When we first started manufacturing our BuckEye Cams in early 2003 – we didn’t have a choice but to make them in house. Going overseas just wasn’t an option for us as we were just too small (and honestly didn’t know how). We had always designed and manufactured all of our equipment in house so it was not a really big deal for us to apply the same principals to the new “BuckEye Cam” product line. You have to remember we had designed and built the very first wireless camera system well before the iphone – Black Berry was a “new” thing and the entire concept of sending images wireless had to be explained. I’m serious, people would ask us all the time, “Why would I ever want to have pictures sent wirelessly?”…. I guess we were way ahead of our time then (and now) but we had created something that we knew was a hit.
So at a time when everything was beginning to be sent overseas to be manufactured we just stayed with what we knew. We knew how to design and manufacture products. So that is what we did. It wasn’t easy and on top of having to explain why someone needed a wireless system, I also took a tremendous amount of heat for our “price”. At the time our retail price for a camera was not cheap, so it was a bit of sticker shock for everyone back in the day. But what we had designed had never been done before. This was when trail cameras weren’t really a “thing”, infrared was unheard of, as was something that actually functioned in the field for longer than a couple of days. And Wireless? usually at the point of trying to explain the wireless function it became information overload… People tuned out. Trail cameras where hacked film cameras, there was such a thing called a trail timer out that was basically a roll of dental floss connected to a little digital timer – you would string the floss across the trail like a trip wire. Then when the unsuspecting target broke through the floss, the digital timer would stop thus recording the time the target passed through the floss trap. The trail timer always perplexed me – why? Not sure… Any way….
So we cut our teeth – heard plenty of laughs at our product line, too expensive, no one would want it, why wireless, etc. etc. But we stayed true to a couple of beliefs: We knew what we had was a hit, we knew we had to keep it current and we were going to make them in Athens, OH
Keeping it current meant that we could not just have them made in huge batches because we had so many great ideas and concepts to incorporate into the product. If we built them in huge batches, we would limit ourselves so we just kept building them 1 at time right in our Athens, OH facility. At that time I think we may have had 8 employees total and almost half of them were engineers.
MADE IN AMERICA
Outside of our highly engineered and cutting edge design, I always felt since our systems were made in Athens, OH that would mean something to people. People would certainly see the value in a technical product really manufactured in the US right? Not so much. I guess I can understand but it did really aggravate me to discover that our society had forgotten what it meant to be made in America. It seemed to have lost it’s value to the consumer. Price was king and we were becoming a throw away society when it came to anything electronic. I mean no one serviced anything electronic. They just didn’t. You could send it in for a refund or replacement but not a repair. That was mainly because electronics were largely being made overseas and no one in the states COULD repair them. That is something however, we really took pride in offering. We built our products and knew how to service and repair them. We designed our systems to last for decades not days. We designed our systems to operate in some of the harshest environments and we EXPECTED them to last for decades. And if the time ever came that you needed to service or get your BuckEye Cam system repaired you could count on us. We took pride in our ability to service and repair our systems. We took pride in knowing that we were the resident experts and could solve any issue regrading our systems. This came directly from our dedication to keep our engineering and manufacturing in house.
It was mostly a hard sell. People wanted cheap first, quality second and made in America just didn’t seem to matter. Either that or half the people were so used to being lied to about being made in America they really didn’t believe anything was made in America. You know, Made in America or Manufactured In America, Assembled In America etc. Just seem to have lost its value.
You can literally see other camera “manufactures” boast about their product being made in China because “almost all cameras are made in China and we know how important price it to our customers” – Wait, What? You got it – They have gone from Made in America to Made in China because “they know you want it cheap”. They are basically saying you are “darn right we are made in China”. How mess up is that?
Well in light of the recent pandemic and more and more people release how reliant our country once was on foreign countries, maybe now it will become a value to do business with US companies.. Real US manufacturing, made in America company. Our company shut down but didn’t lay anyone off – we ran a skeleton crew and everyone else just worked from home. It is how American companies operate. We aren’t the cheapest but we are here for the long haul and still making them, 1 at a time in Athens OH…