So I'm a artificial christmas tree/wreath/swag manufacturer. We make small tress (1'), big trees (50') and all strange assortments of christmas items.

Since I've shipped out the majority of my goods this year I've got nothing to do but drink eggnog and unwrap presents until next year. AMA!

Edit: Running out for a pint, because us elves like to swashbuckle. Keep them questions coming!

My Proof: http://imgur.com/a/UsdLe

Comments: 59 • Responses: 22  • Date: 

squidravioli11 karma

Why do you hate Christmas?

factoryelf27 karma

because i have to smile to people I don't like

Cerinthus6 karma

What makes a good artificial tree?

factoryelf11 karma

In all honesty, one that fits in your home that you like the general look of! Don't buy a fat tree that won't fit in your home. Or a tall tree that'll hit the ceiling (unless thats your thing).

I could go into detail about the different types of manufacturing, but for the end consumer the difference is negligible.

E.g. PVC (for the plastic leaves) can range from virgin grade to 50% recycled. The price from our end can be up to three times different. However the tree still looks the same. That being said, the overall feel of the pvc is really poor and the tree will look beat up even when you take it out of the box.

toaurdethtdes5 karma

Every year I help sell, real trees at my firehouse. The competition is on. Just kidding I use a fake tree. Do you use a fake tree?

factoryelf10 karma

Truthfully, I don't even set up a tree in my house (I guess the shoemakers kids go barefoot). Real trees are great actually and I fully support them as well, just not as perfect as artificial ;)

Real trees also tend to be a firehazard, so that can be a big headache for some of the people putting them up.

turbogoon3 karma

Explains why the fire department sells them. It's a conspiracy!

factoryelf1 karma

I didn't actually know that! Are they even allowed to do that? Learn something new everyday.

OnlyKindaOptimistic5 karma

Lame question, but you put artificial snow on your trees? If so, how do you decide how many are "snowed" and how many are regular? Also how the heck does that stuff even get applied.

factoryelf7 karma

The process is called flocking, and its usually advertised as snow. We put up a tree on a rotating platform and a guy blasts the "snow" on the tree is being rotated.

My customers decide how many flocked trees they want - so they'll send me a quantity and I work it out from there.

PSA: Flocked trees are a pain to make, and pack away, for both you and us. It creates a big mess for the workers, and generally within 1-2 years it looks awful (if parts of the tree are starting to lose flock)

cuttydiamond14 karma

Sounds like a flocking nightmare.

factoryelf15 karma

so flocking true

thinkB4WeSpeak5 karma

Do you guys make tress out of recycled materials or recycle old trees?

factoryelf6 karma

For me I only use virgin grade PVC (which is not recycled). Recycled material is much cheaper, however when the tree is pulled out of the box it looks used/beat up. Unfortunately it is not something buyers are looking for at this time.

potassiumOD4 karma

Thanks for the AMA! I don't know if this question applies to your profession, but do christmas lights that go on Christmas trees pose fire hazards, whether or not it is a real tree or artificial tree?

factoryelf5 karma

Great question! Christmas lights are generally split into 2 categories (incandescent and LED).

LED diodes generally generate virtually no heat, so its safe (albeit slightly more expensive)

Incandescent lights are like your regular light bulb with a filament inside. Although it does generate heat, I've never heard of a bulb posing as a fire hazard.

PVC (what the artificial leaves are made of) are flame retardant, so even in the worst case scenario, the tree won't catch on fire.

poop_in_me_butt3 karma

What's your factory smell like?

factoryelf5 karma

Smells like the eternal elf servitude.

Nah. I kid. Its a relatively open air factory so it doesn't smell like anything.

MargeInovera3 karma

Why does my fake tree make my hands itch when I set it up?

Edit: Also, does Santa know you're on Reddit right now?

factoryelf5 karma

Santa's off on vacation doing his thing before the big delivery. Us elves are sitting around picking at pinecones and playing tetherball.

In all seriousness, some people tout that plastic trees were the end to all allergy problems (spoiler: they aren't). While it's very rare to have an allergy to plastic itself, its usually some form of residue during the production process (e.g. dust) that are the source of the problem. Tree factories cover up a great deal of space, and while are generally clean - aren't spotless.

I've seen people have problems related to the boxes that they come in (whilst unpacking they developed a small rash). Not limited to this industry only, but boxes aren't super clean either.

Also depending on the tree and leaf type, the bristles can cause quite a bit of friction that can be slightly uncomfortable during set up. Even for us when we have to put up 100's of trees in one sitting, we prefer gloves.

ZacPensol3 karma

When a cashier asks if I need a bag and I don't, I usually say "Save a plastic tree!". Since you're in the business, tell me: is this as lame as I know it is, or as funny as I'd like it to be?

factoryelf9 karma

It's both

the_schmeez3 karma

Do you have a favorite of the trees you ahave made?

factoryelf6 karma

The factory has made millions of trees...so it's really quite difficult to pinpoint it to one tree.

If I had to choose a favorite it would definitely be one of the giant trees (40'), it's always great to see people taking pictures of your work.

cuttydiamond3 karma

Where do you think you're going to put a tree that big?

factoryelf7 karma

Somewhere it can fit. Like a shopping mall with a high ceiling.

31lo2 karma

How long will an artificial Christmas tree last?

factoryelf3 karma

The green pvc can technically last a lifetime. However through normal wear and tear of hanging up ornaments, stuffing it in a box, you might be tempted to switch it up in a few years.

Lights on the other hand are a completely different story... Word of caution, always always always check how the sellers warranty the lights.

comhaltacht2 karma

How well do you perform against your human counterparts? Do artificial tree makers get to join unions just like non-artificial tree makers?

factoryelf1 karma

Elves are not humans, but we get dental and nice benefits from Santa so we don't unionize.

In all seriousness, any factory can become unionized should the workers choose to do so. We're all generally happy here with management (santa) so it's all good.

sparkchaser1 karma

Eggnog? Proper American style eggnog? I'd kill for eggnog right about now.

factoryelf3 karma

I literally have to get it imported, but for the spirit of Christmas, its worth it

mtthwas1 karma

Do you base the designs of the trees on a specific species of evergreen conifer (fir, spruce, pine, etc.)? And what work, if any, is done to make the trees more realistic and botanically accurate?

factoryelf2 karma

Every tree is modeled after a real tree. However we also realize that trees generally need to be perfectly symmetrical (that is what customers like), so to be fair we only use a tree as a "generalized idea" of what we make.

For PE leaves, we make a mold that is exactly the same as a real leaf. It's more labor intensive, but you'll see those advertised as "just like a real tree!"

I've discovered over time that people like their decorations to be evenly distributed across their tree - so its all about giving lots of branches and patching up the "holes" that real trees have. Hope that answers your question!

Ak-011 karma

Those trees cost ridiculous amount of money on the shelves (good quality though). I wonder what are the production costs for those? Are they expensive/time consuming to make or it's just high profit margin product?

factoryelf4 karma

Most retailers have a pretty clear markup standard for their trees, so profit margins are generally pretty stable on the retailer side. To answer your question about expensive/time consuming...it's better to explain the problems associated with the industry...

  1. Shipping - Christmas trees take up way too much space. Shipping is crazy expensive because its dimensional weight is very high. With it also being heavy, retailers that offer "free shipping" have to accommodate that cost into their retail price.

  2. Storage - Nobody wants to stock christmas products after christmas, because you'd have to sit on it a whole year before you can even think of selling it. This is why after christmas sales are so steep (it's cheaper for them to get rid of it than store it another year)

As with most industries, the margins have pretty much been beat to death and there aren't many newcomers. Production times are long, and differences in price are very much attached to the fact you get what you pay for. If it's really cheap, there is somewhere where they are using lower quality materials (whether its cheap lights, recycled pvc, etc etc)

Ak-012 karma

Heh, never thought about all those artificial pines stored somewhere in summer ;)

So what is price tag for those if I will show up at your factory tomorrow and ask for the fresh baked pine? What is your margin in this cost?

factoryelf5 karma

That's up to Santa, I'd ask him but he'd feed me to the reindeer.

#elfproblems

satinsartre1 karma

For those of us who have access to a real christmas tree, how were you able to sell to us your artificial ones?

factoryelf2 karma

I've written before that I support real trees, but when I do talk to people about artificial ones, I always like to point out the following benefits.

  1. Artificial trees do not have to be maintained

  2. Now they can come pre-decorated/pre strung with lights

  3. No need to chop down a tree every year! A artificial one can last easily 10-20 years (although you might start getting sick of it by then)

  4. Artificial trees don't really attract bugs

  5. Our trees are not a fire hazard

  6. Decorating/Setting up can become a whole family event

  7. Artificial trees are symmetrical. No patches that need to be covered up.

Lots of reasons!

ImThatOneTardis1 karma

Where can I find a box for my artificial tree? It's 10 foot and this might be the last year the box can hold up.

factoryelf2 karma

Depending on the manufacturer and tree type, you may or may not have a nested box (box within a box) when unpacking. If not, you can purchase "tree bags" that are pretty much just cheap oversized duffel bags that can fit trees in them.

I don't understand why some manufacturers use flimsy boxes. Half of the sale is on how you can store away the tree for future use...

If you don't mind me asking, where are you in the world? If you're close to one of my distributors maybe then can send you one.

PSA: Hinge trees are bulky and crush the branches when being stored away! IF you have a hinge tree the best way to store a tree is to put it on wheels and wheel it into a closet of some kind.

NeonWarwick1 karma

What is the demographic of people who buy corner christmas trees?

factoryelf1 karma

Hotels, decorators, designers. Those are the people most fond of corner trees!

Unfortunately I can't really break it down by anything else as I am not in contact with the end consumer. Sorry!