So what makes BuckEye Cam different than others?
That’s an open ended question that when asked, usually there is a point to be made either one side or the other.
What makes us different? Well usually the biggest point is that we have been in business since 1985. In our industry, that’s unheard of….. Most companies in our industry are moving on 2 year cycles. They pop up, hang around for 2 years and then disappear..
Knowing that most want a flashy “we participated in the moon landing” sort of answer, only to find out one of our biggest differences is that we have been in business basically forever, is less than dazzling. But in reality it is a big deal.
What good is a “lifetime warranty” if the company offering it is going to be out of business next year?
Yes, we service what we sell…..
We actually have a real life service department that actually performs repairs. We actually have trained technicians that specialize in our wireless products that will answer the phone, respond to emails and online chat’s. That kind of makes us different.
Remote assistance – in the rare chance you have an issue that we can’t seem to figure out over the phone or via email we also offer free remote assistance. So, if you require remote assistance, we can and then just walk through it together.
We design and manufacturer everything we sell…..
Seems strange to have to say it but it does need to be said. We have real engineers on staff that are constantly working on improving our wireless systems. This is extremely important because as with most electronic devices regular updates and improvements are required. Think of your smart phone and how often you get an update from them. We do the same thing – as a matter of fact we have an entire page devoted to firmware and software updates for all our products. And since we are wireless, you can choose to have the updates performed automatically so all your equipment in the field will have the latest firmware. That is a huge deal…. It’s pretty common to receive a new feature on your existing products, just with a free firmware update.. I’m not aware of anyone offering that….
It is extremely common for “new camera companies” to show up and start promoting their “brand new camera” with all “new features”. But when they actually hit the market, they are really no different than all the other “new companies” that have gone out of business, because they all get the same design from overseas – Then have it put in a slightly different enclosure and call it theirs… Seen it time and time again…. The main problem is intellectual property being held in China is for sale…. anyone can buy and make it their own…. What we have learned is if you want to stay in this business you have to design and manufacture everything yourself. This is what keeps us ahead of the competition. Sure, we have people trying to replicate our equipment and steal our ideas but it is way more difficult than just putting the hardware in a box (but don’t tell them)…
We write our own code and software.
This is a big one… probably the biggest. Having complete control over our entire product line is what really separates us from everyone else. This keeps us current and always keeps our customers VERY happy as they will never get stuck with a faulty system ever. If you look at the typical camera “manufacturer”, they receive their shipment of cameras in their pretty retail packaging. Everyone one of them made exactly alike – and then they find out they have an issue that causes failures in the field. So, they have thousands of cameras that all have the same issue, all sealed up ready to be sold. This is why so many camera companies go out of business.
We are constantly testing all the systems as they go through production. Since we designed it, we know how to test it and how to fix any issues that may come up during production. Having complete control of the process makes a huge difference. This applies to not only the product firmware but also the software. Software has to be able to operate on a large variety of platforms including MAC and Windows. We normally receive advance copies of the next operating system to be released by either MAC or Windows so we can test our software to make sure it is completely compatible. There’s just a lot more to it than having a website….
Bottom line is we have always done things differently because our product line demands it. We would have never gotten to where we have today if we wouldn’t have made our own roads. It is what we still do today. It’s not the easiest route but it is the best way to get there.
Having been in this “industry” longer than I care to admit (makes me seem old) it always seems to surprise most people when I give them a glimpse “behind the curtain” so to speak about the hunting “industry”.
I can recall a time early on when I was giving trail camera seminars at trade shows, there was still some loyalty left in the industry. The big name guys were also at these same shows giving seminars and meeting with the crowds. At that time in the industry they stood behind a product because they believed in it not because they were being paid. There was almost a pride in their opinion and it mattered to them that they believed in a product before they would even think about being associated with the product. The industry strives to get acceptance from these experienced industry experts by producing a superior product, not by writing bigger checks. “Buying” opinions wasn’t an option in those days. Guys stayed with the same product for years, because they truly believed in the product, not just because they were getting paid. The irony is the standards were set by those that truly knew industry and it felt almost like they were obligated to tell the rest of us if the product was worthy or not. Did it meet their standards? If it did, why? It was a great time for the industry, because it was an honest shake on the products being produced.
Not so much now. Hunting industry “stars” come and go now pretty regularly, this happens about every 2 years. I have often joked that I could get just about anyone in the industry to sponsor my new “AIJ” (Air In a Jar) product line if the check I wrote them was big enough.
“This segment brought to you in part by:”
Hunting TV and Cable Shows The last couple of decades I have spent my fair share of “marketing” money on hunting shows. In the beginning we started off locally with a very small but talented group of videographers. They were like us, small but motivated and very eager to show their wares so to speak. What they produced was entertaining and well produced. It had a small town “real to life” charm and was humorous without trying to be funny. At the time we couldn’t afford to go “big time” and get our own, show so we stayed with producing hunting videos.
The videos didn’t do bad and we did finally get to the point where we were able to start sponsoring shows, but it seemed like the times were changing. I can’t really say if the marketing money helped us get there or was it just our shear will to survive, but we did manage to keep our head above water in an ocean full of sharks.
At the height of our “TV marketing” efforts we had our own show plus major sponsorships on 2 others at the same time. We were spending A LOT of money to “advertise” but what struck me most was the more we spent on TV shows the more we were being approached by others wanting us to sponsor their shows. It seemed as though the only real bump we got of all the marketing was offers to spend more money on marketing.
The Hunting show industry was full of people trying to make a name for themselves by, well, making a name for themselves. It’s an ocean full of sharks trying to get famous for being on a hunting show… This is what everyone with a product to sell in the industry thought you had to do to make it, you had to sponsor a hunting show. It’s simply not true. Not then and certainly not now. The outdoor/hunting channels used to have limits on how much “Advertising” you could do during the show. The reason, which I agreed with, was because they were trying to make sure the shows actually had content, versus ending up just being an 30 minute infomercial. Since that time, it seems that the channels no longer have any limits to advertising during the shows. It is not surprising to have 27 minutes of advertising (soft and hard) during a 30 minute show. It seems that content has taken the back seat to advertising, which probably explains the extreme decline in the amount of hunting related shows and channels now available. The channels that used to have a 1 year waiting list now are running old westerns to fill the spots. It’s sad to see the decline, as it used to be very entertaining.
Retail’s Race to the Bottom
At the same time the big online retailers “box shops” were just starting to gain momentum. There were still small “Mom and Pop” shops around, but their extinction was all but a certainty at that point. For a new manufacturer in the world of up and coming box shops the goal, as I understood it, was if you wanted to make it in the hunting industry you had to get in with the box shops. So off we went to get in with the box shops. After years of trying we finally made it! We finally made it in to a couple of the bigger box shops. Product was now officially in the “made it” column right?
Not so fast there… Let’s back up a bit.
See to get in the big box shops you have to pay a fairly large percentage. That understandable right? Sure it is, you set up your terms, agree to percentages, agree to give them a little bit extra percentage if they pay at 30 days versus their standard 60 day term (side note here, they will take the early pay percentage and still pay you late…welcome to world of “made it”)
Then you agree to give them a little bit extra to be in their catalog, even more to be on their shelves and even more to be in the prime locations on their shelves (you will also be required to buy out all the current inventory on the shelf).
Ok so once you get past all that – you’re in…. You’re in the catalog and your product has finally made it right? Well you get paid very late, give away huge percentages and the next thing you are hit with is one of two choices….
One is they contact you saying the competition is coming out with a similar product and they are giving better percentages and/or they are cheaper so you need to give up more to stay in the game.
The other is they decide that they are just going to make a similar product and brand label their name on it and no longer need you, thanks for playing.
All the time you are lead to believe that this is your only way to make it in the industry. Increase your percentages to them and reduce your price only for the end game to get bumped out by the big box shop. So basically you could be signing up for the end of your product line by going with a box shop.
There is always an absolute base cost model for any product. There are ways to cut costs but you do get to a point on any product where the base is and no matter how much you’d like to make them cheaper it’s just not possible.
So early on I realized that this was a race that I did not want to be any part of – The Race to the Bottom as a I call it. Basically, it’s ‘who can go out of business first trying to do business in the box shop industry’ is not really a business model I want to be a participant.
Maybe you have noticed this pattern, maybe not, but the next time you get a catalog or are on their online shop, look to see how many actual brand name products are there. Then notice how many brand name products have been replaced by their own label over the years.
Magazines, Editors picks and Top 10 Best Maybe it doesn’t come to you as a surprise but it certainly did to us. Along the same time as we were cutting our teeth on box shops and hunting shows, we started getting inundated with requests from writers and magazine editors who wanted to write about our products.
Really?? Just out of the blue they wanted to write about us? Awesome, we have made it big time now for sure……full stop.
What I was about to discover was this part of the industry had many unspoken rules…. Want an article written? Just give the writer loads of product then send them what you want written. Don’t expect to ever get that equipment back by the way….
Want to make Editor’s pick or the Top 10 List? Buy a big ad in the magazine. You are not going to make that or any list without paying for it.
Want to be featured in their magazine? You better be buying a huge amount of ads to substantiate the “amount of coverage you will receive”….
It really all came as a surprise to me that the inner workings of that industry had some really deeply concerning “practices” that shed an entirely new light on all those editor picks and top 10s I had read over the years. I didn’t expect any favors or special treatment but I certainly didn’t expect it to be a pay to play either for what was suppose to be an unbiased ranking … unfortunately it was.
Don’t get me wrong, there used to be a time when writers in the hunting industry were extremely well versed, knowledgeable and respected. These are not the guys I’m referring to. By the time we got into the industry the great writers were enjoying their retirement with grand kids and had gotten out of the industry.
‘Tip of the Hat’ to many of these greats I consider great friends and still legends of their time.
Probably nothing that hasn’t been covered hundreds of times over with people in the industry, but I have found more than once people seemed to be amazed at just how it all works (and in some cases, doesn’t work at)…….
So, if you are just up and coming into the industry, be cautiously suspicious of the industry.
Know that you can make it without having to fall prey to the industry pitfalls.