As of 2020 we have significantly cut back on pcb assembly labor / hours per month compared to 2012-2019. We just don't have the time to dedicate 30+ hours per week soldering as we once had. Products are now mainly being offered as DIY Kits, with the exception of NVRAM modules which will always be offered assembled.
With that said, we understand some people may value their time more or just don't have the ability to solder boards. Rather than leave those customers out of options for acquiring our products, we will be offering assembled options on some products as time permits through the year at pricing we're able to support with the significantly reduced hours we're now able to dedicate to assembly.
If you have the proper tools/equipment, we would highly encourage you to purchase a DIY Kit. It will be cheaper & the time-cost for a single build of a product isn't too high.
It's just that time DOES become a factor when building dozens of products as a business, when these products are hand-assembled and can take multiple hours each to build, test & ship out.
For more info on how assembled products are priced, continue reading below..
How We Price Products
Our product pricing has changed over the years and heavy consideration is now being given to time / labor costs respective of each unique design. That means if the product is labor intensive (ie. multiple hours to hand-solder, assemble, clean and test) then a higher labor rate must be factored into the product pricing. Just the same, products that are much faster to assemble have lower labor costs in their pricing.
Material costs are also key in pricing. When ICs or components we use have gone obsolete or have shot up in price due to supply chain issues or higher costs by the manufacturer, pricing is affected. A few products we're offering have been affected by recent supply chain issues and obsolesence of the underlying chips/components.
As a final part of product pricing we have normal operating costs as a small business. A big factor is business taxes, which can unfortunately easily amount to 40-50% of net profits (fed, state, local & self-employment taxes). Uncle Sam will gladly take about half of the profits (after 15-25% material costs & transaction fees are subtracted from the sale price). That happens regardless if you're providing your own free labor or paying someone else for the assembly.
So to walk through an example..
Sell a product for $100 that took you 2 hours to assemble and $20 in materials. You receve a Paypal payment of $100 + shipping. So, you have $80 left over before taxes. Uncle Sam gets $40 of that after typical combined business taxes (federal, state, local taxes & self employment tax). You get $45 from the original $80 profit. The $45 you keep then represents potentially multiple hours of assembly labor, cleanup, packaging, shipping, customer support and business risk. Who makes out better in that scenario? Yep, Uncle Sam.
Ideally if you can find products in high volume & have them pre-assembled or find a way to reduce your labor hours, that's the best case scenario. Then your costs of assembly can be part of the cost basis of the product. You're time is mainly shipping products, answering emails, etc. The challenge with pinball products is they typically don't sell in very large quanity. Some may only sell a dozen or less per year. So they generally aren't the type of products that you can justify costs of tooling & factory assembly. You'd have to order them in such bulk that you'd be sitting on products for decades that only sell a handful a year, or they'd be very costly per unit. So this is why we've hand-assembled our products. But then as mentioned, time becomes a problem.
After many years we have decided to mainly be offering DIY Kits for products other than the nvram. We're also OK offering assembled on limited products (when time permits) as long as the pricing represents the labor costs involved.
We hope this explains our assembled pricing a bit more. In the end, we consider ourselves a "boutique pinball shop" offering some cool or unique products at pricing that may or may not work for some people. Either way, it's all good!
What we can say is we've had customers tell us our products have held up better than other products on the market or look and function better. So while we may not be the cheapest option out there on every product, we're proud to offer the pinball community quality products that will last!