News Caselabs is shutting down

Phuncz

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May 9, 2015
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The new trade tariffs are looking at destroying a lot of smaller companies, blowing up bridges that had to be carefully built and making some avenues of manufacturing inviable for US-based companies. This will impact SFF more than we realise as the first things to go when money gets tight is the niche products.

All the best to our friends at @KSliger and Protocase, I hope you guys will survive this madman's reign of financial terror.
 

Josh | NFC

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NFC Systems
Jun 12, 2015
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Caselabs is an amazing company with good people and I hurt for them deeply.

I like to keep private things private but they were closing over a year ago well before the tariffs were even announced. I've also been approached by a third party letting me know factory/equipment was for sale if I was interested. I only share this now in hopes that maybe someone in our group here would be interested in approaching them about taking it over. I couldn't come close to swinging it but I wish I could have done something to help.

I wanted to have my next chassis built by them but we all ran out of time.

It's sad that it is official now.
 

loader963

King of Cable Management
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Jan 21, 2017
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I hate to say it, but I’m calling BS on the tariffs line. Reading Josh’s post, I think is a confirmation of what quite a few people believed was going on. Over at overclock.net there is always posts of delays and long order waits. And last night I was browsing back thru a few complaints and apparently they had quit letting peeps create accounts in their site a few months ago. But a lot of peeps swear by them. There is a legion of posts bragging about their quality and design, and they were always aiming at the highest end of the market.

Hate it for them and the market they served, I always hate seeing companies unable to continue to grow and expand.
 

MoarCoffeePlzzz

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Aug 2, 2015
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I hate to say it, but I’m calling BS on the tariffs line. Reading Josh’s post, I think is a confirmation of what quite a few people believed was going on. Over at overclock.net there is always posts of delays and long order waits. And last night I was browsing back thru a few complaints and apparently they had quit letting peeps create accounts in their site a few months ago. But a lot of peeps swear by them. There is a legion of posts bragging about their quality and design, and they were always aiming at the highest end of the market.

Hate it for them and the market they served, I always hate seeing companies unable to continue to grow and expand.

I've bought 4 cases from them over the course of 5 years and have never had one issue or complaint. Been following and contributing on their thread for longer than that. Calling BS on them after a browsing a few forum pages over a evening doesn't seem fair.
 
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Thehack

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Mar 6, 2016
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Probably increasing overhead and employee costs made it unsustainable to continue business. Bankruptcy don't just happen overnight. And it's hella not tariffs, because other sheetmetal based companies are doing just fine.

I just checked and they're based in California... probably didn't help that they're in one of the state is progressively worse for small-medium business every year.
 

loader963

King of Cable Management
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Jan 21, 2017
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I've bought 4 cases from them over the course of 5 years and have never had one issue or complaint. Been following and contributing on their thread for longer than that. Calling BS on them after a browsing a few forum pages over a evening doesn't seem fair.

I may have been unfair and I apologize. I was just browsing through the threads and it just looks like, in hindsight, that there were signs of this coming before the tariffs hit. Now maybe the tariffs helped influence their decision to throw in the towel, but it looks to me like they were having cash problems beforehand.

It’s well known that their products are top notch and how they had great customer service. I’ve seen a lot of WC builds on OC where peeps say they wouldn’t think of using another case and how some have had there’s for years with multiple builds.

But I believe just blaming tariffs is simply too much. A lot of companies buy metal , and while there will be price adjustments, I don’t think as many will just throw in the towel over it. Especially so early into it.
 

Necere

Shrink Ray Wielder
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Feb 22, 2015
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Sounds like the writing was on the wall for a while, but still sad to see them go. They served a niche for the high quality, big form factor, extreme watercooling crowd as much as the folks here serve the SFF crowd. I don't see anyone else who can really take their place. RIP Caselabs.
 

tinyitx

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jan 25, 2018
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But I believe just blaming tariffs is simply too much. A lot of companies buy metal , and while there will be price adjustments, I don’t think as many will just throw in the towel over it. Especially so early into it.

The reasons listed by CL are all 'external' but I suspect they might have 'internal' issues as well. If so, it is understood that these will remain hidden and not revealed. If I were in a similar situation, I would unlikely to announce, ''Hey, sorry folks, my company is going under because I have made too many management mistakes.'' None of us will say that.

Anyway, thinking of CL, Mountain mods comes to mind. MM also makes huge premium quality aluminium PC cases. I wonder how they are doing. If the newly imposed tariff is serious, they may be the next casualty of trade war?
 

Josh | NFC

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Jun 12, 2015
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Mountain Mods can buy their sheet metal from an American source and avoid a 15% tariff completely. Or if the buy their Aluminum from China they can pass the 15% tariff onto their customers. I’ve spent $900 on a tricked out Mountain Mods case before I’m not going to blink if it cost seventeen dollars more from the aluminum tariff. :D

They probably get their Aluminum from Canada anyway so it’s not an issue.

There are 2000 reasons why it’s hard to operate a manufacturing business in America but a 15% increase in the cost of Aluminum when importing from China is not one of them.


------
^ I wrote this on my phone out the door so I didn't get my whole thought out. I interpret Caselabs mentioning the tariffs as straw that broke the camel's back, not their reason for closing. With how much the industry is changing, and with so much of manufacturing up in the air, it can be really disheartening to have to change vendors and have a gap in your supply line. I'm going through something like this too and a small thing like this can mean MONTHS of gap in being able to deliver product...so I totally get it.

I just wanted to be clear because I am totally pro-Caselabs and I am heartbroken over this being official. I'm going to hold onto hope that there can be a rally and they can continue to provide cases through another channel.

Peace
 
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Duality92

Airflow Optimizer
Apr 12, 2018
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Having reviewed their cases, built and bought some (my avatar is actually in the SM5), I'm deeply saddened by this, knowing their staff and pass staff personally, all I can say is that I feel other factors, also out of their control were contributing. They took enormous pride in their work and it showed with just how well the products were engineered, made and packaged.

I don't think material cost was the issue, but I'm sure the margins were getting smaller.
 

KSliger

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Sliger Designs
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May 8, 2015
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The new trade tariffs are looking at destroying a lot of smaller companies, blowing up bridges that had to be carefully built and making some avenues of manufacturing inviable for US-based companies. This will impact SFF more than we realise as the first things to go when money gets tight is the niche products.

All the best to our friends at @KSliger and Protocase, I hope you guys will survive this madman's reign of financial terror.

I have not seen the 80% increase in costs they have, I've had 5~8% increase in equivalent material product costs since November 2017 when word of that tariffs first started rippling through. Most of that peak 8% was panic buys creating shortages / Russia oligarch sanctions compounding those shortages.

We had the 522% + 266% tariff increase in 2016 as well, that barely affected steel price.

I've actually seen material prices decreases over the last few weeks. We have had increases in wages due to competing with Tesla Gigafactory, as well as rapidly increasing rent and health insurance rates too.

We'll keep chugging along, business is good, thank you!

I hate to say it, but I’m calling BS on the tariffs line. Reading Josh’s post, I think is a confirmation of what quite a few people believed was going on. Over at overclock.net there is always posts of delays and long order waits. And last night I was browsing back thru a few complaints and apparently they had quit letting peeps create accounts in their site a few months ago.

Sounds to me like they picked up a contract for low margin / high volume job shop metal fabrication work that required a tight delivery schedule.

Could explain why they pushed all the CaseLabs order times way out, they needed all their available the time and labor to fulfill the contract.

I imagine "worst possible timing" is that tariffs and shortages ate up the remaining margin per the contractual pricing shortly after they signed; and they might of signed without a protection clause for tariffs, shortages, etc.

Usually a "major account default" means $500,000+ in sheet metal fabrication, I've heard of "major defaults" in the $2m+ range as well.

That or the customer is just a horrible person and never paid them.

I only share this now in hopes that maybe someone in our group here would be interested in approaching them about taking it over.

If you still have your contact let them know I'm interested.
 

LocoMoto

DEVOURER OF BAKED POTATOES
Jul 19, 2015
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'tis a shame, especially as Caselabs was one of the reasons I got more focused into SFF, the XLFF cases they made kinda contrasted the size so well that SFF really felt much more attractive
 

jtd871

SFF Guru
Jun 22, 2015
1,166
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Don't know about sheet steel, but DOMESTIC US rolled structural steel has gone up by at least 10% to maybe even 20% since the tariffs were announced ("commodity" HP sections were recently at 40c/lb delivered and currently are quoted near or above 50c/lb delivered). We used to usually be able to still get our orders for common sizes into a rolling the week before it rolled, currently rollings seem to be closed for at least common sizes about a month in advance.

Anybody who can afford to buy now and store their steel material seems to be doing so as mill quantity pricing is only "guaranteed" the day the quote is issued, at the moment.

This puts steel brokers, service centers, fabricators and construction companies like mine in a hard spot as low cost wins the bid, but bids take time to be awarded by the owner or CM and the steel is usually not needed for some time (sometimes months or years) after the formal notice of award, so knowing what the price of steel will be at that future time is a total crapshoot.
 
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Duality92

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Apr 12, 2018
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Also, mill runs of this type of steel isn't practical for anyone but distributors, even if in coils or in sheets.

I used to be quite involved with metal suppliers in the past, but behind the scenes, the quality standards are increasingly demanding and require more work from everyone involved. (I'm a QA manager).

@KSliger, I can get you easily in touch with the owner of Case Labs. Shoot me a PM.
 
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