Clearly a minefield this but a few thoughts...
Two ends of the spectrum can work:
- The one (maybe two/three) man, craftsman builder who takes a real pride, is happy to show you what they do and is enthusiastic about what they do. Not necessarily the expensive (low overheads) but unlikely to be the absolute cheapest unless you really find an artisan. Seem to be quite a few reputable rib builders in this area. Fewer 'big boat' builders here apart from traditional wood guys. This is a very niche play - 'local craftsman'.
- The fully industrialised model, highly automated and a rigorous attention to quality control (ignore the ISO9000/1 badge though). Not sure if there are any rib builders here at all but one or two of the German / French placcy yacht mob are. This segment is the classic economy of scale with high volume, low price (margin) good quality
Then there is the vast middle ground producing a moderate volumes:
- some differentiate by ultra high quality bespoke build / very high price niche. This is a brand nich, expect to pay top price and get a commensurate service. Super yacht tender marketplace?
- some fill a different brand position of good quality, long term reputation, competitive but perhaps a bit over 'average' price.
- perhaps there are a couple more segments here... but play about with brand, price, quality dimensions...
The cautionary ones for me are:
- to look out for those that seem to be selling a product (rib) at a very competitive price with middling volumes - how are they doing that (do they have a different feature e.g. offshore construction - cheap labour)? Or is it quality that's being sacrificed?
So you can find cheap and quality at the ends of the spectrum, middle ground is harder to achieve this but you may consider there are 'value for money' niches there too (depends on your own evaluation criteria) but this is the dangerous ground. If you can't figure out how they do it then perhaps you should be concerned! Trouble is most of us don't have all the data to make a fully informed decision - especially when new to a area like buying your first rib...
(One last danger zone - are they expanding quickly? Quality may take a hit...)