Have you ever seen an awesome survival or outdoor gear product on the shelf at your local outdoor outfitter big box store and wish you could afford it? A $300 knife, or a $400 sleeping bag. A $1000 tent, or a plastic tote or cooler for $500. I mean, holy hell, that’s expensive. But do you know WHY it’s so expensive?
It’s not why you think. You might think it costs more to manufacture or that the product is that good. But is it really? And while that’s partly true, it’s not the whole story. (it never is)
Here’s the deal. There are middlemen. Middlemen charge a markup on products. The more middlemen there are (between the manufacturer and the consumer) the higher the price. Everyone wants their “fair’ share of the pie. It doesn’t matter what it is, there’s always a middleman and there’s always a markup.
And…technically that’s how it’s supposed to work in a capitalist society. There’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with making a fair profit. The question is, how much profit is fair? How much can a company mark a product up before it becomes price gouging? As much as the “market will bear”? How much is that? It depends.
Now, a simple low markup of 50% is great, right? For whom? When you figure by the time that item gets to the big box stores or local retailer, it’s been marked up 2 times at least. Even though the big box store might buy direct from the manufacturer there is markup from the manufacturer. DUH! Right? But what you may not know is, some manufacturers markup their items 500% to 1000% or even more!
Yup! That super-duper cooler you paid $500 for. Yeah, they manufacture it for a fraction of that price overseas. While some are manufactured here in the USA, most are made in China and there’s massive profits to be made.
The manufacturers will argue the point and say “It’s expensive to manufacture. We have to pay for machines, moulds, and labor, and legal and marketing and…” blah blah blah. It’s al true of course…but they’re not being completely honest. It still costs much much less to manufacture a product than they let everyone believe it costs.
China made products aren’t all bad. For example, your cellphone and laptop computer were most likely made in China. You use them everyday and there’s rarely a problem because it’s good quality. Right? So yeah, you can still get good quality products overseas.
The issue is when manufacturers markup their products way more than what most people would call “fair”.
Is 200% or 300% markup fair? Sure. That sounds expensive, but it’s not.
For example. You have to recoup the cost of production. So, if an item costs $10 to produce then you have to charge $10 just to break even. If you want to make a nice profit you mark up the item 2 times. Most times the markup is 200-300% and that seems to be the magic number. So that $10 item is now $20 or $30. The wholesale/distributor buys from the manufacturer and marks it up another 10%, 20%, 30% or more depending on what the market will bear. The dealer then buys from the wholesaler and marks it up another 100% to 300% or more depending on the cost from the wholesaler/distributor.
That’s fine because manufacturing, materials, labor, marketing, labeling, branding etc. That all costs money and has to be factored in, and then the company has to make a profit to continue to grow. But is 500% to 1000% markup a “fair” price to pay? I think that’s when people start to think twice, or should think twice before paying an outrageous amount for a product that cost a fraction of that amount to produce.
A perfect example is knives. (no, not custom knives) Simply speaking, a knife is technically a piece of sharpened metal with a handle. Usually wood or plastic, bone or antler, micarta (fiber), G10, or other similar material. But really, a knife is just a piece of metal. It doesn’t cost much to manufacture. (unless it’s Damascus steel and even then, it’s not as expensive as people let on)
Even hand made knives. Don’t get me started on the custom knife makers because they’re in a class by themselves. Making a knife by hand is an ART. It’s NOT the same and cannot correctly be compared to manufacturing a knife for profit.
When you buy a custom hand made knife from a custom knife maker you’re paying for their expertise and their time and labor and skill. You’re also buy a work of art, albeit a functioning practical work of art. The point is we’re not talking about custom knives here.
What we’re talking about is making knives for profit and that costs less because machines make them and that’s perfectly fine. I won’t get into the debate of custom knives versus a machine made knife, but I will say this. A custom made knife is a work of art and a machine made knife is made to make money. Period.
What I’m saying is machine made knives ARE NOT WORTH what some companies charge for them.
What costs money is the equipment to manufacture. Labor isn’t that expensive (especially in China) and then you don’t need to spend money on expensive machinery to manufacture. This increases profits exponentially.
The same goes for tents, tarps, sleeping bags, gear bags, backpacks, coolers, kayaks, and such all fall under the same rule. There’s no need to pay $300 for a backpack when a $100 pack is all you need and it’s made from the same exact materials as the $300 pack. It’s all about the “perceived” value of a particular brand.
There’s no need to pay $300 for a knife when a $100 knife will do the job just as well.
1095 steel is still 1095 steel. Micarta is micarta. Wood is wood. Purists will of course ARGUE with that. But the fact remains that a human knife maker cannot match the precision tolerances of a machine.
The science of heat treating is exact. That part is NOT an art. That is a science. Temps and tolerances are measurable and duplicable and testable which makes it a science.
The ART is in the design, the ergonomics, the aesthetics, the balance, the fit and finish and most importantly the “feel” of the knife.
Again…some folks will argue against that but it doesn’t matter, they’re straight up wrong.
Which brings me to my point. Knives and swords are tools that have been forged for thousands of years and they consist of simple materials combined into a practical and effective tool. The raw materials cost considerably less than most people know, and retail knife companies take advantage of that fact by ripping consumers off by overcharging them. Instead of a fair profit, there’s astronomical markup sometimes 10 to 100 times the price of manufacturing.
We can manufacture a quality Bushcraft knife with 1095 or 1075 carbon steel, micarta handle, and leather or Kydex sheath for an affordable price including labor cost.
This includes the cost of tools, machines, equipment and dividing that cost out over the production of 10,000 or even 100,000 knives over the course of 3-5 years. (the average person keeps/uses a knife for about 5 years; keep in mind this is AVERAGE not ALL people. Some people keep their knives for a lifetime) If the knife ever breaks replacement will cost about $125 to $150 retail on average including shipping to replace.
We’re building our own building, our own manufacturing facility and equipment. We’re building our own machines, roto-ovens, moulds, grinders, sanders, water-jets, laser cutters, jigs, and we’re sourcing the raw materials to produce our own line of knives and survival and outdoor gear. We can’t manufacture everything, but most of the necessities you use for survival we can.
Which is why I’ve have decided to offer our Zombi™ branded products with a LIFETIME GUARANTEE!
We will be launching our line of survival and outdoor gear this coming year, starting with knives.
All Zombi™ brand products will come with a LIFETIME GUARANTEE! All Zombi™ brand products will be made from or be recycled and/or recyclable materials.
Trade-in recycle program. You will also be able to trade in your Zombi™ product for a credit toward the purchase price of new models which means you can upgrade your Zombi™ brand products indefinitely.
Zombi™ is our brand for all things survival and outdoor related and we stand behind with quality and service.
A note from the creator of the Zombi™ brand.
“As the creator/founder/owner of ZombiBox I realized something while sourcing products for ZombiBox from suppliers. I could provide more value to my customers by manufacturing my own versions of survival and outdoor gear products. It was a crazy idea, but one that made good financial sense long term. Survival is about long term preparation not just short term profits. By manufacturing my own products this saves me money in production and passes that value and savings on to my customers. They get great gear at a fraction of the price they could get it elsewhere. It allows ZombiBox to provide high quality gear at an affordable price through our own brand. My system and brand is rock solid! I’m seriously tired of the BS from manufacturers telling me they can’t sell me items below a certain cost even though I’m buying at a higher volume that ANY of their other customers. They just say some stupid shit like “that’s our policy” and expect me to accept that and pay them the price they ask. NOPE! I’ll just manufacture my own version of the product. I can operate at a lower cost than my competitors and my customers will buy my products because it gives them more for their money. I worked in the manufacturing business for 5 years, I know what it costs to build a product versus buying a product for resale. And I’ll build it here in the USA keeping American jobs here in the USA. Look, anyone with a computer and an internet connection can figure out the cost of raw materials, labor, and overhead, add it all up and figure out people are getting ripped off by greedy companies in it just for the profit. These companies put profit before the people and people are getting ripped off. So I wanted to bring products to market without the middlemen and the astronomically high markup that most other companies charge. I want to sell my products direct. And my dealers will enjoy a nice profit as well. This also allows me to offer something else other companies can’t or won’t. A LIFETIME GUARANTEE! I do this not just because I believe in the quality of my products but also because it encourages recycling. Our planet is suffering and we’re consuming resources at an alarming rate. We need to recycle more materials. Too many materials get wasted and sent to the landfill. We need to stop that. There’s no reason why we can’t recycle more. As such wherever possible I buy recycled materials and offer an awesome Trade-in program to encourage folks to recycle their Zombi™ branded product and get a credit on their upgrade. This is sustainable business. This is how sustainable business works. Quality products. It’s part of the new economy and I predict it is the future of business. I can afford to charge less for my products because I buy and build and rather the rent or buy for resale. Buying and building sets up a more permanent business structure and one that can offer lower prices long term. For example. A typical 5000 square foot building costs about $1 per square foot per month to rent in our town. That’s $5k per month or $60k per year. Over 10 years that’s $600k dollars in overhead before utilities. Add in utilities and you’re looking at another $3k/month ($36k annually) to run the machines. Add in the production equipment and machines ($1 million at least to start for everything divided out over 10 years is another $100k in overhead annually). You’re looking at $196k annually. Round up to $200k and that’s $2 million in overhead over the course of 10 years. And THAT’S if you only spend $1 million on the manufacturing equipment. So yeah. It’s expensive to manufacture but less expensive than buying for resale if you’re going to do it long term. ZombiBox is about long term survival. If you rent you’re an idiot. Own. Buy and build instead. It costs more up front but the long term expense savings is worth way more. All those things that cost $2 million over 10 years can be paid for with about $250k investment in infrastructure. That’s a MASSIVE savings. Savings that can be passed on to our customers in the form of lower costs for gear and it saves us money long term to put into product research and development. This is why I can afford to charge only $100 for a knife that would otherwise cost $200 somewhere else. It’s also why I can offer a lifetime guarantee on my products. So yeah. This is about giving the most value for my customers. That value creates brand loyalty. My competitors laugh at me, tell me I’m going to go broke. But I’ll be laughing all the way to the bank. They’ll eventually either adopt my way of doing business or they’ll go out of business because they can’t compete. It’s a WIN/WIN for me. For them…not so much. Fuck’em. I don’t care about them. I care about my customers.”
We make EVERYTHING you need to survive your world.