for major repairs. I might be able to deliver two trashed 'Fish twice a year. As for "investment", I'd have to think about this.

    There's about 60 regular members of this site, and would like to hear their opinions. :)
     
  17. jleonard99

    jleonard99 Sunny Sailer

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    Oconee county it's in the upstate, with many surrounding lakes. People from Atlanta and nc are looking to buy boats as well. Paperwork is definitely annoying, if we just stuck with bills of sales it could work. Llc are also easy to make. I am interested in your deliver offer. Complete but worn is of interest to me, but totally trashed may be hard for me to work with and may take a larger percentage of investment. 300 is a good price to me and i will be able to purchase on a schedule if we could set something up. I'm looking forward to this, and will get back in town early August and be ready to start.
     
  18. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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    I see lots of man-made lakes in Oconee County. 'Should be rich territory--perhaps to made richer with Sunfish!

    What would you name the LLC?Something easy for sailor to remember--on which to build a memorable reputation?

    At best, the most Sunfish I could deliver would be four a year. (In two trips). How could you keep the doors open over a year's time?

    Given an unlimited "flow" of such Sunfish, in a year's time, how many refurbished Sunfish could you expect to turn out?

    Perhaps collecting restorable Sunfish until "enough" are stored would be a good start. Then hire a reliable teen over summer to go from hull to hull, sanding one repair while waiting for others to cure or dry.

    "Enough" being 20 to 30?

    BTW, to collect my Sunfish "donation", you'll have a 140-mile trip to Charlotte. You've got a trailer?
     
  19. jleonard99

    jleonard99 Sunny Sailer

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    I would definitely make it an easy name to remember, haven't thought of it yet. I do have a jet ski trailer that can pull two sunfish at a time as well as a suburban, which could hold one on the top. As far as storage I have a good sized lot, and a workshop area inside to store and work on the boats. My speed will vary but I could do several at a time, I can drop a boat 20 pounds in about three weeks. I am willing to go through as many as I can hold. I have a lot of free time and could do most of the work myself. Maybe get a friend to help if we got a lot of boats. I will go to auto body places to watch their tactics and learn how to repair and get the paint looking beautiful. If you could pm your number I would like to discuss this on the phone with you and that would be a good way to send pictures of the boats back and forth. I'm at a concert waiting for it to start now but I can talk on the phone tomorrow or whenever works for you.
     
  20. mixmkr

    mixmkr Active Member

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    Sun Salvage :-D

    btw autobody places typically don't do gel work, unless it's on vettes, etc..
     

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