Hello, ModVans investors and fans! This is a big update, so stay with us; we’ve posted lots of photos to make it more fun. As many of you already know, our biggest challenge from the get-go has been a mismatch between customer demand and production capacity. Until now, ModVans has operated Lean Startup style out of a 2,400 square foot, 1-bay shop space. With hard work and determination, the ModVans team built and delivered 30 CV1s out of that shop. Always having too much work to do (no complaints in that regard) and too little space to do it was holding us down and we had to make a move. We needed a facility that was large enough to handle our projected growth without being too financially risky, was accessible to our core markets, and combined reasonable moving costs with not too much down time. Based on suggestions from investors and employees, we investigated relocating ModVans and that led us on a scouting expedition for potential new locations. Here are a few photos from our trips:
PubDog in Colorado!
Sleeping in the CV1 while visiting Nevada
Our state at the end of the trip.
You can read more about this journey at https://www.facebook.com/modvans/posts/1068091993540551.
Our decision-making criteria included the following:
- Which team members would move with us
- Cost of living
- Friendliness to manufacturers
- Access to vendors, suppliers and new employees
- Market Access (ModVans has sales throughout the US, but CA is by far our biggest market)
- Disruption to our business
- Costs – now and future
- Availability of suitable industrial space - now and future
We weighed each factor carefully, investigated opportunities for government incentives, and looked at many buildings both virtually and in person, then we made offers on locations in both Reno and nearby Oxnard. As long-distance relationships tend to do, Reno fell through, but our Oxnard offer was accepted and we finally had a new home! In light of events unfolding in the world now, taking the more conservative approach by moving ten minutes away was certainly the best outcome.
Below is an illustration of how we used 3D CAD to visualize how our plans fit into potential new spaces. This one is the final design for the Oxnard location to determine its suitability and to plan for the move:
The design has for space for up to 7 vehicles on the shop floor, including 6 production and 1 R&D/ service. We have expanded from 1 lift to 4, and the new shop has plenty of space for tools and parts, pallet rack storage with forklift for inventory, space for parts manufacturing and assembly, and a large break/conference area. The lightly shaded area in the front right corner is existing office space.
Additionally, our new shop is a stand-alone building featuring secure storage for chassis and finished vehicles, plenty of employee parking, and an attractive, easy to access location for customer demos and deliveries.
Our very own standalone building!
Cool sign coming soon; in the meantime, CV1s in the parking lot will help customers find us!
Fenced lot to securely store several vehicles
We taped off the floor and drove vans around to make sure our 3D CAD plans would work in the real world.
How do you move a shop that is still building vehicles as quickly as possible? You could hire vendors and pay tens of thousands of dollars (we got quotes) and spend months. Or, you could do it the lean startup way: we had a couple of great new employees ready to start work when we got going in our bigger space who proved themselves even more worthy by showing up to help us build out the new space while the existing ModVans team continued to work on CV1s in our Ventura shop.
During lease negotiations, we started planning lifts (how many and where), electrical (serious electrical!), compressed air, dust collection, equipment locations, storage, and mezzanine use, so we were ready to get started as soon as they handed us keys to the new shop. We customized the existing mezzanine ourselves, bought a used forklift and used pallet racks, rented a scissor lift, and hired a licensed electrician to assist us with the electrical project.
Every large piece of equipment requires a dedicated electrical circuit and safety switch. Plus, we wanted plenty of electrical outlets throughout the shop. Easy to access compressed air at the assembly stations, a future paint/finishing booth, the CNC, and an industrial dust collection system were all in the plan. At the same time, we wanted to preserve our ceiling heights and floorspace as much as possible, so every run of electrical service, compressed air, or dust collection vent had to go along the walls or up to the 20’ ceiling, across the ceiling, then come back down to the point of use.
Three new load centers were installed to support new outlets and equipment. This picture shows the one that services the assembly area lifts and outlets.
Our resident rocket scientist is installing compressed air lines.
Customizing mezzanine and installing pallet rack storage.
Receiving industrial sized equipment sometimes requires creativity.
Assembling and installing the new dust collector.
Drilling fence post holes in the parking lot with a water-cooled concrete cutting hole saw.
Moving can make you tired!
But we get by with a little help from our friends.
Shop dog 1 is testing out the new location – bark chips are coming soon.
Once we had lifts, storage and electrical service in place, we rented a truck and spent 2 days moving from our original location.
One team loaded the truck while another moved the CNC.
We consolidated all our inventory at our new location. (Yes, we have a lot of seats!)
Once everything was moved, it was time to organize pallet racks. We built custom storage racks to hold large items like 5’x10’ sheets of metal and all the seats.
This CV1 was completed at our Ventura location. During QA, we found a few issues that needed to be resolved prior to customer delivery, so it ended up being the first vehicle lifted in our new location. We had to clear a path through the sea of seats to get it on the lift!
This happy customer flew in in from Utah to take delivery of his CV1 and drive it back home. His is the last CV1 built in our old location and the first delivered from our new location!
Moving everything took 3 days. Within a week, we were ready to get back to work building CV1s!
Our first CV1 built in the new shop going through its final QA steps. Yes, it’s RACE RED!
Our CNC made the move successfully. Here, it is cutting a new fixture for holding popup top lift mechanism parts for CNC cutting (the machine makes the machine!).
With the first CV1 successfully built completely in our new shop, ModVans is real world tested to be 100% operational! Here are some shots of our new shop:
Assembly area with 4 lifts
Electrical Parts Workbench and Storage
Industrial dust collector and aluminum storage
CNC and machining areas under mezzanine
Welding and cutting area on mezzanine
View of assembly lifts from the mezzanine
Forklift and storage
Laurie’s favorite part of the new shop J
As great as the new shop is, COVID-19 is on all our minds. Here is our game plan:
- Keeping everybody healthy and safe is our top priority
- We have sufficient resources to make it through
- We have plenty of orders to fulfill and new orders keep coming in
- We plan to stay at the top of our game, continuing to work towards our goals
- We will have more exciting news to share soon!
If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to ask here in the comments or contact us directly.
To our investors, thank you for your support- we could not have made this move without you!
To our customers, thank you for choosing ModVans and giving us an opportunity to make your adventure dreams a reality!
Thank you to the ModVans team- none of this would be possible without your hard work and dedication!
Finally, thank you to all our family, friends, and fans- we will always value your support and encouragement!