July 07, 2023 5 min read 3 Comments
GoFastCampers produces our campers and truck bed toppers on a 10 to 12 week lead time from order to fulfillment. This is a key component of our business model, allowing us to keep costs low and quality high, maximizing value for you, our customer. Here’s how that works.
Each GFC camper and topper is custom sized to the dimensions of your exact truck’s unique bed. This is why we ask for your Vehicle Identification Number when you place an order. Anything from bed rail depth and taper, to cab roof configurations, along with length and width can vary with your vehicle’s unique year, make, model and trim level.
This stands in contrast to typical industry practice, where campers are sized for a generic range of truck bed lengths and widths. Not only does that deliver products that often fit poorly—requiring plywood shims and adjustable turnbuckles to mate with your bed and creating awkward gaps between bed rails and camper body—but it also causes owners all sorts of long term problems ranging from contact between cabovers and cabs, insecure mounts, and wasted volume.
Additionally, offering you the ability to choose from nine different panel colors, front or rear glass windows, or both or none, two different colors for the tent fabric, plus the addition of side doors on that tent, means that virtually every product that leaves our factory is entirely unique.
Attempting to forecast well in advance of your order which options you may want, for which truck, would limit available options and increase the price of the final product by adding stocking costs to GFC’s bottom line. Campers are large, and storing many hundreds of them would require immense warehouse space.
Producing the exact product that works best for you is doubly important with a GFC, since our products are designed to last a lifetime, while remaining serviceable and repairable.
When you place your order for a camper or topper, you will be assigned a completion date, then the production process works backwards from there to ensure raw materials show up just in time so that the parts we make right here in Belgrade, Montana can all come together at a precise day and hour for final assembly.
Not only does this eliminate storage costs for both materials and campers—savings we pass along to you—but it allows us to forecast exact needs for raw materials.
And that ability to order the exact quantities of materials we need allows us to develop and maintain transparent, predictable relationships with the suppliers of those raw materials, which then allows them to take advantage of many of the same lead time benefits we’re discussing here. And that again saves you money.
Because lead times give us complete control over our manufacturing processes, GFC is able to deliver campers and toppers when we say we will. Over the last two years, over the course of more than 3,000 installs, we’ve achieved 99.9 percent on-time delivery.
And that carries through to GFC’s partner shops, too. Because we ship when we say we will, your local shop is also able to avoid stocking costs, and forecast labor demands well ahead of your install. You again save money, and can plan visiting that shop (or our Montana HQ) with reliable timing.
Want to see when your camper or topper could be ready here at our factory, or when it would ship to your local shop? The map on the order page for both products gives you exact timing.
Here at GFC we’re proud that we’re able to offer a starting salary of $57,200. And every single job here is full time, with full benefits. We do that because we believe that making stuff in America should help make America a better place. And lead times help us do that.
Stable staffing levels and workloads help us avoid hiring work out to part time, or seasonal labor, as sales and inventory fluctuate. Or ask our employees to work overtime to make up production shortfalls. GFC employees work four 10-hour shifts per week. Combined with good wages, that enables our staff to go out and enjoy the products they build—each employee receives a camper, topper, or rooftop tent as part of their compensation package.
That we’re able to do all that, while also delivering more value to you, our customer, than rivals who farm manufacturing out to offshore factories, is GFC’s reason for being.
We make pretty much every single one of the 888 parts on a camper (or any of the rest of the stuff we make) ourselves.
Not only does that allow us to design and produce stronger, lighter, more durable parts than what’s available off-the-shelf, but it also allows us to constantly iterate both those parts and our processes. Our seven engineer-strong production engineering team is constantly working to improve both our products and efficiency. And when they come up with a new solution, there’s no barriers to implementation. Since most of our parts are machined from billet aluminum, existing inventory can simply be recycled, and turned into the new stuff.
The benefit to you is that your camper or topper will include these iterative improvements. We never have to ship a sub-optimal part. And all of those parts are custom designed just for your product, offering a level of weight savings, strength, and intentional design not possible from parts catalogs.
You also save money, again. Subcontracting production, or simply ordering generic stuff from a supplier adds mark ups at each stage. The value saved there again helps us lower costs. And because our workers are producing optimized components, they’re creating more value and earning higher wages as a result.
Attempting to forecast demand wouldn’t just result in less customization and added inventory cost. It’d also force us to move away from direct-to-consumer sales and into working with distributors and dealers in order to achieve regular sales targets.
Each of those middlemen would require their own 30 to 50 percent margin. That’s the model that makes a $5 sneaker produced in China cost $120 on Amazon. You do the math for how much that would add to the price of a GFC. Or how much quality we’d have to remove to maintain something close to existing prices.
This is the cold, hard math that explains why a product like a GFC hasn’t existed before, and why we’re able to deliver such an extreme value proposition to our customers. Lead times are why you want to buy a GFC. We make a product worth waiting for.