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Question to the freeze dryers

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by Diehl2229, May 11, 2014.

  1. Diehl2229

    Diehl2229 All Critters & Pets Freeze Dry LLC

    Hi I started my business about a year ago after retiring from the Fire Dept.
    I went to school to learn freeze drying to save me some years of frustration. Question is how do you set a fair price for someone's trophy or pet? Freeze Drying is expensive which turns some away but the outcome is worth it. If done correctly it will last as long as any taxidermy mount.
  2. Well, my biggest expense is labor. With freeze drying that is cut significantly. I charge more to skin mount or do a replica of a panfish then freeze drying to encourage the customer to go with the freeze drying. Plus the minimal shrinkage and other factors as well. For small critters I pretty much charge what I would for doing one conventionally. The difference in my prices is by the amount of space it will take up in the chamber. I also do it wholesale. For velvet antlers if they do not separate the skull plate it is extra due to increased space that it takes up.
    For pets I charge quite a bit more due to the amount of expression and accuracy required as well as the fact that if I am going to do one it is going to be worth it for me.
    Also I refuse to freeze dry anything that has much of any fat or oils that cannot be removed without excessive reconstruction. Not willing to risk having something go bad in the future. No coldwater fish, saltwater fish, waterfowl unless I'm just doing the legs or they are newborns ext..

  3. Diehl2229

    Diehl2229 All Critters & Pets Freeze Dry LLC

    Thanks a lot that is what my instructor said. Just want another opinion. Gator heads are big where I'm at.
  4. Never done one of those but I have had a few calls about them.
    Kinda crazy odds, I'm also a Firefighter/First Responder. But were just a small town department so its not full time or anything like that and I've only been on a couple years.
    What kind of dryer do you have?
  5. huntleyandrea

    huntleyandrea Freeze Dry by C & Co., LLC

    My biggest expense is the cost of running the machine. I have a big Northstar that runs 24/7. Repairs and maintenance are expensive - since Northstar is now obsolete it can be hard to find replacement parts. The lube for the o-rings alone is 50 bucks! Then, of course, is my time. Most of the work I do is wholesale for other taxidermists (besides pets). I figure my pricing by the size of the animal, how long it actually takes to prepare and pose it, the type of pose (ranging from very basic to the custom unique requests), I also factor in how long it will be in the freeze dryer and the cost of running the machine. Sometimes I price things low just because it is an interesting job and I want to do it...but my prices are probably less than what a conventional taxidermist charges. For example, I charge $90 for ermine/weasel. This is a posed, finished, complete mount. I do this wholesale so the taxidermist who orders it then charges his customers X amount so he can make some money, too. I realize that 90% of my customers are other taxidermists who need to use a freeze drying service for the following reasons: 1. The mount will turn out better if freeze dried, 2. The animal is too small or unique and there is no specific form for it, so they must freeze dry it, or 3. mounting the animal conventionally will take more time and cost more than getting it freeze dried. With that in mind, knowing that they then price it for the customer and it's final destination, I price fairly and pretty low so we all make money. I don't mind being a middle man and I don't mind if they make $100-200 profit for doing nothing. Doesn't bother me or ever factor in a price.

    I think you CAN price certain things higher knowing that freeze drying is the only choice and I think many freeze dry services do, but I don't think it is fair. No reason to get greedy.

    Freeze Dry by C & Co
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  6. Never used a Northstar before but I have seen some pretty good deals on them and have been curious about the repairs/maintenance how dependable they are, how they work as far as what you can adjust manually and stuff like that. May have to get one if I find the right deal. Had a Taxi Dry unit for about 5 years now and the only maintenance until last month was vacuum pump oil. Now I got a plugged cap tube on the vapor trap line which is like a $30 part, probably around $100 fix if the refrigerant wasn't almost impossible to find (especially without getting an entire drum). It sounds like hopefully I might have it back by Friday and I had to by a partial drum of refrigerant from California so I would guess the bill will be around $500 or so.
  7. huntleyandrea

    huntleyandrea Freeze Dry by C & Co., LLC

    They are pretty dependable if you treat them right. We defrost twice a week and change the oil regularly. Over the years we have had to replace a couple vacuum pumps...man those are expensive...like a grand or more. But for running 24/7 for years and years that's not too bad! Northstar isn't in business anymore....some company bought them out and painted the remainder of their machines a tan color and rebranded them. Forgot the name. Now that company isn't in business. Finding parts is hard. But thankfully anything can be made with enough patience!

    They work great. Not many settings to adjust. Defrosting is a process and has to be done twice a week or less depending on how full the machine is. I would love to add another machine to my setup. I have seen deals out there in the past, just have to be the first one with the cash I guess. A "good" deal on a northstar that is in good condition would probably set ya back 8k or so.

    Never heard of taxidry. Is it a table top unit?
  8. Its an upright freeze type system with a glass cylinder chamber. I rarely have to defrost if in between cycles, usually every 2-4 weeks but it does not have an auto defrost on the vapor trap so you pretty much have to shut it off and either wait or use a heat gun or something to melt the block of ice. I believe Northstar just changed names possibly for legal reasons or something. They are around an hour drive from my shop in Nisswa, MN. I believe it is now called Freezedry Co and I think the Taxi Dry is made by someone who used to work there and that company was out of Princeton, MN but now moved to Missouri and is called Freeze Dry Specialties.
    So you have not had problems with door seals, either refrigeration system, or things like that? I guess eventually you could expect to wear a pump out, never had to replace one yet (knock on wood) but at least that would be an easy problem to diagnose and easy to replace. My system is made so you can run 2-3 chambers off of 1 pump and trap system but I only have one 30x18 chamber (also runs 24/7 except the past 2 weeks that I have been waiting for it to get fixed). Looked into buying another chamber/freeze/ and chamber lid and they wanted like $8-9k for it!! Kind of hard to justify that big of an expense that will take X amount of time to recoup when its basically an upright Frigidaire with a thick boron infused pyrex glass chamber inside of it, a chamber lid with pressure guage, and vacuum hose. All that's different with the freezer other than the chamber is that it has an external thermostat to manually increase or decrease the chamber temp just a few degrees at a time.