Repurposing Shipping Containers For Fun & Profit: Interview With Boxman Studios
There are many things we do for fun. From turning wooden pallets into fancy pieces of furniture, decorating all sorts of jars to making artful items for your home from PVC pipes, it’s a long way. But what would you say if we tell you that there are people creative enough to repurpose those huge shipping containers just for that — for fun. I know, it’s mental. But wait until you hear that they’re also making a profit from repurposing shipping containers — and I bet you’ll want to read more.
The guys at Boxman Studios are experts in “repurposing decomissioned shipping containers by turning them into sustainable immersive environments”. They started their repurposing shipping containers business sometime in 2008 and since then, have worked with lots of brands in North America, coming up with rather stunning ideas for companies to interact with their target audience, and what not. And we’re not kidding, some of these venues come with bamboo floors, have fancy bars and marble countertops, contemporary furniture and an overall stylish feeling that will keep you glued way more than you’d imagine.
What’s even more interesting is that Boxman Studios designs, builds and transports the desired shipping container, promising to fulfill even the most intricate needs of any pesky customer.
We just had to get an interview of the guys and know more about what’s going in on — so we talked with founder David Campbell, who was nice enough to answer a few of our questions. Let’s see how exactly do they turn a frog, into a prince!
Dave, what inspired you to think about reusing decommissioned shipping containers as compared to customizing steel buildings and other materials?
- Coming from a real estate development background in the heart of the recession (2008) I was looking for something to do. When I read about shipping containers being used as building materials, I felt that there was a great opportunity to create structures that I could take advantage of some great pieces of real estate that I could ground lease, build a structure, and then ultimately move the structure when a higher and better use came along. The future value transaction created is what made it attractive over other forms of construction.
When you started work on that first container, did you already have a customer in mind or were you just building a proof of concept structure?
- As I started to look for projects in early 2009, I researched multi story multi family structures, dorms, and even jails, and then came to the realization that I had not ever done even a small project so I decided to create what we called a”hospitality unit” with the justification being that if it didn’t work out to be a business model, I could at least use it for parties or tailgating at Carolina Panthers games. So there was no initial client in mind – more of a proof of concept with the idea that we could create venues to take on a 20’ by 25’ tent structure – but be easier, cheaper, and cooler.
What were some of the problems you had in creating your first structure?
- As with anything that is being done for the first time there is an element of trial and error involved. So there was no great feat to overcome per se, other than the challenge of visualizing what needed to be done, and then determining how to execute our vision.
What was that first structure used for?
- It was a pop-up hospitality unit – and it is still in use today.
Did you reconfigure the structures for each convention, build separate ones or just ship the containers to the new location?
- We actually only did Google at the DNC (in our hometown of Charlotte, South Carolina) – Google had a presence inside the convention hall at the RNC. They are known for their stance on green technology, we delivered a great idea that had extremely low figures regarding shipping costs and fuel used to transport the mini-village.
Speaking of parties, you have created several “party venues”. What was the inspiration that led to your Boxman CABANA product?
- The Cabana came from our clients need for more vertical branding and display walls. On our hospitality units we have taken out many of the vertical surfaces to accomplish a very open feel. With the cabana we accomplished the need for it to be open, but also for more vertical surfaces to be utilized. The Cabana also allows for great flexibility for our clients – they can open one side or all 4 depending on what they are trying to accomplish.
From you web site we get the impression that you do mostly custom design. Do you have any standard products, like stages, party boxes, etc.?
- We pride ourselves on being a custom company but we keep a significant turnkey inventory that can be tweaked and customized as per our client’s needs. This can be as simple as a signage package or a complete redo of an existing design for it to fully embody our client’s goals.
Our editor, Fred Hoot, is a musician and would like to know if you have any national acts that use your products. If yes, what acts and what did they order?
- Edwin McCain has used our stage twice but that is the only national musician to do so. For now.
What was the most unique structure you have built so far?
- Our most unique was probably the Google structure at the TED Talks but close seconds would be Samsung, Google DNC and Lays in Times Square… but wait for 2013 I’m sure we will push the concept of repurposing shipping containers even farther.
How many containers did your largest structure have? What was the customer and use?
- For the Google DNC we utilized 34 containers.
In terms of logistics, do you have several manufacturing sites spread across the US or do you have everything centralized?
- The majority of the manufacturing is done in Charlotte, but we do have a small manufacturing facility in Los Angeles as well.
That’s about it folks. We have more images that will amaze you, below. Just tell us if you wouldn’t want to have fun with something like this, too? We’d love to hear all comments and questions about repurposing shipping containers and Boxman Studios.