Enclosed trailer mobile set up

bcarty2433bcarty2433 Posts: 18Member
edited October 14 in Business
Okay first off I'mma start by saying that I'm no expert, and I've only been doing this for about 6 or 7 months, while also working a 7 day a week , 13 hr a day job in the oilfield. So don't murder me in your response lol. 
 But anyways, I'm 23 and saw a opportunity, especially out here in the oilfield cause this is where the money's at, and guys here love blowing it on  there hard hats and everything else lol.  So of course I  jumped in headfirst without knowing the first thing about hydrodipping or anything that went into putting out a good, CONSISTANT product. But when I go for something, i go all the way. So long story short, flash forward  6 months to now, I have a 24ft  enclosed trailer  that I have my whole set up in. I bought a 6ft stainless tank that I fabed. Myself with a spa pump and inline heater,and a filter set up with 50 gallon barrel's from the rig. I bought another 4ft s.s tank that I put a bosster pump on and made a circulating rinse station out of. I also  built  a  paint booth that's on shower rods so it is out of the way  when not in use and put in vent fans and all the paint eqimpment. I framed in back ramp opening of trailer and put a door and a bigass  24000 btu window unit/heater for climate control. And a dehumidifier because it didn't take long to figure out that humidity is your worst enemy. 
   I  use one hit wonder paint (or auto paint,primer, clear coat, ). Bought good spray guns. Burned through $500 of film messing stuff up before  I finally  figured out how to set up spray gun/spray activator. Ive bought countless other parts, tools, equipment. Sanders ,big compressor, fans, ventilation fans(I found out quick that those are a must in a trailer set up). And then I went ahead and bought a couple thousand dollars worth of film from a guy that was selling out his inventory for a good deal. I built everything so it's all bolted down, and can be drained and on the road in 30 min or so. But I just wanted to have something that I could take to work and dip for people here. Then take home and dip there also. So far it's working out great.....kinda, im just not busy enough .I've gotten activator, prep , clear and my technic down pretty solid,and I'm putting out a good product. Keep in mind this is all self taught and on my own.(just from reading this forum and watching Jim's videos religiously). So thanks for that buddy lol.  
  So yeah within 6 months im now in all  and all for about $30000. Ive paid cash for everything and I'm still working my job so  I'm not hurting or anything, but my question is,, Is there things I could be doing better on the P. R side or advertising better. I have FB page, Tailgate vynal wrapped and have alot of word of mouth , but it just seems alot slower than what I was shooting for. I know I'm just starting out, but I guess what I'm asking is, in y'all's opinion,is this set up and what I got going  something that Has potential for working? Or am I going about it all wrong. I know there's no "wrong way" as long as it works. But I just wanna know if I need to change some stuff up before it gets to late, or keep on keeping on and ride it out. Just trying to fix anything that needs fixed and see what  y'all's feed back /suggestions for me would be.  keeping in mind that ALL OF MY MONEY AND TIME has went into this venture, so giving up is not a option. Thank y'all, looking forward to seeing what yall thank. 
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Comments

  • studebakerstudebaker Posts: 3,436Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    Woo Hoo! A full-size question... I love it. Most newbie questions are "What do you recommend, I can't use the search bar my fingers are broken". :)

    A great philosopher once wrote: "Times they are a changin'" To do stuff for your facebook friends, co-workers and family are great but won't pay the bills. You will have to market on a website like Shopify, eBay, etc a product that will get ordered straight from the website, like hard hats. You can't do walk-in business out of a trailer. :-( (besides if you were to wait on walkin business, you would also go broke).

    That website that you built... You will have to market it like theres no tomorrow. I mean like putting major amounts of time building it and telling the whole world about it. You will need to put in a minimum of 4 hours a day on the computer making your brand something that people will order from. Steel-toed boots with an oilfield camo pattern sounds like a good start.

    By the way, Welcome to the forum.





  • bcarty2433bcarty2433 Posts: 18Member
    Thank you I appreciate it. And thats along the lines of what I was kind thinking. And I get a great oilfield camo from twn rn! Heres that oilfield camo on a hard hat I dipped. Customer wanted it alot darker so I did some airbrush shading for him. I've dialed in my clear coat application since then also.
  • bcarty2433bcarty2433 Posts: 18Member
    I really like that camo you posted above also. Is that available through you?
  • NotSoFastNotSoFast Posts: 3,461Member, Moderator El Moderator
    Is the trailer just where you happen to do this or are you trying to haul it places to dip on-site?

    Profiting in this business seems to be hit or miss from my perspective. We put the word out for a few years now and (around here, anyway) there doesn't seem to be much of a market for dips. Everyone thinks it's a gimmick or an unnecessary luxury item. Too expensive, either way. But, we don't have a huge aftermarket custom car culture or a lot of people with money burning holes in their pockets, either. They ask how much to dip their shotgun stock and they say they can buy one already dipped for that price...things like that. Your chance of success seems to depend on what kinds of potential customers you have locally and your ability to market yourself to those outside your immediate area. How well that would work as far as putting money in your pockets, I don't know. We haven't been able to make it work for us, but we are a sign shop, so we are still making money with our various other things we do here. We sell a ton of signs, banners, business cards, vehicle graphics, and wraps, but can't give away hydrographics dips. I hope you have more luck with it than us.
  • bcarty2433bcarty2433 Posts: 18Member
    I hear ya. The reason I went with the trailer set up was because I'm at work in west tx 80%of the time and it was convenient to pull back and forth. My plan was to be mostly doing oilfield dips, I. E hard hats , truck trims , so on witch I have done alot of. But it's slowing done. I like studebakers input and am prolly about to put my focus toward that.
  • MidOhioHydrographicsMidOhioHydrographics Posts: 10,131Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    edited October 14
    We get a lot of people wanting to do it for custom work, and it's a hard road. Find repeat business, and I'm not meaning just "oil field guys." Find a company/business that wants all 2000 of their employees to have matching hard hats (not exactly that, but you get the point). I do have to be a bit of a downer, just to warn you of a few things before you get to far into this, because what you are doing is not legal on numerous fronts. You have the potential to be shut down. And since you're already doing business around the oil fields, which are already watched by EPA and other regulatory agencies, I would be careful.

    Here are some things I had to do for my production-level business where I employ a total of 8 people, full time, 55 hours a week, doing nothing but hydrographics. I had to do it right, because being shut down for non-compliance would put a lot of people out of work.
    1. Wastewater Permitting: I would venture to guess you have no permit to dump any of your waste water anywhere. If you're moving place to place, you will need to be permitted to dump it where you are. Into a sewer (city water treatment) or into rain runoff (bad news, EPA gets involved).
    2. Paint booth permitting/air quality control: I had to get a PTIO (Permit To Install And Operate) for each emissions source through the Ohio EPA. If someone finds out you're spraying solvents as a business without permits? Get ready for fines. TX will have their own laws.
    3. General business permits and licensing: Federal tax ID, Incorporating, and Vendor's License for Ohio.
    4. Liability Insurance: You've already stated you're decorating safety equipment. Do you have any testing that proves your process (exposing to solvents) does not compromise the integrity of the helmet? Are you willing to bet your life savings on it? You will need good liability insurance for when one of your products is involved in an accident.
    5. Traffic and business laws regarding chemicals in a trailer: You'll have to look into this one yourself. I know shipping solvent based chemicals requires special training. No idea what kind of permits you need for your exact situation.
    Again, I don't want to rain on your parade. I just want to try and be sure you know what kind of potential threats are out there.

    As far as gaining more business... It's a tough road. We decided early on to focus on production level accounts, we we routinely do thousands of parts a week. It was the right choice for us, but you are in a different market all together. Check into taking your trailer to auto shows and take orders there. Outdoor and firearm shows as well (but you will probably want your FFL, and that requires a brick & mortar location).
  • MidOhioHydrographicsMidOhioHydrographics Posts: 10,131Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    I should rephrase... and I apologize for assuming... I actually have no idea if you have already looked into all of that! LOL! I should have asked. Honestly, I hope that you have and everything is 100% fine. Just really trying to help, and if you do indeed have all your affairs in order, then maybe you could share some insight on what you had to go through, so that others can also benefit from the knowledge.
  • bcarty2433bcarty2433 Posts: 18Member
    edited October 14
    Well about that..... I knew there where going to be alot of hoops to jump through, but no idea that many. Like I said I jumped in head first and had nooooooo idea how much went into it and how hard it was going to be untill after I was a thousands of dollars in. And at that point I knew there was no turning back so I continued sinking money into it. I have no problem getting all the permits and everything you mentioned above. I was just waiting untill I knew if it was going to be a Viable businnes for me. I didn't think that the anyone would be Really coming after me out here. Hell, I dipped a law enforcments shotgun a couple weeks ago. 😅. But I really do appreciate the Info and I have already started looking into all that. But it's kinda starting to look ,,and sound like it's rocky /expensive road im on
    Post edited by bcarty2433 on
  • WileECoyoteWileECoyote Posts: 7,192Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    That liability thing for helmets is going to be a HUGE problem for you. Safety equipment cannot be modified in any way. Of course its only going to be a problem if someone asks... (or God forbid has an accident) but at that point it will be too late. I would tell your customers that these are for decoration only. You DON'T want to mess with OSHA
  • MidOhioHydrographicsMidOhioHydrographics Posts: 10,131Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    Just something to think about and be aware of. There are thousands of people running businesses under the radar, and now you're a little more knowledgeable than they are. I'm not saying you should go do all this next week, just think about it and decide what level of risk you are comfortable with. No business is without risk.
  • NotSoFastNotSoFast Posts: 3,461Member, Moderator El Moderator
    I guess the "mobile" aspect has me puzzled. Due to the time it takes to properly prep, paint, dry, dip, rinse, dry, clear coat, and cure a part, it doesn't seem to be a process conducive to a mobile platform. Assuming the mobile part would be to facilitate the quick turn over of the item.

    Another thing is the (very) limited income based on unique one-off's as opposed to contract work where you would have many similar items to be decorated in a like fashion. This lends itself to a better work flow and more profitability. I can't imagine how long it would take to recoup $30k doing individual hardhats and such. At a $20 true "profit", you'd have to dip 1500 of them just to break even. That's not including the extra fuel needed to haul a huge, heavy trailer across Texas.

    Please take this with a grain of salt. I have always been called "negative" in my demeanor. I see it as "skeptical" or "cautious"..."realistic" is my preferred term, though.
  • smedlinsmedlin Posts: 2,235Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    @NotSoFast , I think you might have misread things... or I misread, one or the other.

    he works in the oil fields.. those guys don't "live" out there..they go there for weeks (and months) at a time, then go home for a month or so.. back and forth.. back and forth.

    I think he created his shop in a trailer, so he can take his shop with him when he goes to "work".. then when it's time to go home (weeks later), he can take it home.

    This way, he can dip no matter if he's "deployed" or if he's at home.
  • bcarty2433bcarty2433 Posts: 18Member
    edited October 15
    Smedlin, that's exactly what the plan was. I'm also planning on building a website and selling hard hats, yeti's, and what not . I think by doing that, I'll put myself  in the best position to make it work. 
  • bcarty2433bcarty2433 Posts: 18Member
    And like I said,I do have other income so I'm ok if it takes awhile to get it all up and going good. And hell, even if it never gets to where I'm slammed with work and behind I'd be ok. I mean I would love for it to get like that, don't get me wrong . But if it just stays a side business, bringing in a little  Xtra income, I could live with that cause I enjoy doing it. But I'm still gonna do every thing I can to try and make it take off,And I feel like , for me, this is my best route. 
  • smedlinsmedlin Posts: 2,235Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    @bcarty2433 btw, where ya from?

    and I knew what your trying to do, cause I have several friends who work out there in West Texas also. So I know how their living arrangements/work schedule is.
  • TroubleTrouble Posts: 454Member ✭✭✭
    You probably won’t want to here this but I have been there done that. The only difference is I was in the offshore  oilfield. I was a chief engineer on support ships and jack ups. If you want your business to succeed it needs all of your time and attention. Not sure what you do but you business will never make you what the oilfield can. 2 years ago I left during the slow down been regretting it ever since.
  • WileECoyoteWileECoyote Posts: 7,192Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    The hard had and Yeti market will get saturated in your area, and guys are already cutting each other's throats to sell a cup. To make any sort of money, you need production accounts... and those don't like to wait for you to get done with your regular job first.

    I know you have a lot of money in this already, I know you have ambition and want to make it work, I know you don't want to let "it" beat you. Just remember the sunk cost fallacy, and there is no "it"... there is just a hole you can keep pouring money down. You have to get a handle on your direction and a business plan. Part time work is not going to ROI that equipment. If you just want a hobby to throw money at... that is a different story.
  • NotSoFastNotSoFast Posts: 3,461Member, Moderator El Moderator
    smedlin said:

    @NotSoFast , I think you might have misread things... or I misread, one or the other.

    he works in the oil fields.. those guys don't "live" out there..they go there for weeks (and months) at a time, then go home for a month or so.. back and forth.. back and forth.

    I think he created his shop in a trailer, so he can take his shop with him when he goes to "work".. then when it's time to go home (weeks later), he can take it home.

    This way, he can dip no matter if he's "deployed" or if he's at home.

    That's exactly what I envisioned, but with the hours they usually work, it seems like there'd be little time to sleep if the dip business was good. If he had time to sleep, then he wouldn't be selling enough to make it worth his time/investment. The ol' "catch 22", if you will. It just seems like with the limited time available with a "regular" job like that, the remaining time wouldn't yield enough to be productive vs a $30,000 investment. Unless it's a long-game kind of thing where it's ok to be in the hole for the better part of a decade before seeing a profit. If that's the case, I hope it works out well. But that's not a business model any investors would dream of putting a dime into. If you just love dipping and have money to dump into the dipping hole, then you seem like you have found the perfect scenario. Just keep your expectations within reason. One-off's of hardhats and tumblers simply are not a profitable business model. You'd make more profit just getting a second job in your off-time and you wouldn't have to spend $30k up front.
  • K2ConceptsK2Concepts Posts: 14,064Administrator El Jefe
    Isn't this interesting...just so happens I have a business model that is based on a mobile rig...it's sustainable, requires about what you put into your rig, the model is built to piggyback on a growing business that is developing right in front of most of you guys noses, you will be able to branch this out into other existing businesses...best of all? You can probably only have to work a couple of days a week and 3 to 4 hours a night...

    ...and I was thinking of franchising it...actually have a meeting tomorrow (Wednesday the 16th) with some investors...

    And yea this has been bouncing around in my head for the last 3 or 4 years...so don't feel bad if you don't catch my drift...it took the right set of circumstances and no small amount of alcohol to hit me right between the eyes...but that's often how ideas like this happen...everything just finally falls into place...

    But back on track? You have the right idea...just the wrong target audience...and the wrong items...you are trying to be all things to all people in your business model...so that's never going to work with a mobile unit because of the sheer amount of different films and paints and other items you will need to be all things and dip all things...

    Some things to remember though...

    Wastewater may require permitting BUT what most people don't know is that if you can find a septic service that will allow you to dump? Then it is on the service to get rid of the water or test it. The good news is that those of us who have tested our water? The report comes back that it is no more hazardous than toilet water...so even if you have to have it tested? It will be fine...The bad news is? No, you cannot just dump it down the drain or sewer...so start looking at septic services in your area...

    Paint booth permitting and air quality control should not be required as far as I know for a mobile service...that's how all these spot repair guys get away with it...and if you are using rattle cans? It's even better since you fall below the 1 gallon a day restrictions.

    General business and vendor licensing? Yes, you will most likely have to get those BUT that's the price you have to pay to be in business... the good news is that you should be able to get one-day permits for most small venues...

    Liability insurance is a must...can't imagine it being very much for what you are doing...but again I would change the business model...

    Chemical in your trailer should be no problem since you are using rattle cans...no more dangerous than in the trunk of your car...I would not worry about that...

    All in all? Believe it or not? You got the right idea and the hurdles are not monumental...you are just on the wrong business plan and that plan will definitely kill the business...

  • WileECoyoteWileECoyote Posts: 7,192Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    How do you justify the additional cost of hauling water and how do you effectively heat said water on site?
  • K2ConceptsK2Concepts Posts: 14,064Administrator El Jefe
    Well...in MY plan? You only need a 24" x 20" tank...12" deep is fine...so instahot under counter water heater would do the trick...as for hauling water? You should be able to fill up that and a rinse tank once you get to the location...if not then the plan would be to have a 50-gallon freshwater supply tank either in or under your trailer...and a 50-gallon grey water tank...just like a RV...guys do it all the time...
  • MidOhioHydrographicsMidOhioHydrographics Posts: 10,131Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    Interesting... I shall wait and see what evolves over the next few weeks/months!

    By the way, a guy in Florida did indeed do this. I forget his name, but he called me about 1-2 times a month with various questions. Sounded like it was going well.
  • MidOhioHydrographicsMidOhioHydrographics Posts: 10,131Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    By the way... when is our meeting about investing??? :lol:
  • WileECoyoteWileECoyote Posts: 7,192Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    50 gallon tank is an additional 400 pounds, and RVs have significantly better suspension... and baffles to prevent unwanted movement of fluid and it's secured to the frame of the machine, not a barrel strapped to the walls or something.

    I am guessing you are running 120 in to the instahot. With 1 3500 watt element that would require a 35 amp breaker just to heat the tank. That isn't running your pump. If you are lucky enough to find a place to hook up 220v you could do it easier.

    I am not trying to stop this before it starts, just asking the questions sometimes people overlook.
  • versuspaintversuspaint Posts: 230Member ✭✭✭
    If a decent size generator can power a RV with A/C and everything else, it shouldn't have a problem running the element and a couple pumps and even a small compressor. Like wile said, ideal would be to gut out a decent size camper, then you have two storage tanks and a fresh water tank with a pump, hot water heater, and is set up to haul the heavy loads. And you can find ones with little damage for cheap.
  • smedlinsmedlin Posts: 2,235Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    but campers have walls, kitchens, bathroom ect that would have to be gutted and removed.
  • WileECoyoteWileECoyote Posts: 7,192Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    @smedlin somehow people think its ok to be spraying these chemicals in their houses already... dipping in their bathtubs. I am sure some "redneck engineer" can figure out how to do this.
  • studebakerstudebaker Posts: 3,436Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    @MidOhioHydrographics I'll bet that guy from Florida you were referring to was Greg Steinhagen. He gutted a cheap motorhome and installed a small tank to do phone cases at the flea markets.
  • bcarty2433bcarty2433 Posts: 18Member
    edited October 17
    @K2Concepts ; agree, but in my mobile  set up I'm not using rattle cans, i have good guns and use either one hit wonder or Auto grade paint through them. I have a 6ft tank and a 4ft tank , a rinse station and it all fits in there fine with room to spare plus the paint booth on curtain rods that retracts when need be but I have enough room to do everything I need and as for heating water and everything like that I just use a hot tub pump and inline heater and in about 20-30 minutes Waters 94° , tanks are insulated also. And yes there is a little to no sleep, long days and even longer nights once I get off my day job but that's the price to pay I guess. 
    Post edited by bcarty2433 on
  • bcarty2433bcarty2433 Posts: 18Member
    edited October 17
     @K2Concepts in my enclosed trailer all water is drained out before you move I put a breaker box inside and ran 220 out power pumps compressors everything else I need once it's on location and set you simply put jack stands under corners and in the middle to brace because a 500 gallon tank adds up to a lot of weight and needs to be backed up. From parking and getting set up 2 dipping is usually about 3-4 hours including time to heat water
    Post edited by bcarty2433 on
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