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Prefinishing shop

2797 Views 11 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  RCP
Hey Scott, how's the prefinishing business going. I've been contemplating for the last year to set up such a shop. My first target market was steel exterior doors at the home centers. Inform the employees about pushing me (of course with a finders fee) spray it and deliver it. But,this past summer I did a considerable amount of prefinishing of case,base,crown,prehung doors for a couple of builder buddys and so now I'm considering an op like yours. Nice website by the way. Here in cheesehead country (WI) these shops are pretty non-existant. My question, who's your target market, whats your average linear foot pricing (not that I'll get even close to that in the midwest) stain/finish,paint. How bout interior doors?

I'm on my 5th year, halfway "out of the bucket", just don't fill it up on me:eek:
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Hey Small

We built ours 5 years ago with our contractor clientele in mind. Its mostly been offered to builders that we work for on large projects. We also do occasional stuff for other customers as well. It is a nice option to have, and does require some manpower to unload/load truckloads of lumber and move the stuff around.

Linear pricing is specific to the task and each task is so different that an average wouldn't apply to much in particular. Some applications can be 20 cents per lineal and we have had others that were $3. Depends on the wood, the finish, number of coats, dry times, etc.
After you have prefinished say 3000 ln ft of trim and 12 doors, what is your procedure for shipping it back to the job. Do you wrap it in plastic wrap, bubble wrap? Do your builders usually deliver and pick up?
After you have prefinished say 3000 ln ft of trim and 12 doors, what is your procedure for shipping it back to the job. Do you wrap it in plastic wrap, bubble wrap? Do your builders usually deliver and pick up?
We dont do much volume in doors, just the occasional custom door. Doors are a transportation challenge.

On lumber, we deliver.
Hey thanks for the info.. 20 cents..I hope thats 1/2" quarter round you'd lose that in paint to the shop walls. LOL. I was figuring on average for lets say average 2 3/4" base: sand - stain - finish - 120 grit sand - finish; pickup and delivery $.60 a lineal. Am I in your ballpark?
How's the pivot pro stands my mouth is watering about the space savings.
I know its a common theme here on painttalk, but it totally depends on your production rates. I dont know enough about your shop set up in terms of rack systems, heat, air circulation and most importantly the efficiency and diligence of the people applying the finishes. Everything about the way you receive, sort, organize, finish, dry, bundle, load and transport the materials comes into play. Keep in mind that builders are used to paying 10-15 cents per lineal for factory preprimed stuff, so 60 can be high to them, but 60 can be really tight for you because of all the aforementioned factors that come into play in production prefinishing.

On the labor side, shop work can be incredibly mindless, tedious and repetitive. Thats why I am good at such an operation. Having people in the shop who can keep their heads in the game is key. I know personally the rage that sets in when you have rocked out 2000 feet of something and theres 8000 more sitting there and the pile isnt getting any smaller. Not to discourage you, just keeping it real. It is a great service to offer. I would suggest taking a small quantity of something like the typical base profile you mentioned and running 1000 ft of it at a price you feel comfortable with and job cost the crap out of it. It may help to focus on the materials that builders cant get factory preprimed.
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It looks as though the service side does not exceed basic production rates as with a line operation..I believe I need to narrow my questioning. ( I sound like a reporter) How small of an operation is too small to atleast make a decent profit margin while providing a value added service for these guys? Basically, are these guys looking at the higher quality aspect of the service, which we see, or the convenience, or both? I know you mentioned in a previous thread you are looking to invest in, I believe you said a 16'enclosed trailer for delivery. It sounds as if these guys are looking for the service aspect, which should demand a higher price. This is mostly a generalized questioning than price structure analysis. I need to do my math and analysis for my part of the country so this more out of curiosity. In laymens terms, is it worth it to you?

Last question for sure.
I'm actually on a wireless laptop at a customers house giving my presentation.. he's in the can stinking up the whole house. Older customers what a treat... I should yell turn on the fan and spray in there!!!:help:

I don't mind the might be more helpful to have a phone conversation at some point, as I still don't know where you are at in your process.

A shop service of any size can be profitable, it depends on who you are serving. If you are taking 10s of thousands of feet directly from lumber distributors, you need to be set up for lower priced volume. If you are doing smaller batches for custom builders, the smaller your operation the better you control costs and quality.

In terms of what they are looking for in quality, they can get cedar clapboard siding prestained with Cabot from the factory for 15 cents per lineal. The siding is passed through a machine and a dryer and quickly ready to load on a truck for delivery. You will not be able to compete with that, no matter how much better your Cabot is or how custom your application methods are. Its a niche market that depends on figuring out the materials that they are unable to get factory prefinished and focusing heavily on those things. If there is enough demand for those items, you have a good thing.

As to delivery, we have done it a number of ways over the years, using a combination of our trucks, various trailers, lumber trucks and even hiring a moving company to transport large quantities of extremely fragile product. I wouldnt recommend investing in hard core delivery rigs up front until your initial set up and operation costs are recovered. For me, after 5 years it got to the point where it was as much for our convenience as the customers. However, the builder still doesnt ultimately care if common products show up prefinished from the factory in a curtain truck or prefinished from us on trucks and trailer, and that decision is usually based on cost. Having observed enough of the factory prefinish delivery system on job sites over the years, I found their weaknesses and made them our strengths. There are alot of little aspects of the process that we do, that the factories are not doing. It would be imprudent to lay that all out in this format, but if you put this idea into action seriously, I could offer more advice.
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Thanks for all the info and your time. I believe it really comes down to the niche as you said. Developing the relationships with the builders and establishing their needs.
Seeing if you can fullfill them at a price point that can be executed in your operation. Hey thanks again, I really appreciate your professional advice.

Thats the way to look at it, and if the niche is there, you can definitely make it profitable. Give a shout if you have more questions as you pursue it.
This is interesting, I just posted a thread on prefinished trim, then decided to search!:whistling2:
So how about the other end, painting a house with it? Does it really save time? Provide a better quality? What are the pros and cons?
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