Not going to lie, I'm a bit dusty this morning. I helped a friend sort out some issues he'd been having with his bike (squeaks and bearing issues and such) and in return he took me out to an awesome dinner with a bottle or two too many of outstanding wine. Fixing creaks in bike causes Friday morning creaks in mechanic.
Wheel companies have the choice to either use open market parts or to make their own proprietary parts. There are pros and cons for each. Wheel companies also have the choice to use open market parts and label and sell them as their own, but I can't call that a valid choice. If you're using open market parts, tell people that's what you're doing and, if you can and it's relevant, tell them what those parts are. More on the "why" of that at the end.
For a bunch of reasons including but not limited to our size, the availability of really good rims and hubs out in the world, our desire to offer you a big choice set, and the bicycle industry supply chain's seemingly limitless ability to screw up deliveries, we've decided that open market parts are the road (or cross or gravel or mtb - get it?) for us. Our walled garden consists of a still very broad array of stuff that does a perfect job for a whole ton of uses, and which we love building and selling and using ourselves, but we're not limited at all.
The thing that you forego with this is what I call "capture." This first came up in the wind tunnel trip we did in the summer of '14, where we tested a few open market aluminum rims and inadvertently set ourselves on course to our present perspective regarding carbon clinchers and a lot of other stuff. But while that expensive test was instructive and helpful for us, we weren't the exclusive beneficiaries of it. The number of forum posts and even direct emails we got that made reference to that test being the basis for a purchase decision that wasn't executed through us was something I had to learn to not let drive me insane.
The other thing is that you can always compare our prices to what you can source those parts for yourself. Unquestionably, the biggest benefit of doing parts that you either source exclusively for yourself or whose identity you hide is that you make this impossible to do. It's like when Best Buy says they'll price match anything, but all of their part numbers are tailored just a tiny bit for them by the manufacturers, so the exact precise model of fridge you're comparing exists only at Best Buy. You could drown in the number of wheel sets that are made with the exact same parts as our FSW3s but cost $250 more, and because the provenance of the parts is hidden, they get away with it. Meantime, what we do sometimes requires going onto forum threads like this one and explaining and justifying how we add pretty profound value to "just building wheels."
I haven't made this point as well as I'd like to (see paragraph 1) but I think you'll get the point. There are actually probably too many good products (as well as bad and pointless ones as well) out there in the bike universe, so adding our own hair-split variant makes no sense. But we still perceive a rather profound overall lack of service, execution and price integrity. We're confident enough to make it plain that we're going to charge whatever amount we do relative to what the parts in any build are available for at retail. Whatever that gap is, we are 100% certain that it will turn out to be an EXCELLENT choice. The builders who need to hide behind obfuscation clearly just don't have the spine to subject themselves to that scrutiny, and wish to maintain their information advantage in order to charge more. It's "smart" I guess, but trying to pull the wool over people's eyes isn't exactly the most customer friendly way to go about things, either.