BM distribution , who cares ?

Walt Welch brought up a sore spot with me concerning Benchmades distribution methods.Read his post in the "if you could tell a manufacturer something thread"The
fact that most people are nowhere near a storefront dealer and BM's new models are not
widely available on the net has made me loose interest in their product.Even if BM offered
M2 as an option,I am not willing to play phone tag all over the country for the privilege of paying full retail for their latest offerings.I would feel like a chump.Now it is perfectly alright to want one bad enough to jump through hoops to get it.I am just curious as to how many
potential sales BM is losing because of this policy or how many people don't care one way or the other.
Oct 2, 1998
I covered this very issue with Greg Moony of Benchmade on the phone and in person at last years Shot Show. His reply was that Benchmade feels their products are best represented by store front owners. I laughed and said that the internet dealers are much more knowledgable than any store front dealer I have ran accross. He then expressed that another concern was the pricing issue. I then said that the pricing issue was the real concern and that the better representation story was BS and yes I used the actuall words.

Anyway if I want to promote a product which must be talked about in more detail I will look more towards the internet to help me get my story out. The Stealth Cheyenne is such a piece. All my customers have equal access to my products and always will unless other issues come up.

Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Do it! Do it right! Do it right NOW!

I have not purchased another Benchmade product since McWillis left. Same applies to Spyderco since their recent change.
I'm softening on Spyderco because I like Sal and he obviously is learning something possibly not mentioned by his marketing personnel ( The Internet Dealers Rule).

Talk is cheap. Free speech is not.


I agree with you! I there are no decent stores here with BM knives at decent prices, so I either wait for a show to come through town or go to the internet. Still haven't seen any Axis locks over teh internet through dealers.

Was at the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife show this weekend and saw M2 AFCKs for the same price as the ATS-34 ones! Around $75 No difference at all! Yet the few places online, they are still over $100. Something isn't right here.


Clay Fleischer

"10,000 Lemmings Can't Be Wrong!"
The future of this business IS the internet,
whether producton or custom.

Given Benchmade's retail prices, varying quality, large prod numbers, and uninspiring designs, it's no surprise that many dealers discount their products. And with MT and MOD price points's and innovative well executed designs, Benchmade cannot hope to compete at the retail price level.

They will only be able to sell to the unknowledgeable public who just wants to pick up a knife or a gift for someone in store fronts located in metropolitan areas and perhaps in remote areas where people like to deal first hand with someone they know and are leary of buying on the internet.

Will this strategy move provide enough revenue for them to continue this policy? Tough question. Lower volume, but higher profit margin. We'll see. Maybe a year of poor revenue showing will cause them to reconsider. Production cutbacks will mean a reduction in workforce (a risky savings since Benchmade's domestic work force is an investment and barely up to speed) and then there's still all that new expensive cnc equipment to pay for.

It'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

Personally, I also think established custom makers in the $400 - $500 range (tactical folders) are in trouble.

Ron Knight

[This message has been edited by RKnight (edited 25 January 1999).]
*I* care. About Benchmade, or any other entity or person in the knife industry. If some company, or some person is doing something which is having a seriously harmful effect on their business, without being conscious of it, I CARE.

I think that I have an obligation, in such a situation, to alert the person or business to the harmful effects their actions are having. If they don't want to listen, then that is their prerogative. I, however, have fulfilled my moral responsibility by bringing the matter to their attention.

I have nothing against Les de Asis, or BM, or, for that matter, against any one in the knife industry. Again, Les recently proved to me that he is polite and well meaning; his answer to my questions about ATS-34 demonstrated that.

I feel it is a shame when anyone inadvertantly suffers harm from their actions. In the case of BM, it may lead to a decrease in market share of serious degree.

what's the difference to BM if you buy the 710 now at a retail store, or later from an internet dealer? seriously, how does this effect BM at all?
btw, the 710 is, imo, the highest quality production folder out there - including microtech. they are worth as much as any microtech, imo.

We should all care. After all if the manufacturers get turned on to these forums, they may learn a lot about what knife enthusiast really want, as well as new designs.
I care
. I have to rely on the internet for my knife purchases. By the time the few imports that do make it "downunder" reach here, they are way overpriced, what with freight, duty and the exchange rate. I won't buy a knife unless I can get it at a good price on the internet, so Benchmade has gone right off my wish list. I would also need to be convinced that they had overcome their quality problems before I ordered a Benchmade knife, it is just too much of a hassle to send a knife back from here. I guess the point of this post is that the internet is a global marketplace and it will take manufacturers with foresight to exploit its potential.

Take care,

Some people make things happen, some watch while things happen, and some wonder "What happened".

Personally I believe that the only reason Benchmade gives a hoot about retail price is that there is probably a lobby of fairly powerful store-front types who see their market share slipping away bit by bit to the net stores. Benchmade sells wholesale to various distributors at varying price points depending on volume (I'm guessing here, but this is pretty standard business practice)so they probably don"t REALLY care what their retail turns out to be; EXCEPT...
they care about the perception of their products being "cheap" and thus making it even harder for the storefront guy to sell a $150-200 knife to the average ELU (gotta love that marketing-speak, eh
) who doesn't "see" the difference between the BM and a "Fury" knife for $30. Anyway, the aforementioned lobby could exert a lot of pressure to try and keep the net low margin guys outa the picture. Just my .02.
If their products don't sell on the Internet, and are not widely available, folks will find others and lose interest in the brand that's inaccessable (especially long time customers), simple as that - IMO.

Reminds me of the cigar boom of a few years ago. Long time smokers (me) can't get the cigars they've been smoking for years on a regular basis, quality goes down, prices go up - the "regular" free market demand "thing" (mfg.'s gouge the public to reap maximum short term gains). Long time customer finds other cigars that satisfy his needs, the boom ends, the long time customer isn't a customer anymore - in fact he says "kiss my a.." <grin> when they try and push his old product on him because now there's an over supply.

Different product, same difference.
I agree that the Internet is the ditribution wave of the future. Benchmade will have to reconcile itself to that at some point in the not too distant future, or the loss in sales will overcome the increase in margin for their dealers.

I happen to agree with Marco about the 710 Axis lock relative to the SOCOM. By my criteria, it is actually a better knife than the SOCOM, and it is about $50 cheaper from a dealer than a SOCOM is over the Internet.

Additionally, though I know the new distribution policy has made it harder for some people in rural areas to get Benchmade products, I personally have had no problem.

You are absolutely right in terms of those of us who don't live near major metropolitan dealers. My daughter and son-in-law got hosed by the only BM retailer in our area and I found the exact same knives on the Net for a heck of a lot less. The local dealer fed them the old I only ordered 2 of these 975s with the titanium treatment - if you want the one I'm not selling you better buy it before it disappears. He didn't even give them a discount for cash. To tell you the truth I thought Sarah and Marvin were idiots for at least not checking a little before spending the money.
Brian E
I used to smoke La Unica Cigars. They were my favorite for the past ten years. When their price increased to $4.50-$5.00 ea, I switched to several other cigars that were just as good, and alot less in price.
Now that the La Unica's are back....who cares ?

With how many of the products that we buy - necessities or luxuries - do we have rather open and sometimes passionate discussion of matters like distribution channels, and who kicked over whose rice bowl? Sometimes it's as if we were arguing religion and politics.

An automobile is a huge investment compared to all but the very most elite of investment-grade knives, and a very important thing to have, but I haven't the foggiest idea about who did what for or to whom between the factory and the dealer.

That said, there are products where I maintain a lonely boycott, more for my satisfaction than for any negligable damage I might to to the enemy, on issues concerning tyranny and old or new blood debts and such. My annoyance at this or that tactic of various manufacturers (not just Benchmade or Spyderco) who try to curb deep discounting, or my annoyance at other brands (i.e. Leatherman) when I see them being sold to the public for a dollar less than what I have to pay a distributor wholesale, is not in the same league.


Walt - Thanx for the Email. Sorry for the late reply, SHOT show & all. I thought to bring up the original thread so anyone new can see some of the history. I pretty much stayed off of this thread because it seemed to be a BM question, which I am not qualified to reply.

Lester and I go back to the pre Clipit days(1980). We are personal friends, allies, and also competitors. We do share our business problems, so I cannot speak for Benchmade.

I will however speak as a manufacturer of high quality knives and will share some views. I specify "High quality" because I do not see much discussion on cheap knives or knock offs.

Those of us that are involved in trying to make as good of a product as we can for you!

We have our product design, our product quality, our marketing and sales, we have our channels of distribution, we have our customer service. With these "platoons", we compete to please you, the ELU.

You vote with your dollars, you vote with your loyalty, you vote with your "word of mouth" communication.

We "Guess" at which way will work best in each area. Today's strategies may not have worked yesterday and they may not work tomorrow.

I can assure you that a manufacturer does not make radical changes when there are no problems. Refinements?, yes, improvements? yes, but radical changes? no. When radical changes are made, obviously someone was percieving problems that in their opinion required radical change. Be it in pricing, distribution method or designs.

you must also keep in mind that there was a goal. That goal influenced their direction. For you to ask the question, "Right or wrong?" implies that your goal was the same as theirs. Their solution may have served "their" goal, even if it didn't serve yours. To say whether or not they "learned their lesson" is to assume that they did not achieve "their" goal. Only time will tell. If the changes created did not create the goal desired, I can say that another solution will probably be attempted.

It is not a "war" between the manufacturer and the ELU, just difficulties in solving the myriad of problems. "Manufacturers are from Jupiter and ELUs are fom Saturn".

I believe it was well said by the president of Toyota, "The competition is never over. Even if you complete and win today, you must again compete tomorrow".

When we make the "right" choices, we reach our goals. When our choices prove to be "less effective" (wrong), we find a more effective solution or perish. Such is the "life and death" of business.

It is quite likely that the Internet will affect a great deal in human's world. Please remember, no one threw away their autos when the Wright Bros invented controlled flight. One can still buy pencils and paper in the world of Computers.

We are watching all that is going on as you are and as I'm sure the manufacturers are. Sometimes we influence the market, sometimesd we are influenced by the market. Rest assured that we all being swept along in this river of time and today is the only thing that is "really" new. Tomorrow is a new adventure in the world of knives. Sometimes it's Shakespear and sometimes it's Disney. Enjoy the time. Sorry for the rant.

The only problem I have found with Benchmade's decision, made in Dec '97, was that attacking a problem with such radical change made what appears to be more problems. Although they may have achieved a level of success not found in many cutlery companies, most felt that this decision hurt those who actually helped Benchmade the most, the distributors. However a few distributors who decided to compete amongst each other by having price wars ruined it for all, myself included!

A new policy to help contol the end price was put in place. Did it work? Nope you still find BM products at the very same price as over a year ago in most places.

Also many of the new policies are now hurting the ELU who visits this site as many rely on the internet as their primary source for knives. No store means you can not deal direct with Benchmade and even then if that store has a web site they are told they can not sell the product. They can not get the new products or the special products which the internet buyer wants and is more educated about. They said the problem was the dealers. The main issue was the low prices for which the internet dealers must sell at to get the business. They sell at about 15% below the average store. That appears to be the necessary price they feel will overcome the problems they face. Like shipping, time and the no touchy feely before buying.

As I stated before their are many ways to solve what are actually simple problems and the main one can be solved through education. An educated dealer can ask a higher price and get it. The manufacturers can help the dealers through education. Not just product knowledge but how to sell, how to promote and how to get the extra profit margin necessary to maintain a stronger business presence.

Heck we could have a meeting at the Blade Show to educate dealers on how to promote their business. If this meeting was sponsored by enough manufacturers they could all learn from each other and see that both the dealer and the manufacturer are actually facing very similar problems. I find it amusing that I still have the very same problems I had when I was doing gun shows! I solved most of those problems so when I see them again I can combat them with vigor, although on different level than before.

A well thought out meeting with dealers would be a great step in the right direction and I am sure the dealers would love it. They would be able to see what the manufacturers must go through to bring a product to market to only have it knocked off or sold so cheap that it can no longer be profitable for anyone. Either way both the manufacturer and the dealer loses. This meeting would be a win win situation for all involved.

Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Do it! Do it right! Do it right NOW!

Mike - When and where is this dealer training meeting? Do you have a plan? Will you host the meeting if manufacturers sponsor it? What is required for sponsorship?

We have been aware of this problem/concept for several years now. Any attempts made to solve the problem have become dormant for one reason or another. Naturally our own planned dealer "edge-u-cation" was built around training them about Spyderco, but our info would be "honest, fair & proper". No hype, "just the facts, mamm". Not a problem for us, we make pretty good stuff, but you do get what you pay for, most of the time. Not every one wants a Jaguar.

This is also part of the goal for AKTI - educating the world that knives are not bad. The dealers play an important part in this education.
We're listening....

Talk to Les and the rest of AKTI. I think a dealer/manufacturer meating would be a great thing that AKTI could sponsor. All we would need is a meating room. I would be happy to help out. A well structured meating with guest speakers and preset subjects of discussion would be a great thing. I know if I was a dealer I would attend. We could discuss the meating agenda between now and then via conference calls and the like or even a forum just for manufacturers and dealers so issues which are not relevant to the ELU could be discussed.

We could make it a co sponsored event as well. What ever works for you works for me.

Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Do it! Do it right! Do it right NOW!