A question for the knife community. Make money and expand Vs. support local community

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Aug 19, 2011
A question for the knife community. Make money and expand Vs. support local community?

I am wrestling with a defining moment for Heritage knives. Make money to better support my family or continue to pay more for materials produced in the U.S. Everything used in Heritage knives are made with in a 10 hour drive of the front door of the shop. After talking to others in the industry, I have found that I could make a lot more money and continue to produce a quality product at a lower price. The upside to this is I could have more money to expand the business and more people could buy and use Heritage knives. The downside is I would no longer be able to support small US businesses that have higher overhead because they operate fully in the US. Emotionally this is an easy question - continue to support the small businesses like me so that we can all prosper and not just me. However when I compete against other companies that are able to get materials at a fraction of what I pay, do I have a responsibility to my family and the business to stay competitive? My question is as long as they are getting a quality blade, does the community really care where it is made, and if they do are they willing to pay a little extra to support small U.S. companies?
My guess is you already have a gut feeling about what you want to do.

Haven you looked for any other options? If your local suppliers knew you were going to drop them, would they lower their prices or make other considerations?

Expansion is often risky. Make sure you have a well laid out plan/strategy to make that happen. I am not familiar with the margins and overhead in the knife industry. However, in the past I owned a small two person PR firm. We had a great time, paid the bills and made enough to live on. After seven years we expanded to five people and the staff to support them. Stated making a lot more money but after five years was worn out with 60-80 hour weeks.

Bigger is not always better. Lastly: if you're young it makes more sense to do expansions and risky defining moments. Why? Because you can always start over. The older you get the fewer restarts you have in your bag.

Good luck...we need more knife makers like you.


thanks for your input. I am getting fare prices from my local guys, but as we have all heard china can do it cheeper. Yes I want to stick with local guys I want to help them grow there business. In the end I may have to charge a little more to keep it all in US made, I am trying to get a feel for how the end users feel, is quality and price most important or do people care wear the parts come from?
Hey Dan, I for one care. I buy locally when I can and/or from online that is US based. I've been buying more custom knives of late and mostly from the knife makers here. Some are not in the US like Alex Noot but he's a forum guy so I consider him family.

From my personal viewpoint, it does make a difference. I have purchased some custom knives here on the forums. I would buy from the makers keeping it local over those getting supplies from China.
Try to support locally, or US first, but to add some fuel for thought, what about production knives where quality control is observed to produce quality products? I think AG Russell keeps good quality in their Chinese made products. Jus toms thing to consider,
Try to support locally, or US first, but to add some fuel for thought, what about production knives where quality control is observed to produce quality products? I think AG Russell keeps good quality in their Chinese made products. Jus toms thing to consider,

That is what I am wrestling with, I could make more money at a lower price if I went over seas and would still assemble and quality control at my shop in the states. What I am really wrestling with is I want to help good quality shops get bigger, after all it was not so long ago I was working in my basement while the kids took naps. People worked with me and are still working with me as I come up and I want to pay that forward. What I want to do is stay all us/ small business but i know that it will coast me more then if I go over seas. What I want to figure out is are people willing to pay a little more for all us/ small business or am I going to hurt my business.
I would pay more and some wouldn't.
It's hard to quantify.

Why not offer some less pure line for a bit less and an All American line for a bit more.
Then after a few months you'll see by your sales number which one generates more interest and which one makes more profit.
On top of that you are supporting local sources as much as possible and at the same time don't endanger your own profit/existence.
That is a good idea and I may have to try it in the end. In this market I have to buy in a relatively hight volume and making two runs for a few months could be over extend me. I was hoping for some inexpensive highly accurate research so I could avoid all those marketing consultant cost. :)
I'm not a knifemaker, just a knife nut, but I do pay A LOT of attention to country of origin. I try to buy things that are made in USA. I would pay more, a lot more, for American products, including knives. Recently, I tried to find a new toaster and could not find a single one made in USA. Most people don't seem to have the slightest idea that mainland China (People's Republic of China aka PROC) is a communist country and that we were at war with them in the Korean War. We're at war with them right now in the form of an internet espionage digital spy war. There is definitely a danger of this spilling over into a real "hot" war at some point in the future. I'm sorry to get all political here but this is real important. Do you want your children fighting a future war against a country whose economy was built in large part by foolish Americans? Taiwan is a different matter (it's not communist).
I am willing to pay more for an American product. Something else to note: It will be hard for you to maintain the "heritage" appeal of your branding if you shift production, even limited production, to China.
I see why it is a big decision but me personally I have walked away from a lot of mid tech production knives like some esse's based on the fact that they we made in China or some other Asian country (not that I don't like Asian) but I would have to say the smart choice is do it for the money but keep your custom stuff 100% American and you can support both customer base needs and wants. Just be honest with the custom buyer and keep the Asian metal out of it :).... I have a little more of advice based on "my concept" of common sense if you would like to hear it shoot me a p.m.
P.s. I am by no means a professional at this stuff.. but you ask so I talked lol
I think you probably can guess my answer on this one. It is a very big struggle and one I am sure you are taking very to heart. I will tell you that in the marketing trends we have followed there is a much bigger trend now a days on buying products solely made in the U.S. This trend is especially growing with buyers between the ages of 20-40. Younger people are becoming more patriotic and are more likely to spend more on a quality product made here than overseas. When you consider that Benchmade brought all their production back to the U.S. and Spyderco and Kershaw are both increasing their U.S. production, you got to think they know what is going on. I do not envy the position you are in. While I hope you go the way I want you to I understand you have to do what is right for your family first!
After a lot of thought and soul searching we are going to continue to be not only american made, we are going to be made from all american components. This may cost me a few dollars or a few sales but I want to continue to support up and coming and hometown shops. I keep thinking that if people had not given me a chance, I would never been able to grow. I look forward to growing and working with more people in the community and celebrating american made.
Awesome News Dan! Thank you for all that you do! This is the Greatest Country the World has ever seen because of the People in it Working together and the Small Businesses that Built it.

Thanks Again!
I totally support the idea of expanding the business. You can create a lot of job places, and help so many people. I think this is way better than continue supporting small businesses. I’m saying this because the employment market is not good right now. A lot of people lost their jobs because of the pandemic. I was one of them, and I had no idea what to do. I didn’t believe that it is even possible to find something, but I found a new job. I know that the current period is quite uncertain, but I’m thinking of applying for a mortgage. I found a nice place where I would love to live. My friend recommended me to apply through Mortgage Advisor Essex. He said that they helped him to get a lower rate.
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