Actual build cost vs markup on US built off road trailers/teardrops.

GkraneTX

Active member
I think the markup on all of these US made top of the line off road teardrop style trailers must be astronmical. Moby1 seems ridiculously priced, Blue Ridge BRX1 seems heavily priced as well, Oregon Trailer TerraDrop with no A/C goes down the same path. After doing quite a bit of research some of these use wood framing and sides with an aluminum skin. What makes a Moby1 43K, compared to a BRX1 at 27K? What makes a BRX1 27k compared to a VRV eco flyer fully loaded at 13k. It seems like some of the main differences are on board water and shower, wood galley with dometic fridge/freezer, timbren axeless suspension, and a rooftop tent and awning. I just dont see where the extra 14k to 31k is going? Please tell me if I missed anything.
 

ottsville

Observer
I don't know where the price difference comes from on those models as I haven't compared them. I was surprised at the cost of many of these types of teardrops initially but the more I've explored them, the less shocked I am by the price.

I have clicked through almost every teardrop and camper build on this forum(and many on TNTTT) and seen what some people have spent building theirs. You can burn the through $4-$5k or more pretty easily on materials and outfitting. Then you have hundreds of hours of labor to include in the "cost." Add in research, product development, marketing, insurance, labor costs of employees, shop costs, etc for a manufacturer and you can see where the price comes from. Also, many of the higher end manufacturers are probably not large enough to get a great discount on materials by buying in bulk.
 

MuseChaser

New member
I haven't looked at trailers, I'm newish here, and know pretty much nothing. With those caveats...

All of my life, I've been of the "buy very used but high quality stuff cheap, fix what needs fixing yourself, and then save money with DIY improvements/addons" mindset. Sailboats, airplanes, vehicles, audio equipment, houses, ... all that stuff has been approached with that attitude. After 57 years on this planet, looking back, I wouldn't change a thing, and probably won't in the future, BUT.....

1. By the time you buy the original item, parts (many times, you buy several sets of parts while doing trial and error attempts, or find out it wasn't quite what you were looking for), and occasionally have to pay for outside expertise/help/fabrication skills, you've spent almost as much as you would have just buying exactly what you wanted in the first place. Case in point.. recently placed an order for Landshark's excellent KISS customizeable storage drawer kit for $748 shipped to my door; great price for a great product, and less money than any other two-drawer w/ wings storage option. Will build a DIY fridge slide, probably another $100. Probably spend another $50-$100 applying some form of finish (Epoxy/urethane? Carpeting? Rubber mat? don't know yet). Soooo... I'm at$948, and probably 20 hours of time by the time I get done. Or... I could have hopped on a recent group buy for a Dobinson two drawer unit w/ wings and integrated fridge slide for $1220, and just bolted it in. Hmmmm... an extra $270 to save me 20 hours, AND a potentially stronger unit to boot due to it's internal steel frame. You tell me... did I really save anything?

2. Bought a very respected older sailboat that usually goes for around $5000 in great condition. Found one for $2000 that needed a little fixin' up. I've got a total of $6000 in it now, and am in the process of yet another fairly major repair. Hmmmm...

3. I've seen a lot of vehicles here with fairly high mileage, built, listed for $15K-$20K more than the vehicle itself is worth according to KBB/NADA. Sooo.. I recently bought a low-mileage version of just the vehicle, and am embarking on the "outfitting" process. The more I learn and get into it, the more I realize that I'm probably not going to save much money... if any. I WILL know the vehicle inside and out, and it will be equipped exactly how we wish it to be as we add to it over the years and refine our knowledge and needs

Having said all of that, for me, this route is still worth it. I like learning a lot about my equipment, and building/repairing is the best way to do that. I don't like paying for or having stuff I don't want, use, or need, and buying something already "built" almost guarantees that SOMETHING on the truck (trailer) isn't necessary to your "mission." Before deciding on going with an LX/LC w/ RTT to see the country in a few months, my wife and I considered going for a Sprinter conversion and looked at one for a great price locally, new but old stock, but still $80K out the door. Drove very nice for what it was, and the view of the road was beautiful. End of story. Worst use of space I've ever seen, all form over function (we're the complete opposite type of folks... FUNCTION, baby)... 60% of the stuff wasn't needed or useful, but just there to make it look like home while adding weight and taking up space.

Just some thoughts. I'm really beginning to better understand why some of these rigs command the higher prices.
 

ArkansasDon

Observer
I didn't build a teardrop & I hope this will shed some light to your question. I built a M416 style overland trailer. IMO I feel it's all what someone wants to put into the build as a build budget or cost along with time frame of the build. I've seen some nicely done builds that someone took their time & put a lot of thought into the build, were prices was up & over 10,000., then I seen some that were slap together jimmie rigged that I wouldn't even trust on asphalt roads or trails for far pennies on the dollars. Another factor to think about is time frame of your build & how long this will take. Planning on a reasonable time frame for the build w\o cutting corners or lowering ones quality of materials & parts will determine the build.

My personal build start to finish took 9 1\2 months (week-ends & week nights), not counting 6 months of research prior the build: suspension system, solar (how large a system I wanted), battery, electrical (what I was planning on running off 12 volts) "gear", tires, rims, type of frame\chassis design & metal size, tow couplers, paint colors, tent, awning, tub kit, tailgate w\latches & etc.
My build cost was $7, 325.00 into the trailer w\o solar, camping gear or my 12v\110 fridg\freez. My solar I have a little over $1,120.00 including the VMax Tank 125ah AGM battery.

IMO I feel when you build a offroad trailer several factors should come to play: design reliability, will the trailer perform what ones hopes safely structural & electrical, towing during the travels on or offroad w\o break downs, how about possibility of resale, will the trailer be sold @ a cost were both party's seller & buyer come out the same as of happy.

My wife & I are 66yrs & 58 yrs & I know down the road we will have to make that decision on selling the trailer I built & will have go with a teardrop style overlanding trailer. This coming early spring 2019 Sally & I will be doing the Trans America Trail run Arkansas (our home state) & Oklahoma trail. I have no problem that my build will hold up & give us many good memories as it has so far.


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john61ct

Adventurer
First thing you need to accept about free market economics.

The price a company charges does not necessarily have anything to do with rational objective factors like their input costs.

Given the success of their positioning in the marketplace and customer demand, they may have a markup of 500%.

Only with reduced demand, or over the long term in a truly competitive marketplace with well-informed rational customers will margins have to shrink.

Those conditions do not exist in this niche.

So shop for what **you** want, or build it yourself, complaining is useless.

And look to Europe and down under to see a much larger customer base willing and able to spend big money on quality gear.

I think it's great the usually chintzy poor quality US industry is starting to step up its game.
 

vintageracer

To Infinity and Beyond!
I think it's great the usually chintzy poor quality US industry is starting to step up its game.
Maybe just maybe we are FINALLY getting over the Wal Mart effect that so many consumer's in this country have accepted for so many years where it's all about PRODUCT PRICE with little to NO regard for PRODUCT QUALITY!

Ya us Americans SAY we want quality however when it comes time SPEND our own money it's all about the PRICE! Quality all of sudden ain't that damn important!

Example:

Went to look for a heat gun at Home Depot 10 years ago when they had the tool section separated from the rest of the stuff. No heat gun so I asked for one. Tool guy says they are under lock and key and would get one for me. Milwaukee branded, made in Germany and $65.00. Is this all ya got? Nope! Go to the paint department they have 5 others!

Go to paint department and sure enough 5 more heat guns. Price $14.99-$29.99. ALL CHINESE manufactured with 2 of the 5 branded Milwaukee!

Went back to the tool shed and picked up the expensive Milwaukee. Asked the sales clerk when was the last time they sold one of these expensive heat guns? He said I can't remember! So why are they under lock and key? Nobody buy's em they just STEAL em so now they are under lock and key!

I still have the expensive German made Milwaukee brand heat gun and still it works great after 10 years. Ironically the cheap Chinese made heat guns had a higher heat rating than the German made gun.

The tool guy says the cheap Chinese guns get returned all the time as they fail quickly however I am the only idiot who will spend $65.00 once a good heat gun once instead of $14.99 5 times for a cheap Chinese gun.

It's all about the money!

Concerning Teardrop Trailers:

LABOR costs money and guys who fabricate Teardrop Trailers are not $10.00 an hour guys. Do the math! At the end of the day these trailers are produced by "Cottage Industry" small business companies with according to all the Economists makes up 70% of the US Economy. Small business's do not get all the government welfare tax breaks, buying power and economies of scale that the Fortune 500 companies enjoy.

WHY IS THAT????

If it takes 2 weeks (10 business days) for ALL fabrication, assembly and delivery process for a Teardrop trailer that alone is 80 hours of labor by people who earn a lot more than $10/hour. Add in design costs, cost of parts, hourly employee wages, office help, facility cost/rent, tooling, tools, environmental costs, business licenses, product liability insurance, employee benefits, unemployment insurance, warranty repair costs and on and on! ADD to the top of ALL THAT the dreaded word PROFIT that no customer wants to pay and that trailer gets REAL EXPENSIVE REAL FAST!

Look at the cost of a Teardrop Trailer from the perspective of a Small Business Owner making Teardrop Trailers who is responsible EVERY WEEK for "Making a Payroll" rather than looking at the cost of Teardrop Trailer from the perspective an "Employee" who just put in my 40 hours and "Draws a Paycheck" for their income with NO concern whatsoever if that small company they work for sold anything or made any money that week!

Good thing we still have American Entrepreneur's out there willing to risk it all for their Passion and Profit!
 
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s.e.charles

Well-known member
Actual build cost vs markup on US built off road trailers/teardrops

if you go to the supermarket and buy an apple for 5 cents, the market probably paid 3 cents.

businesses do not go out of business because they make too much money.

and for the gazillioneth time: labor is not the same as profit.

if a company is not making a profit, it is not a company. it's just JoeShittheRagMan building stuff in his garage.

I don't think 99.5% of the people who tell what a job cost them to do entertain their labor costs even at minimum wage levels. nor do they include tool up, research & development, phone calls utility costs ad nauseum bring me to the conclusion they have no fricken idea what it costs even though they'll brag to their beer drinking buddies how much money they save over buying something from XYZ company - those dirty pirates!

edit: for the cliff notes version, read posts #22 - 25 https://www.expeditionportal.com/fo...interior-cabinetry.195319/page-2#post-2508123
 
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s.e.charles

Well-known member
...

The tool guy says the cheap Chinese guns get returned all the time as they fail quickly however I am the only idiot who will spend $65.00 once a good heat gun once instead of $14.99 5 times for a cheap Chinese gun.
...
I think a component of that entire process is the "no questions asked return policy". HD is running a rental agency under the guise of a retail establishment. tools only fail After the job is completed.
 

ArkansasDon

Observer
overhead is what cost a business: expenses include accounting fees, advertising, insurance, interest, legal fees (licensing, bonds), labor burden, rent or bank loans payments for the building, equipment & building repairs, supplies, taxes, telephone bills, travel expenditures & utilities. I own a business in the firearm industry (not sales) & to stay in business is to sell a product that supersedes your competitor's. What other hindrance's to business pricing is government regulations whether domestic or over-sea's sales. In the industry I am in, I deal with illegal shops who do not have a overhead nor the cost factor of what it does take to run a legal shop & follow legal business practices. These do take sales away (small %) & set a somewhat low balling pricing on the market. I even see this with garage built overlanding trailers. Facebook is loaded with these shops on groups advertising these trailers
 

vintageracer

To Infinity and Beyond!
Codes, regulations and standards = Liability

Liability is something "Fly By Night" or illegal shops never consider or have to deal with the ramifications as a result of their actions.
 

GkraneTX

Active member
I guess my misunderstanding comes from looking at a teardrop style trailer made by a small/family business that uses an all aluminum frame, an all aluminum cage for the box, aluminum floor, skinned in aluminum cost so much less than another small business that produces the same size trailer using a steel or aluminum frame, but then uses wood to build the upper frame and box and skins it with aluminum but charges 15k more. I'm not complaining at all, just trying to understand the industry and make informed choices.
 

Chi-Town

The guy under the car
You have a few things that come into play building a trailer as a low production company.

Labor costs = Usually 100-200 hours @ $25-30/hr. That's probably being conservative.

Material costs = Small low volume companies pay anywhere from 10-20% more for materials than the high volume guys do.

Engineering = Someone has to program the CNC router to cut consistent patterns and insure proper fitment. If you don't have a CNC router than this cost gets added to your labor.

Overhead = I lumped the rest together in here but it includes Rent/Mortgage/Building overhead and said costs, Marketing / Advertising, Accounting, Sales men/women (even if you do it on on our own it costs time and time=money), and every other little bill that pops up when you own a small business.

If you do some basic math the average mark-up is probably around 30-40% which is the standard in the RV industry. If you make less than 30% you're wasting your time unless it's just something you really love to do.

As for the difference in cost from one company to another, well one may not be as good at negotiating material costs, they may have more guys (aka more labor costs) on the production floor to make trailers faster, or they could be based out of CA and just paying out the nose in regulatory fees and higher property costs :LOL:
 

john61ct

Adventurer
That small family business is likely not making enough profit to be sustainable long term.

But when you see a bargain like that snap it up
 

MavDaddy

New member
I think it's great the usually chintzy poor quality US industry is starting to step up its game.
Maybe just maybe we are FINALLY getting over the Wal Mart effect that so many consumer's in this country have accepted for so many years where it's all about PRODUCT PRICE with little to NO regard for PRODUCT QUALITY!

Ya us Americans SAY we want quality however when it comes time SPEND our own money it's all about the PRICE! Quality all of sudden ain't that damn important!

Example:

Went to look for a heat gun at Home Depot 10 years ago when they had the tool section separated from the rest of the stuff. No heat gun so I asked for one. Tool guy says they are under lock and key and would get one for me. Milwaukee branded, made in Germany and $65.00. Is this all ya got? Nope! Go to the paint department they have 5 others!

Go to paint department and sure enough 5 more heat guns. Price $14.99-$29.99. ALL CHINESE manufactured with 2 of the 5 branded Milwaukee!

Went back to the tool shed and picked up the expensive Milwaukee. Asked the sales clerk when was the last time they sold one of these expensive heat guns? He said I can't remember! So why are they under lock and key? Nobody buy's em they just STEAL em so now they are under lock and key!

I still have the expensive German made Milwaukee brand heat gun and still it works great after 10 years. Ironically the cheap Chinese made heat guns had a higher heat rating than the German made gun.

The tool guy says the cheap Chinese guns get returned all the time as they fail quickly however I am the only idiot who will spend $65.00 once a good heat gun once instead of $14.99 5 times for a cheap Chinese gun.

It's all about the money!

Concerning Teardrop Trailers:

LABOR costs money and guys who fabricate Teardrop Trailers are not $10.00 an hour guys. Do the math! At the end of the day these trailers are produced by "Cottage Industry" small business companies with according to all the Economists makes up 70% of the US Economy. Small business's do not get all the government welfare tax breaks, buying power and economies of scale that the Fortune 500 companies enjoy.

WHY IS THAT????

If it takes 2 weeks (10 business days) for ALL fabrication, assembly and delivery process for a Teardrop trailer that alone is 80 hours of labor by people who earn a lot more than $10/hour. Add in design costs, cost of parts, hourly employee wages, office help, facility cost/rent, tooling, tools, environmental costs, business licenses, product liability insurance, employee benefits, unemployment insurance, warranty repair costs and on and on! ADD to the top of ALL THAT the dreaded word PROFIT that no customer wants to pay and that trailer gets REAL EXPENSIVE REAL FAST!

Look at the cost of a Teardrop Trailer from the perspective of a Small Business Owner making Teardrop Trailers who is responsible EVERY WEEK for "Making a Payroll" rather than looking at the cost of Teardrop Trailer from the perspective an "Employee" who just put in my 40 hours and "Draws a Paycheck" for their income with NO concern whatsoever if that small company they work for sold anything or made any money that week!

Good thing we still have American Entrepreneur's out there willing to risk it all for their Passion and Profit!
Vintage racer, very well said! We are in the process of finalizing our design, and will be releasing our first to-market TD in about three months. I have three full time employees, pay taxes, and all the over head with a shop etc. We have been researching, building, rebuilding, tweaking, etc for almost 6 months, and haven’t even released our first model yet. I’ve built 5 trailers over the years for friends and family and am finally taking the jump to go to market. You’re completely correct about wages. Our least expensive employee makes north of $25.90 per hour. These guys have years of woodworking experience, and it gets expensive fast. Our median trailer will shoot for the 21k price point and will compete with Moby1, but will have a full galley unlike Oregon Trail’r. I’m not saying one is better than the other, it’s just our personal design preferences. If anyone would like a serious look, dm me! Stay tuned!


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