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Old 01-19-2019, 06:01 AM   #111 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Meleager7 View Post
Can any business minded types here ballpark what CCI company might be worth?
-Not as much as you might think. It's worth something, purely because of the name, but yearly sales are moderate at best. No one's going to pay $1 million for a business that only clears $40,000 a year.

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Did cci have all their own machinery and tooling for every part on a phantom?
-As noted, I'm given to understand almost all the production is farmed out to a nearby machine shop. He owns little machinery, so I'd wager the business assets, apart from any remaining inventory, amount to some storage racks, tools and bins, work tables, and office sundries.

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Do they still have valid patents?
-No. Any patents related to the Nelson valvetrain ran out literally decades ago, and as far as I'm aware, nothing else got patented. Nor could it be patented- virtually every Phantom upgrade was based off of some other existing marker- horizontal feed, underslung pump, counterbored barrels, vertical air, etc.

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What would their brand be worth?
-Roughly guessing, three years of net sales.

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Did cci own itís own building and land itís on?
-I'm given to understand no.

Speaking personally, this past December, about six weeks ago, I emailed Mike and was going to place a large order, as I'm getting closer to production on the Duke leveraction- which uses 14" Phantom barrels, a Phantom hammer and sear, and a full power-tube set.

I was going to order enough parts to build fifty guns- about $4,600 worth. He told me he didn't have that much left in stock, and mentioned retirement. I said, ouch, but okay, how many CAN you send me?

I got six. So I have enough pieces on hand right now to make a total of eight Dukes, although two of those will be used up in the upcoming 3rd and 4th gen prototypes.

So I will eventually be manufacturing, in house or through my suppliers, those same parts, in order to produce the Duke. I may talk to Mike and simply ask if I can order the same parts to the same spec from the same suppliers, which would simplify things greatly.

If the "new guy" is going to build the stock back up, I may just order from him. We'll have to see.

But I'll have some on hand, one way or the other, even if I wind up having to make them myself.

Doc.
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Old 01-19-2019, 12:48 PM   #112 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by DocsMachine View Post

I was going to order enough parts to build fifty guns- about $4,600 worth. He told me he didn't have that much left in stock, and mentioned retirement. I said, ouch, but okay, how many CAN you send me?

I got six. So I have enough pieces on hand right now to make a total of eight Dukes, although two of those will be used up in the upcoming 3rd and 4th gen prototypes.

So I will eventually be manufacturing, in house or through my suppliers, those same parts, in order to produce the Duke. I may talk to Mike and simply ask if I can order the same parts to the same spec from the same suppliers, which would simplify things greatly.

Doc.
Ouch. I hadn't even thought about what this would do to the Duke. You should definitely talk to Mike about talking with his machine shop. 50 sets of internals sounds like a large enough order to make minimum quantity requirements. I'm surprised Mike wouldn't do it as a special order - although 50 might not be enough to bring the unit cost down?
If the internals are what's going to hold up Duke production you could always build it anyway and sell it as a body kit. The majority of people interested are going to either have a phantom to scavenge or the wherewithal to track down what's needed.

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Yup ^ A.R.E. I believe they are called.

I visited Mike Tuesday to get some parts and he mentioned a couple small business/fabricators that are the potential heirs to CCI so we can at least forever have parts and maybe, maybe not any new guns.
You visited Willy Wonka and didn't turn in your golden ticket?
You could do this Bret.
You know you want to do this Bret.
Do it for the oompa loompas everywhere.

At the very least someone needs to get a hold of the blueprints or CAD or fully dimensioned napkin drawings for the parts.
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Old 01-20-2019, 12:52 AM   #113 (permalink)
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Ouch. I hadn't even thought about what this would do to the Duke.
-No worries, the Phantom parts were an easy and proven system to use for the marker, but not being able to get factory parts is only a very small setback. Compared to machining the receiver halves and routing the wooden stocks, making barrels and hammers is falling-off-a-log easy.

The only thing that makes me mad is that if I'd either placed the big order or just plain got on the ball back in '17 when I announced the Duke, I could have a ready stockpile.

But, I'm still a one-man-band and '18 was very busy for me- good in that I had a little extra cash to put towards tooling and materials (I have a laser engraver now ) bad in that I had nearly zero time to do any additional development.

Doc.
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Old 01-20-2019, 01:09 AM   #114 (permalink)
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I'm a little late to the party, and don't own any CCI goodness, but I'd be happy to assist with any software / IT / web support for whatever this turns into, if anything.

I'm a software engineer by profession but can do web, IT, and systems related stuff as well.
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Old 01-21-2019, 01:36 AM   #115 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Bang*Bang** View Post
Now, if we wanted to funnel this energy in a different direction, I have some thoughts.

#1 - We Walzmas something for Mike's retirement

I was thinking a giant print with a bunch of photos of people and their markers. Or maybe a token something with a cheque to jump start his project car (yellow MR2, I believe). Maybe a 3D print of him and his Camo crew? You know, something he'd appreciate.

#2 - We create some kind of collective (like a bank or fund) that targets innovators or builders that support the Nelson/Phantom platform and offer what we were willing to invest in CCI in them. The goal beinging mainly altruistic, but not to loose money. Like keeping an innovation float, so to speak.

#3 - CCI 2.0

Like I said before, I have some ideas to add to those above, but this is a full-time venture for someone with money or resources to offset whatever the startup cost would be. Then follow through on.

I'm going to go ahead and take the word of those on here (the shootist) that have crunched the numbers on this, and presume it's a low portability success situation.

Based on the support on here, I think we'd be happy to help, but someone else would have to put their name on the sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation, and take ownership of this cause/ project for it to work.
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What are people's thoughts?

If people can include #1, #2, #3 in their response (any/all), that'll give me something to follow up on.

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I like the idea of a CCI 2.0, or a Phantom Gen 2. If we went the route of just making a new gun that used phantom internals, I think having the connections with Mike's current machinists would be key. It would be super nice to be able to say "hey you know those internals you used to make for Mike? could you continue making those for company X?" I view the internals as the most difficult parts to produce. By working with the CCI machinists and aftermarket suppliers like ASP (think detents) we could produce a gun that would already have all the upgrades people often get. That plus incorporating 3d printing and there would be some great possibilities.

BUT... there is a significant problem of market viability. Does the paintball world actually want a new nelson based marker? Seems like there are already enough phantoms out there - Mike's sales of complete guns were apparently slowing down some. Gotta face the truth of why the Gargoyle isn't being made anymore.

The paintball world has moved on whether we like it or not, and we are trying to keep a niche alive within a niche sport. It might be better to focus our efforts on working with the machinists to ensure the availability of parts for the long term future.
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Old 01-21-2019, 05:06 AM   #116 (permalink)
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BUT... there is a significant problem of market viability. Does the paintball world actually want a new nelson based marker?
-At the moment, I kind of doubt it. That doesn't mean it never will, but for the time being, there's not that much demand, in my opinion.

The problem is that any redesign and relaunch is going to cost money. Mike's already long since invested his time and labor into the gun, and has likely streamlined production as best as he's able.

A new manufacturer, whether one guy or a group, will inevitably have "growing pains", getting up to speed with everything from supplier lead times to reconnecting with dealers.

I'd wager the profit margin on an average Phantom was pretty moderate, but worked fine for Mike as his "sunk costs" were taken care of literally decades ago. For a new group, that "moderate" profit margin might not be enough.

But that means either increased sales- which might be tricky in the current market- or increased retail prices, which I can virtually guarantee won't fly. Even the enthusiasts, like many here on this board, complained about the price of a new Phantom.

So this is a tricky one. The best solution is for someone to take over the wheel of Mike's metaphorical ship, and play it "steady as she goes". Make the same product, supply the same options, and offer the same prices. Spend the effort in expanding advertising and promotion, and work on expanding sales of the existing product, rather than trying to jack up prices.

Doc.
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Old 01-21-2019, 08:14 AM   #117 (permalink)
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As a consumer, I'd just be happy to have a source for replacement parts and the occasional upgrade. As Mike would attest to, new gun sales are very slow right now. Look on any number of BST groups, forums, auction sites, etc. You'll find no shortage of Phantoms available for sale. Mike's greatest competition is his own body of work over the past thirty years. Besides, any new "CCI 2.0" run by anyone but Mike would likely be seen as a copy. I'm not sure if the community as a whole would be as loyal to the brand if anyone else were at the helm. So long as I can keep my current Phantoms running, I'll be happy. Any new company supporting CCI's work would pretty much be considered 3rd party. I'd be okay with that.
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Old 01-21-2019, 03:00 PM   #118 (permalink)
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Yep, Doc I agree with you and Jon. I think a good question to ask is "what if nothing changed at all?" I think most people in the Phantom community would be satisfied with that, and that should guide us onto the right vector. Of course we can't replace Mike, so that is one change we can't do anything about. But what if no other changes were made? That is the sort of end state that I think is most viable in terms of marketability and consumer satisfaction. Maybe update the website but focus on simply maintaining parts availability.
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Old 01-21-2019, 03:59 PM   #119 (permalink)
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I'm just spitballing here:

The concern here should be continuity, and availability of (key) -existing- parts. How many projects on this board have been over-featured to death, with a short production run turning into 20 custom builds, followed by the inevitable implosion and 5+ year thread of customers failing to get their guns or money back? Keep it simple, establish success, and only then take baby steps towards dream projects if you must.

That said, some randomish thoughts:

1. No new part designs. Definitely no new gun designs, at least not until the successor is well established. The business is not going to be especially profitable. Those of you who have not worked in manufacturing may not realize how expensive development and prototyping is, especially when outsourcing parts. I wouldn't be surprised if a complete prototype Phantom, that is, machined one part at a time without special tooling, would touch or exceed $5,000, times however many prototypes you need to develop that entire project. This is money that will sink the hypothetical new venture within a year, and if it releases a gun that has problems (think the Thumper) or worse, actually creates a safety problem, that's it, game over.

2. Making the ownership structure international will drastically increase complexity, and cause tax and compliance costs to skyrocket. A theoretical partnership or whatever corporate structure needs to be maintained within a single country. A simplified alternative may be to have either the Americans or Canadians run the main show, and if enough demand presents, the other national group can set up a completely separate structure to act as a distributor.

3. I would forget about trying to obtain anything except drawings, specs, intellectual property rights, existing inventory, and maybe some simple equipment that can be shipped by mail (e.g. calipers). There isn't going to be enough profit to pay rent; it's going to be someone's garage project. (I suspect, but have no real way of knowing, that moving into a new shop and spending way too much money on capital equipment was a large factor in Avratech's implosion, maybe the primary factor.)

4. Complexity drastically increases cost. A successful venture will start out supplying basic essential replacement parts and work up from there. I would start with seals, springs, fasteners, ball retainers, and little else.

5. Realistically, one or two people need to take the reins because a committee will kill this thing. If Mike secures continuity with a single person or existing entity, that stands a better chance of long term success.

Simplicity.
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Old 01-21-2019, 04:09 PM   #120 (permalink)
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That's hitting the nail right on the head. If Mike doesn't designate a successor himself, I really see this being most likely to succeed as an add-on to an existing shop that already has much of the necessary infrastructure in place.
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