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How sustainable is CRKT's business model?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Etna, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. Etna


    Jun 17, 2015
    As above. Just curious. Compared to other manufacturers using primarily 8Cr13Mov and AUS-8 steel like Kershaw, CRKT is often significantly pricier than the competition, and I bet a huge portion of the costs is made up of payments to and agreements with their collaborators like Ken Onion, since CRKT do not have any in-house designers.

    So what happens when the designers finally decide to leave CRKT? And how much longer can CRKT keep this up before they finally price themselves out of the average working person's (i.e.: non-enthusiast) budget?
  2. Mo2


    Apr 8, 2016
    people buy that crap. no one knows about blade steel, quality, etc the real world. those folks are the money makers. they goto big box and hunting stores and just pick something that they visually like
    whp, 115Italian, 19-3ben and 4 others like this.
  3. jeffsenpai

    jeffsenpai Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 24, 2010
    I think they will do fine. They have some awesome designs each year, and there are never a shortage of designers coming up with some cool stuff who would love to be approached by a production company for collaboration work. Materials do not matter to the average user, aesthetics do. And that being said, 8cr13mov and aluminum handles work just fine for most uses as well.
    brancron and AtechReviews like this.
  4. Mick_1KRR


    May 1, 2016
    As above, there are tons of common non knife geeks that just buy stuff on appearance, cos it looks cool. They know nothing of steel, lock types, quality, potential issues etc. They know nothing, Jon Snow.
  5. G. Scott H.

    G. Scott H. Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 9, 2006
    They've been around (and quite successful) for over 20 years, and I suspect they still will be 20 years from now.
    matt009au likes this.
  6. Korean Hog

    Korean Hog Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 12, 2017
    Exactly. I worry more about the high end companies than I do companies like that. Their business model is as sustainable as the supercenter department stores, ya know, the ones where you often find mass produced blades.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
    AF likes this.
  7. Final Option

    Final Option Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 11, 2012
    Folks that frequent forums like this are aware of different manufacturers, collaborations between knife maker and manufacturers, steel choices, blade geometry, and a host of other factors that make us decide what knife we purchase. We are a small minority of the buying public for big companies, but a larger customer for higher end products and individual makers.

    That said I have many friends that carry expensive rifles, pistols and shotguns only to see them carry a cheap blister pack Gerber, Smith and Wesson, or Remington Knife. They buy them for the name recognition and they look good with the packaging. Heck one of my friends was showing me his " gas station" knife that said Navy Seal on it and praised its quality all for less than $5.00., of course I did not show him my $300. EDC because he would not understand. So I think CRKT will do fine, the high end producers have a smaller market.
    PirateSeulb and AF like this.
  8. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    Provided that they maintain their reputation with the designers and keep that deal going well, I think they will do fine. I also see them as a gateway for those designers to get some recognition with the wider world, Ken Onion seems to do alright. For every guy who can do it all, there are plenty of guys who really only design, or only have the resources to have a very small output, so the guys who right now have production with CRKT will later on be guys who could be getting lines produced by KaBar and Spyderco, or it could get them enough recognition to sell more of their handmade stuff.
    19-3ben likes this.
  9. Rich S

    Rich S

    Sep 23, 2005
    CRKT will do just fine. Don't forget the average person doesn't know anything about steels, etc. They buy a knife based on brand, cost and (hopefully) to do what they want it to do. For us old geezers, nobody in the 50's-60's or even into the 70's knew anything about fancy steels. Some brands had good reputations or were "the collectible" knife. It was just a matter then that carbon was good and stainless was crap. All this business about fancy steels, etc. is new and basically the only folks that care are those of us in the knife community and IMHO a lot of that is based on snob appeal and big name fancy knives that don't do any better than most low-mid range priced knives. You don't have to sell a kidney to get a good, functional knife. No need to spend $1000 or even $100 to get a good knife - CRKT, Kershaw, Buck, Ontario, Rough Rider, Marbles and "Taylor" Schrades among others are all good working knives.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
    Bigbobg and colin.p like this.
  10. Etna


    Jun 17, 2015
    Unfortunately, that does not change the fact that they are still pricier than the competition.

    Which is actually what I'm getting at. CRKT sells designs.

    To maintain its reputation as a manufacturer of designer knives as well as to keep those designers happy, it needs to compensate the designers appropriately. More designers = more money to pay them. More money to pay the designers = more expensive knives for the same materials and steel.

    Eventually your average user is going to look at the price and think: "This is way too expensive, I'll just pick up an S&W or a Gerber."

    Shameless disclosure: I love some of CRKT's products but am having a hard time justifying the cost for something like an Outrage.
  11. Shorttime


    Oct 16, 2011
    I happen to like CRKT's knives. They were my gateway to "expensive" knives, back when I thought $80 was quite a lot of money.

    I've never paid MSRP. I don't think any (online) retailer charges MSRP for Columbia River's products, either.

    It would seem that CRKT sets their prices very high, so that other knife sellers can offer "discount" prices to consumers, but I'm not sure how this benefits Columbia River. Maybe it means they don't have to worry very much about processing individual orders, which is time-consuming, and requires a lot of man-hours. Instead, monthly electronic deposits are made to their business account, from other retailers, greatly reducing the amount of time and effort that CRKT has to pay their workers for.

    Or maybe I'm just being cynical.

    Collaborations make sense for both the designer and the licensing company, because R&D is an expensive process, and the cost of paying for in-house designs has to be amortized into the purchase price of the knife. By licensing designs from a custom maker, a manufacturer gets a production-ready prototype that they can take apart, and use a training pendant to teach their CNC machines to make, in less than a day. For his (or her), part the custom maker gets name recognition, and a royalty check. As long as they follow-up in proper fashion, a collaboration can be the basis for a successful career as a custom maker.
    matt009au and PirateSeulb like this.
  12. Gafishing

    Gafishing Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Aug 7, 2016
    They'll be fine.
    I go to cabelas and my local army navy store quite often and I see people grabbing the CRKTs all the time. They just like how they look.

  13. deltaboy


    Jul 6, 2014
    They will be fine. My only CRTK is their Hammond Cruiser! It a handful of a folder.
  14. rpn

    rpn Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Mar 17, 2008
    Just got a Rune 'hawk and I'm pretty impressed with it.
  15. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    CRKT knives are designed for guys and gals who are rough with their knives (I don't necessarily mean so-called "hard use" but rather "rough use") and frequently blunt the edges by contacting them with stuff that will dull any knife. Mechanics, contractors, plumbers, people who just play hard, etc. They don't think twice about how they care for their knives, but they're proud enough of their tools to want something cool that isn't total garbage. Since these knives will routinely be blunted no matter what you make them out of, ease of sharpening takes a high priority and so softer steels are the ideal. Most aren't even ever going to sharpen them, but for those who do it makes sense to make it easy to do because they'll be doing it a lot, and probably not with the highest proficiency. They're great knives for that very large market sector.
    3fifty7, matt009au and studio like this.
  16. 22-rimfire


    Nov 20, 2005
    I think CRKT does the knife industry a good service and they do appear to pay their collaborators. The designers/knife makers certainly can't produce enough knives with their name on IF they are popular. The royalties can be substantial on a yearly basis. As to quality and value, that is another issue and one I consider when buying or choosing a knife. The only CRKT knives I own are the Razel reproductions and they do just fine for me in terms of my use.

    I asked Jon Graham (Razel maker) once just how much money we're talking about in terms of royalties. He said for them or him, it was a nice pickup truck a year kind of level, but the makers that had a lot of their designs being made and sold by CRKT, the amount would exceed 6 figures. I consider that pretty substantial for just using a design.

    To answer your question (OP), I think CRKT will continue to do just fine.
  17. gazz98


    Sep 3, 2008
    Even if an established designer leaves CRKT (like K Onion), there will always be a "new kid on the block" to fill their shoes. I would guess CRKT will be ok.

    I wish CRKT would up their blade steels. I'd love to see a M16 or M21 (my favorite of CRKT) with VG10 or 154cm (it doesn't have to be a super steel) + G10.
    3fifty7, Gafishing and Mo2 like this.
  18. Mo2


    Apr 8, 2016
    goto 3:45 in the video. a list of edge retention. any one of those budget steels in the 60+ range will do better. preferably steel in the 100+ range would be idea for midrange steel. if the Chinese these companies (crkt, kershaw etc) do business with can change it up, that would be great. cold steel did it, they can too.


    PURPLEDC Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 4, 2007
    IMHO CRKT either needs to evolve or they will be left out in the cold. Just my opinion but the prices are getting really bad for what you actually get. And the insanely deep discounts they can do on models they are phasing out to me signifies just how over inflated their pricing structure is.
    Miketbass likes this.
  20. PirateSeulb


    Jun 6, 2017
    I got into knives primarily due to a Ken Onion CRKT knife so I don't see why to talk bad about CRKT. They make a good product that can be found and purchased at a reasonable price I would say. I find that CRKT prices compete evenly with Kershaw so I don't think CRKT's price is terribly out of line.
    matt009au likes this.

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