Tonight We Dine in Hek

I make stuff. I haul stuff to the local market. I sell stuff. I make ISK. Rinse. Repeat.

Life in New Eden is simple when you earn your living as an industrialist, especially when you are based in high security space. My modest experiment as a solo manufacturer continues to pay off, though at less spectacular margins than what could be possible in more dangerous regions, and with relatively more tedium.

Still, I enjoy the routine nature of it all, now that I've adapted to the post-Crius norms. The world of Tech II manufacturing in high-sec is certainly different than it was before the industry revamp, and it has brought some aspects that I have come to like very much.

Buy Local!

For example, before the Crius release, I would make Tech II modules, then haul them all to Jita, the central market of New Eden. It was and still is the most competitive market. Turnover has always been much faster there, allowing quicker conversion of goods to cash, albeit at lower prices. Since gross margins on Tech II modules were about 40 percent or more, I didn't worry too much about getting the best sales prices for my wares. I was getting consistently high returns, even when selling to lower-priced market buy orders in Jita.

However, margins in the post-Crius world are leaner - especially in high-sec space - and independent manufacturers must pay close attention to costs in order to turn a profit. In addition, I find I have to monitor all of the trade hubs for the best prices, in order to maximize returns. My lazy old days of just hauling everything to Jita are long gone. Today, smart industrialists sell in local markets to get the best returns.

For me, being based in the Metropolis region, this means that most of my goods are now sold in Hek. I've developed an affection for the unique character of this trade hub. It is definitely a different place than Jita, which is generally considered to be the Wall Street of New Eden. Comparatively, Hek feels more like a popular farmers' market - commerce on a much smaller scale and at a slower pace, but that brings some advantages to those who can adapt to the local cadence.

A typical day of sales orders of Tech II items in the Hek market. I generally maintain about 1.5-2.0 billion ISK of value for sale there, with another 1 billion or so of the same items in inventory, ready to be sold as stock runs out.

The Joy of Hek

The Boundless Creation Factory station at Hek VIII-Moon 12  is the fifth-busiest trade hub in New Eden, with about 2.7 trillion ISK in sales orders outstanding each day. This is about one-tenth the volume of goods for sale in Jita. Still, Hek is a respectable sized market. Though I maintain about 2 billion ISK, more or less, in sales orders in Hek each day, that represents less than one-tenth of one percent of the entire market.

Flying in Hek certainly feels different than any other trade hub. Unlike Jita's high 0.9 security rating, Hek is a 0.5 system, which means that there is always a bit more danger of getting ganked there. It's not unusual to see pilots from high-sec ganking organizations, such as CODE. Alliance or Marmite Collective, looking for juicy targets in Hek local, or in nearby systems like Uttindar or Bei. As a result, pilots need to be cautious when hauling goods in and out of Hek. I use a heavily tanked Deep Space Transport and am careful not to stuff my fleet hangar with too many goodies, lest I arouse the interest of enterprising "high-sec content creators".

There is more diversity of activity in Hek, too - pilots mining in asteroid belts, as well as players doing planetary interaction, and many of the moons are populated with Player-Owned Starbases for research or manufacturing. Hek is right next door to the Ani constellation, which contain the popular Minmatar COSMOS mission agents. And since Hek is also very close to low-sec, many pirates come there to buy their ships, modules and ammo. Finally, Hek is only a few jumps from Aldrat, the high-sec base of operations for EVE University, and although E-UNI provides free Tech I ships, modules and ammo to its students, they do not give away Tech II equipment. Altogether, these different types of customers keep Hek a fairly vibrant trade hub.

Selling items in Hek requires patience, however. You don't go there for a quick sale, like most players do in Jita. Rather, you use sell orders in Hek to take advantage of the generally higher prices, and earn greater margins over time. This requires discipline, and persistent, periodic reviews of your sell orders, but the stronger profits are worth the extra effort.

A few examples help to illustrate this point:

  • I'm currently selling 1600mm Reinforced Steel Plates II in Hek for about 2.6M ISK each. In Jita, these sell for about 2.3M - a difference of +11 percent.
  • 1MN Afterburner IIs sell for 2.24M in Hek, and for about 1.85M in Jita - a difference of +17 percent.
  • Heavy Missile Launcher IIs sell for 900K in Hek, and for about 750K in Jita - a difference of +16 percent.

In general, I find the prices in Hek to be about ten to twenty percent higher than Jita.

However, Hek is definitely a slower-paced market than Jita - items can take me a week to sell in Hek, where the same items get sold in hours in Jita. But I find this difference in market velocity works to my advantage. Though I have an alt character based in Jita, fully-trained in all the pertinent trade skills, the market moves so quickly there that I have to monitor the status of my sell orders almost constantly, checking back several times each hour to keep my prices at the optimal 0.01 ISK lower price in station. The more relaxed pace of Hek suits my play style better. I can check in on my sell orders just a couple times a day and remain highly competitive there. If I adjusted prices that slowly in Jita, my items would never get purchased.

A familiar and frequent sight for me: my DST docked in the Boundless Creation station at Hek VIII-12 - my favorite trade hub in New Eden. 

What the Hek?

Hek is not the only place I sell my goods. I also maintain alts in Amarr, Dodixie, Rens, and of course Jita. I often consult EVE-Central to determine price levels in local markets, and then log into the specific trading alts to verify my findings. When it makes sense to take a longer trip to one of the other hubs, I will do so, but I keep finding myself going back to Hek most frequently, for convenience if for nothing else. If CCP Games' intention was to foster development of local industrial centers and trading in the Crius release, this is one pilot who can attest to the success of that change.

Still, it surprises me that seven months after the Crius release, it seems most industrialists have not yet figured out the increased importance of buying and selling locally, and of monitoring prices and trends in local markets. The volume of business in the major trade hubs indicates that most manufacturers continue to haul their stuff to Jita, and unload it at less than optimum margins. I would urge any budding industrialist to spend a little time doing some research before loading up that freighter or industrial ship, and check out more of the regional markets. It may require a little more work, but the incremental gains may be worth the investment. I certainly have found it to be so.

Fly safe! o7