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Vape Life in the Spotlight: Czar Manufacturing

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This week, I had the opportunity to discover more about the origin story of Dustin Sovern, the CEO and mastermind behind one of the most recognized and inspirational success stories in the vape industry, and of course I had to share it with all three of you guys! 

From the get-go, it's incredibly apparent that Dustin's motivation for creation isn't a newfound quality: Dustin's innate drive to create art in any way he could placed him in numerous teen bands throughout grade school, as well as his own fully equipped in-house recording studio called 'Open Heart Audio' in 2012. But as of January 2015, with the loving support of his then-fiancé-now-wife, Dustin's attention became increasingly ensnared by his newest pet project, Czar Manufacturing—at the time, the wild success Czar has become could've only been a faint dream, but with a little help from that signature entrepreneurial spirit practically defining the companies that fuel the independent e-cigarette market, even the faintest dreams can shine brighter than a copper mech mod on cleaning day.

Company: Czar Manufacturing

Your company was founded…

  • By who?
    Dustin Sovern
  • When?
    January of 2015
  • Where?
    Temple Texas, USA!
  • Why?
    I've always been a doer, and more than that, I've always enjoyed figuring things out for myself. Learning about new things, understanding them and finding ways I can design, make, or just improve on my own is something that I am constantly doing. The vape industry is interesting because at that time, and even still to some point now, is a very large industry that is made up by small, upstart companies rather than big, established entities. This made it fulfilling to me to design and create a product that people could appreciate, and it wasn’t too intimidating to get started because much of the competition was in the same position: getting started.
  • What is the primary goal of your company?
  • Our goal is to make a quality, innovative product that people will enjoy using. In doing this, we hope to increase people’s desire to vape over smoking.

  • What types of products do you design/manufacture? Has there been any evolution in your product line, and if so, how extensive is it and what prompted it?
  • When we first started, my goal was to make mods. We made the Usurper tube mods and eventually made a series mechanical mod called the "Dragon Lady." A lot of work went into these designs, and ultimately, I loved making them. But Drip tips just really took off for us. Give the people what they want. Now we're making expanded capacity acrylic 'glass' for tanks.
  • Has there been any kind of evolution in your company (e.g. sister companies made to meet specific demographics, changes in ownership/leadership, redeveloped strategies, etc.)? If so, what exactly changed, what prompted this change, and how has it affected business so far?
    Most people think we are a huge company, when in reality, it’s a couple CNC machines in the garage at my house. I'm partners in this business with my stepdad Reed Dunn. I also receive help from my mom and wife when it comes to packaging products. Because of this, we've never had to restructure anything; we all get along and agree on things because we have to, haha.

  • How have you incorporated/adjusted for trends in e-cigarette technology, such as temperature control and multi-celled APVs?
    Vaping is one of those things that changes every time you turn around. It's fast paced, so you have to stay on your toes and constantly adapt. When it comes to tips, we used to make a standard 510 size for tanks and chuff caps for drippers. But now most devices have a non standard size tip, which keeps us constantly buying the latest and greatest as soon as possible and getting a tip made for it by the next day. It keeps things interesting.
  • What kind of involvement does your company take in the vaping community outside of manufacturing/sales (e.g. advocating, vape meets, community gathering, etc.)?
    We like to attend conventions and any sort of function local vape stores host like cloud comps, benefits or whatever else. Just staying active in the community and helping out stores and customers where possible.

  • What kind of advertising do you create/promote? Is it done entirely through online media, or as a mix of online & public media?
    Our advertisement and promotion has been entirely online, Facebook and Instagram posts for the most part. We've had a few reviews and shout-outs that have been great for promotion, but that’s just thanks to the awesome people who like our products.
  • Before joining your company, what kind of background does most of your staff have? Mostly e-cigarette related fields, or just fans of vaping who believe in the industry?
  • Like I said earlier, we're a small family-owned company. My business partner Reed is a teacher with a background as a CPA. My mom, who helps out, is a teacher, my wife is a news producer at TV station, and I'm a technical college drop out with no prior career, although my degree was to be in mechanical engineering processes (machining) which helps a lot with our manufacturing.

  • What have been your biggest challenges so far? Do you foresee any new problems arising in the future?
    The biggest challenge so far has been getting the product out there, making people aware that it exists. We started small, and so all of the upstart money went into buying a budget CNC machine. We've never really paid for advertisement. The growth of our company is what I would call "organic." It's all been word of mouth, meeting people, driving to every vape shop possible, going to conventions, and letting the product speak for itself. Eventually word got out; our distributor (Vapro) contacted us, and it’s been fantastic ever since. It's a long slow road to take, but I find it rewarding because you make so many solid and genuine business connections; if they like what you do then they spread the word. Recently we bought a second CNC lathe, which blows the other out of the water, and were planning on continuing this expansion throughout the new year.
  • What have been your biggest accomplishments? Any new or future releases/designs that you’re particularly excited about?
  • One thing that’s always felt good, like we've really accomplished something, is to send any of our products to another country. Being an internationally shipping manufacturing company, that’s awesome. But at the end of the day, just making something that people like enough to pay money for and making a living for yourself and family is a great accomplishment, and an opportunity I'm constantly happy for.

  • As a company, what is your opinion of the present/incoming regulations in the US (FDA/national/state)? How will they affect future business? Would you design them differently, and if so, how?
  • I agree that there should be some regulation for vaping. For example, making juice in a clean room, using safe ingredients. Manufacturing devices and not using leaded copper, or something like that. My fear is that the current regulations will shut down a major part of the industry and hand it over to big business, which would ultimately remove one of the greatest parts of this industry: being able to be a small start up and still succeed. So we will see; hopefully, we can jump through all the hoops and make it through.

  • Where do you see your company in two years? In five? How about ten?
  • In two years I hope to still be in business, after all the FDA stuff has come to full effect; the goal is to stay in the game. And hopefully along the way, we will add a couple more CNC machines to increase our production level as well as some equipment to expand our product line. In five years, I guess I'd like to have our own shop, maybe some CNC mills as well as more lathes. Eventually I'd like to create some products outside of the vape industry like EDC gear or knives or something.

    Czar Mfg. makes more than just great vape gear!

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