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Thread: Water Bottle Manufacturer Frustrations

  1. #1

    Water Bottle Manufacturer Frustrations

    Hello Everyone!

    Long time lurker and thanks to everyone for all of the knowledge I have gained from reading this forum.

    I have engraved many different gift items over the years and water bottles have been one of the most popular. Yeti products are the most coveted but a minority because of the expense and difficulty to add a reasonable markup. I have used several other vendors but there always seems to be limitations with color/size combinations or what manufacturers offer through a resale program. I like the RTIC and Mira products but again, the available colors and wholesale issues make it hard to fill a small order or match a previous one.

    Does anybody have suggestions for manufacturers or other ideas? I spent a considerable amount of time and $$$ looking for overseas manufacturers but their minimum orders are too large for me. My idea was to bring in bare stainless steel bottles and have them powder coated locally to whatever colors and quantities were needed to fill an order. It was expensive but still less than the cost of a wholesale product. I have literally begged JDS to add water bottles to their Polar Camel line, both at trade shows and on the phone. They told me at least year's NBM show the bottles were coming soon but it's been more than a year and still no changes.

    Any help/advice/war stories would be sincerely appreciated!!!

    Take Care,
    Mike.

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    Michael Vlietstra
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  2. #2
    I wish I could help. I am in this situation as well so maybe someone else has found a solution. Everyone in my area loves their Hydroflasks but they aren't accepting new retailers and their bulk discount is only 15%.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Vlietstra View Post

    I have literally begged JDS to add water bottles to their Polar Camel line, both at trade shows and on the phone. They told me at least year's NBM show the bottles were coming soon but it's been more than a year and still no changes.

    Any help/advice/war stories would be sincerely appreciated!!!
    JDS just released their Polar Camel sublimation bottles, and I've heard that the powder coated laserable ones are a couple of months out, so there may be hope there. Other than that, I've talked to Fifty Fifty Bottles at a conference before. They seem to have a very nice product, and do wholesale pricing as well, so might take a look at them and see if they would work for what you are doing.
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  4. #4
    One of my customers ordered some Yeti's, for the specific purpose of reselling them with his logo on them. Yeti told him the only way they would allow that is if THEY do the engraving. But that's only one catch, the other is that this guy wanted a second abbreviated logo on the other side. But Yeti don't do that. They engrave anything within a specific area on the 'front' side, only. (I assume this is so they can teach the turnaround help how to run the machine, if it fits in the layout box just press the start button ) But, it's okay with Yeti for him to pay a second engraver to do the second logo, as long as they get paid to do the first...

    I've engraved a lot of Yeti's, RTIC's Hydroflasks, SIC's and many other brands, but I'll never buy one to resell, I only do 'drop-off's.

    Speaking of SIC's, (Seriously Ice Cold) have you found those in your travels? Had a lady bringing me those on occasion, they're very nice cups-- Google them if you haven't heard of them , half their websites that come up are 'we want retailers!' ads- No clue as to pricing-
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah Fischer View Post
    I wish I could help. I am in this situation as well so maybe someone else has found a solution. Everyone in my area loves their Hydroflasks but they aren't accepting new retailers and their bulk discount is only 15%.
    Yes, the Hydroflasks are a great product but discovered the same problem with their reseller program. I engrave customer-supplied products but find it difficult to make a reasonable profit for individual jobs. Supplying the products also provides another source of income.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Kev Williams View Post
    One of my customers ordered some Yeti's, for the specific purpose of reselling them with his logo on them. Yeti told him the only way they would allow that is if THEY do the engraving. But that's only one catch, the other is that this guy wanted a second abbreviated logo on the other side. But Yeti don't do that. They engrave anything within a specific area on the 'front' side, only. (I assume this is so they can teach the turnaround help how to run the machine, if it fits in the layout box just press the start button ) But, it's okay with Yeti for him to pay a second engraver to do the second logo, as long as they get paid to do the first...

    I've engraved a lot of Yeti's, RTIC's Hydroflasks, SIC's and many other brands, but I'll never buy one to resell, I only do 'drop-off's.

    Speaking of SIC's, (Seriously Ice Cold) have you found those in your travels? Had a lady bringing me those on occasion, they're very nice cups-- Google them if you haven't heard of them , half their websites that come up are 'we want retailers!' ads- No clue as to pricing-

    Yes, I see more of the manufacturer offer engraving services as well and I don't blame them for adding the service. Most of the ones I see are limited in what they'll engrave but I bet that will change.

    If I may ask, what do you charge to engrave a "drop-off? Between artwork creation, customer approvals (emails/text back and forth), setup, and engraving time it's difficult to make the job worthwhile. Unless you're charging $30-$40 to engrave but I don't see my customers willing to pay that kind of $$$.

    I had not heard of SICs, will check out their website.

    Thanks for the information!
    Mike.

  7. #7
    Thanks, I saw the JDS email for the Polar Camel sublimation bottles but concerned with how the imprint would last from customer abuse. Plus I don't trust my dye-sub skills/technique for such an expensive product.

    I hear the same thing for JDS water bottles all of the time but nothing has changed in over a year. They would be the best answer so it's frustrating to wait for them. Their color selection is the best of all the manufacturers and they make it easy to fill additional orders.

    Thanks for the Fifty Fifty recommendation, I will check out their information.

    Mike.

  8. #8
    My two cents--if you're a home-based business, carrying inventory will generally be counterproductive; especially for typical Yeti type items. I do not sell this type of cup for two reasons: I don't want to invest in inventory and I feel that the margins are too low.

    My customers provide the art work so all I have to do is set up the job. That's quick and easy. My largest customer ships from 24 to 100 pieces to me at a time. The engraving is all the same for each order. I charge extra for two sides and more for personalization. I keep the art size to 2.5" inches square or charge extra.

    I don't do onesies at any price. I charge $1.00 extra for Walmart stuff because of their labels. Most of my customers are repeat so I generally charge under $10 for one side engraving. I charge 50 cents more for Cermark.
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  9. #9
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    I'll toss out that as a home based, I'll order JDS cups at a minimal markup and a decent engraving price. I don't try to stock any.

    I just finished up an order of 40 mini Yeti cups (they are about 10 ounce and cute as a button) and charged $10 for one side with changing initials.
    Not much of a pain as it sounds as the customer had a page for each set and I just copied and pasted into center and then sent to laser. I didn't have any free time, but unpacked, lasered, cleaned and packaged back in the 2.4 minutes it took for each including setting up next file. Decent order.

    I charge $20 for individual cup one side, and $5 more for other side. And I have just about set a $20 bill as a minimum for ANY individual item I engrave. Just not worth setup time even if just simple text.
    And I've had MANY customer say 'Is that all you are charging?" Each time I hear that, I work to go up on my prices.

    BTW, I've missed a 500 piece order from this same customer as I won't go below a price point. Just isn't worth it. Guess I need to buy the new 100 watt fiber cup machine that a Cermark dealer is hawking for $35K. NOT!
    I don't think I could pay for that baby for a LONG time!
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  10. #10
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    Marco has some water bottles.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Null View Post
    My two cents--if you're a home-based business, carrying inventory will generally be counterproductive; especially for typical Yeti type items. I do not sell this type of cup for two reasons: I don't want to invest in inventory and I feel that the margins are too low.

    My customers provide the art work so all I have to do is set up the job. That's quick and easy. My largest customer ships from 24 to 100 pieces to me at a time. The engraving is all the same for each order. I charge extra for two sides and more for personalization. I keep the art size to 2.5" inches square or charge extra.

    I don't do onesies at any price. I charge $1.00 extra for Walmart stuff because of their labels. Most of my customers are repeat so I generally charge under $10 for one side engraving. I charge 50 cents more for Cermark.

    Thanks for your information, it's always a great help to learn how other people price their work.

    I agree with not carrying inventory on products as expensive as Yeti, not a good way to tie up money. I've been using products from Mira that are well reviewed on Amazon and it was easy to get started with them as a reseller. The bottles are nice with a good color range but not all of the colors are available in their wholesale program. It's frustrating when a customer sees their products and wants to order a color that's not available to me at wholesale. They have a 25oz. wide-mouth bottle that comes with two cap styles for $12 each in quantities of 24. I can easily sell them at $30 with engraving a name or monogram. I send one proof via text or email and then it's engraved.

    Good specs on the large orders, I love those jobs but they're few and far between. Your Cermark pricing seems low for the cost of the material and the additional time for application/cleaning, do you have a lot of orders on bare stainless? I'm not a Cermark fan, probably because I haven't developed a good technique/workflow. It's very inconsistent to me, I've had orders with a fair number of pieces and they'll be random problems for no apparent reason. I believe much of my problem is from variations in Cermark thickness.

    Mike.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by John Lifer View Post
    I'll toss out that as a home based, I'll order JDS cups at a minimal markup and a decent engraving price. I don't try to stock any.

    I just finished up an order of 40 mini Yeti cups (they are about 10 ounce and cute as a button) and charged $10 for one side with changing initials.
    Not much of a pain as it sounds as the customer had a page for each set and I just copied and pasted into center and then sent to laser. I didn't have any free time, but unpacked, lasered, cleaned and packaged back in the 2.4 minutes it took for each including setting up next file. Decent order.

    I charge $20 for individual cup one side, and $5 more for other side. And I have just about set a $20 bill as a minimum for ANY individual item I engrave. Just not worth setup time even if just simple text.
    And I've had MANY customer say 'Is that all you are charging?" Each time I hear that, I work to go up on my prices.

    BTW, I've missed a 500 piece order from this same customer as I won't go below a price point. Just isn't worth it. Guess I need to buy the new 100 watt fiber cup machine that a Cermark dealer is hawking for $35K. NOT!
    I don't think I could pay for that baby for a LONG time!
    Thanks for more pricing info, extremely helpful to me!

    I don't stock any JDS products (except for the extras that have to be ordered because of QC problems...). I'm extremely fortunate to have a warehouse 30 minutes away so that's huge help.

    Good pricing on the mini-Yetis and nice labor rate from hustling through the job. I don't mind changing simple artwork on each product as long as I can pile it into a multi-page CorelDRAW document.

    I have the same $20 minimum pricing but not the same response from customers. Some people are OK but most are just looking for the cheapest price. I made a golf tee name tag (from JDS) for my neighbor with a custom logo and a great price for his golfing club. His comment? "That's more than I THINK they should be." I was so fried that I threw everything in the trash and ended the conversation. As always, no good deed goes unpunished.

    Mike.

  13. #13
    Just FYI. 32oz Polar Camel Water Bottles just went up on the JDS website.

  14. #14
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    I'll throw out another datum point that I got from a local guy today that was 'shopping' for pricing. 300 koozie order. Engraving 2x3" roughly. So about what is normal on a 20 oz. Nice large order for me.
    $5 per cup. (Yes, I think that is low, but I've missed a number of 200 to 500 piece orders for $6 to 8 and dropped a bit for this.) .

    "OH NO! I can't go that much, I want to stay local with engraving, but I can get them done for $2.80 per cup"
    OK, I might can go to $4, but nowhere near $3. "No, I can't do $4, has to be closer to $3."

    Too bad, won't be me. I'll not unbox cups, take of label, engrave, clean, rebox for under $4. I don't work for $30 an hour gross.
    Wife couldn't believe it, but I told him this outright. Guess I lost that business.... Good. I'd rather let machine sit.

    Sorry. Go to the other guy.

    He was hesitant and guess thought I would drop to his other vendor's price, or was rethinking, as other guy might be 2 months out......
    Oh well. This is where those high speed machines are soon taking us. A minute to engrave VS 3 or so. And if they do in house, no dealing with unpackaging and repackaging.

    Ha, just got call from the folks I mentioned in the first reply to this thread the other day. Seems they sent me the 10oz, VS 12 oz cups. So I get to do that one over at $10 a cup.
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  15. #15
    I've had many people- family mostly - tell me I work too cheap. But I've always had this little voice in my head that says to me "ya know, $25 an hour beats the hell out of $0 per hour, especially when there's machines available!

    My worst $ per hour job ever went on for 8 years, then fiber lasers came to town. And what used to be $1.50 for 6 minutes albatross tool engraving job turned into $3.00 per minute cash cow --and they don't get any easier; take out of the box, put a couple on the machine, take 'em off, done, repeat... Then the guy sold the company last year , and the new owner figured out how to actually sell the things, at about a 6:1 ratio over previous sales. What used to eat up a lot of machine time and barely blip my books has turned into my 4th highest gross customer... Wish I could say it would always work out like that, but it does happen!
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