Animal Custom Drums
Animal Custom Drums’ Carl Gavins discusses why manufacturers need to put the work into promoting their brands, how the Brexit vote has affected his costs, and why you need to have faith in customer demand. How did the company begin and what’s your background in the industry?
I started the company in 2006, running it along side my ‘day job’ as a Civil Engineer, prior to that, tinkering with old kits, repairs and re-wraps was a hobby I enjoyed. I had previously made a snare drum for an A level project and it just snowballed from there. By the time I set up the company in 2006 I had already been making drums and drum shells for quite some years, I was able to go full time with the business in 2009.
What are the key challenges for boutique manufacturers in the UK?
Cost and availability of parts has always been difficult in the UK, especially now the Pound has been hit so hard. My costs went up over night with the Brexit vote and I can’t see that improving any time soon.
The sheer volume of drum makers in the UK for such a small nation is astounding but dilutes the potential customer base and makes brand identity really tough. Most buy from the same Far East parts manufacturers and there are only so many lug styles available so it’s important for me to work on that and develop new lugs and fittings to try and stand out from the crowd.
We’re also still competing with the US companies despite the Pound vs. Dollar, I would say they have the upper hand in marketing, something I certainly acknowledge I need to improve on.
Do you think boutique manufacturers are sufficiently supported in the UK dealer network?
I’m not sure they have in the past, when the Pound was strong there was a definite focus on the US manufacturers. This may be changing and may have to further given the exchange rates and what happens there over the coming months and years.
I appreciate dealers have sales targets to meet with the production companies which promotes a reluctance to add new product lines and a pressure to stick with the tried and tested, but I also think we as manufactures need to put the work into promoting our brands.
The consumer will make the call at the end of the day. If enough customers want to see a certain brand in retail stores, it will happen.
UK high streets have been struggling for some time now. Does this help or hinder boutique manufacturers who sell direct to customers?
It has certainly been a struggle with some big players on the high street closing their doors. I don’t think it will make much difference to boutique manufacturers either way. Time will tell but I certainly hope the situation improves.
Has the demand for customised kits increased or decreased over the past few years?
It’s very hard to tell whether there has been a decrease in demand or just a dilution of customer base due to all the new manufacturers that come along. I would say demand is growing based on the number of quotes we do, but now we have to work harder converting those to sales.
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