May I Please Vent A Little - I Need To

Joined
Mar 29, 2002
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4,591
I've been really easy going in the past but in the past I wasn't depending entirely on knife making to pay ALL the bills. Before, not very long ago, I was also pulling down the day job. A little slack here and there in money flow, you know, didn't upset the cart. A little screw me here and there didn't come to be noticed so much then. Now things are different. It's all tight now and the bottom line is even more negative than it used to be. Daddy's patience ain't there no more.

Here is part of my bitch - to start, Terry Summers at Admiral steel is super to deal with but what's my luck when I need S30V? Yep, he's out for a couple days and I get this other fellow (will not be named because I'm a nice guy). So I order my almost 100 dollar S30V (including shipping) and get shorted on the steel length (they make you buy a minimum lenghth of Crucible partical steels - for good reason too and that ain't a problem here). Well. after three calls, the last about or more than a month ago, I have yet to either hear back or receive the shortage. Don't get me wrong here; if I had mentioned it to Terry it would have been made riight straight away. I am sure of that. I will not complain to him though because it may cause internal problems for the youngster I dealt with. In the end I will eat it, I am sure of that and as uasual that will be okay with me. You do know what I mean. You are like that too most of the time.

Okay, that is only the beginning and the least of it all if you add it all up. It goes on no matter which way you turn. For instance Brownell's. My credit card is close to being limited and going over the limit is a $30 charge. So that's $30 bucks for convenience only (which I refuse to so foolishly do, again). I have the funds to clear it out but my problem is the mail is slower than the order I need to place. So, I mail the funds to clear the card and it costs me about an extra three days. Then, so, I place my order. I am three days too late. I can do C.O.D.; no problem. The charge for C.O.D. is $7.95. That is a problem too. Paypal. Let's talk Paypal. Greater than 4% on funds received via Paypal. That doesn't seem like much until you realise its greater than 8 dollars on the two hundred and greater than 16 on the 400 hundred.

It comes from the front end, the back end and all the middle parts. In the mean time we are straight up, don't charge an extra dime for all these pennys that we incur against us.

That ain't all. I ain't just finished yet. Let's talk trade deficit. How about foreign duties on our knives? How does about 40% sound. That is about it in the United Kingdom, coming from our country. Your United Kingdom customer can be charged duty on not only the declared value but also the cost of postage and even the cost of postal insurance. Postage and postal insurance costs are charges your customer paid you to pay for him. He can be and in many cases is charged duty on those costs too. Their duties are way too much on declared value alone beside the other blatant spats in our face and our overseas customer's face too. All at the same time we are flushing goods into this, our, country. While this is happening our overseas customers are being raped by their governments for purchasing from us.

We are getting it from all ends and all middles. I speak not only of myself or us knife makers but of all small buisness men in this country. I can honestly say the only part that has not tried to get me is the customer. If all my dealings were with customers only I would be happy.

Well I vented a little and think I feel better for doing so but also feel bad about leaning on all you. I ain't finished bitching but I won't finish here - this time.

Next week we can talk about our buddy IRS.

Thanks.

RL
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2004
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S30V is more expensive. Period. Want great service? Sheffield Steel. No problems, no gripes, well experienced people and no crying on your end. Believe me. Cavelady ;)
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2002
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Cindy, bless your heart, if S30V was my problem I would have no problem. Please re-read the above.

RL
 
Joined
Nov 27, 1999
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3,745
I understand your problem Rodger. The real issue is, it doesn't get any better, ever! As a matter of fact it gets worse.

At some point you will need to look into insurance, Retirement, unemployment benefits, liability insurance.

At every turn and twist someone in a double knit suit wants to screw you.

It's like walking in the mountains. You learn to enjoy the scenery while not stepping on the snakes!

Now you know why I had a heart attack, can't sleep anymore make knives to take my mind off of it.

I also wouldn't trade it for anything!

P.S. I would call Terry. This is strike two for them and they can't afford any more. I realize you are a nice fellow but.....Business Is Business.
 
Joined
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Don, I love ya but don't ya see even you mentioned as a solution what is really part of the problem. Insurance against ourselves. Don't ya see it? Why can't we just take care of ourselves and our neighborhoods as neighbors, like it used to be? It's all gone to waste. All for themselves and all hands out to the authorities for give'me's.

I ain't complaining about me or even worried about me. I am complaining about us. I might bitch and carry on but I am a survivor. It is not I I worry for. It is rather our enterprises I worry for. That is the heart beat of us as a country. But now in all honesty, YES, I was very much complaining about financial hardships incurred from chinky grease ball tactics, some of which is in my imagination and some not. Yes. Sure. It is true and I am upset mainly because I refuse to pass them on to the people that pay me.

RL
 
Joined
Nov 27, 1999
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3,745
I wish it could be like it used to be Rodger. As far as the insurance, I would take my chances except for two things. I have a wife to consider. That's the number 1 reason. Number 2 doesn't have as much effect on you as it does me. If I don't have liability insurance, the Government won't deal with me anymore and most of the larger companies won't either.

As to it being like it used to be.....On my way to my hunting area yesterday, I saw a newer VW Bug on the side of the road. It had it's flashers on and a middle aged woman sitting inside looking upset.

I stopped to see if I could help. The first thing she did was reach around and lock all the doors and told me through a crack in the window, that help was coming for her.

The old days are gone Rodger, Try to conduct yourself as you feel you should, be fair, be honest. Do things yourself like you did in the old days....but don't expect anyone else to.

In other words.... enjoy the scenery....but don't step on the snakes!
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2000
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5,179
Dang Roger I do feel for you. I think Cavelady has a point though, there's no reason to stay loyal to a supplier that's not keeping their end clean. Voting with your dollars is a good thing. I haven't bought gas from Exxon/Standard for over 25 years. There are a number of businesses I don't patronize and in every case I've written them to tell them why. Why? Because if there's no consequence for crappy behavior there will be no incentive to be straight up and the abuses will just get worse. Just my 2c, you get what you pay for around here.

As to all the little hidden charges, you got that right. It's easy to forget all the costs of our business. I'm different a little from many makers, as I'm very analytical and add up every penny. That's how I know I'm making minimum wage in my shop (much less if I add in depreciation on all my tools).

Many sellers add 3% when using PayPal and I can see their point. But I don't; I figure it lets me make some sales I otherwise wouldn't. That's much cheaper - at least over the short run - than setting up and maintaining a merchant account. I've done that and it sucked. PayPal is overall worth the charge, in my opinion. (2c worth. ;) )

I haven't had to deal with overseas duties, and I can understand that all those extra charges would tend to make price pressure on your end. You have to hold your place brother, your customers are intelligent and know what they're doing. If they don't want to pay the import duties, they can find a local maker. If they are willing to spend the extra money for your work, they're doing what they want to. I think I'd just blow this part of it off as much as possible since it's not really your issue and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. Be proud folks are willing to spend it for your work.

All these costs of doing business are real and they've always been there. That's what really gets to me when I hear kids talking about stealing from businesses - they think businesses are rich and that gives them a "right" to rip them off. They have no clue how difficult it is to make even a slim profit, and how much we have to be careful how we arrange out affairs. The businesses that thrive are the ones that acknowledge all their costs and offer a product that is worth a price that will allow them to grow and improve their business. The company I work for has a reputation for making the finest equipment of its kind, and our prices reflect that. The company is totally anal about controlling its costs (though more and more of these are borne by employees, which is a rant I won't start today) and has been successful for almost 175 years. It's something I pay attention to and try to emulate in my own little way. And so do you.

Roger don't be afraid to charge a living wage for your work. I know there's such a thing as paying dues to get your name out there and build some demand that'll support better prices, but if you don't make ends meet on every project you'll end up struggling. Bruce Evans once told me to charge what I think my work is worth and stick to it, that someone will eventually pay your fair asking price. That's been good advice and I've followed it religiously. I don't make much on the knives I sell but I'm very careful to cover all my costs and pay myself a token wage. I'll work to develop some of the demand you're enjoying and start to pay myself more as time goes on. Meanwhile I'm going to ensure that all my work is profitable.

Hang in there man, you are worth your prices; just make sure they support your life or you'll end up getting a job again and that would surely be hard to take now. Never short change yourself, your work is worth a decent living wage.
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2003
Messages
2,762
Yeah, Roger, it's more than just a little bit of going against the grain! I mailed the payment and included the extra $$$ for the quick delivery of some supplies from a knife supply house, one I have been doing business with for some time. Well, the supplies arrived about 3 weeks late, and a bill for another $8! Yes, I'm still pi$$ed, and wondering what is going on in these people's heads, especially when they get the money up front. You certainly have solid grounds for being pi$$ed off. You think our gvt cares about fair trade practices? I haven't done any foreign sales of my knives, but I think it would be more aggravation than it's worth, in many respects. I don't want to even think of the IRS, either. Sometimes nice guys like Roger finish last, but not in quality!
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2002
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Call me stuborn Don but as soon as I read the part where you mention "the government won't deal with me any more" was quite enough. I remember, and thank God I am old enough to, living in Pennsilvania back in about the mid sixties. It was pretty much (say about 80%) Italian neighborhood. Not just the block or street but for some number of blocks. I will never forget a poor lady which my mother had never met but did live only a street away knocking on our door and telling my mother that her her young daughter had died in a traffic wreak the night before. Things of that sort and trust and warmth of that level is not experienced here anymore. I do remember well that place, where people shared amongst themselves both the good and the bad and were never backward about it or ever felt a reason for being backward about it. Those days are gone. There are a few communities I suppose but in this, generally speaking, it is gone.

That is all for me.

RL
 
Joined
Nov 24, 1999
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4,981
I know where your coming from Roger, money just sucks. No matter what you do somebody has to get their peice and the peice is always getting bigger. And in a lot of cases, like overseas shipping, who the hell are they to think they deserve it? You've already paid for the service of getting it there, and its not like they helped you make it. Its just a matter of the powers that be are greedy and always want a peice of the action.

I see the same stuff everyday, tenfold, by going to college. Campus has been gutted and they are replacing all of the old stuff with multi million dollar buildings (literally every corner has an ongoing project) that are largely funded by grants. Many of them are to be used by independant researchers instead of students, or students will serve as cheap labor (sometimes subjects) in the research. They just decided to build us a recreation facility, again lots of grants to pay for it. And yet, they are replacing the old free facility with this one that comes with a user fee for the students. You think I asked for a new place to play basketball? Nope.
Overall the university shows profit every year, but tuition has raised every year since I started. This is my third year and tuition has increased by 34% since I started. They cry that they aren't getting enough and add on extra charges like a technology fee for upkeep of the computers ($250 and I only had access to a couple labs that were no where near my classes) Costs me $90 a year to park 2 miles from cental campus and $12 a year to get to ride the bus. Don't even get me started on required $100 books you read one chapter of.
And now most people have to pack thier bags and find a new school if they want to do any graduate stuff becuase the university would like to be more "prestigious"

Its everywhere. The company my dad works for posted its highest profits of any quarter ever and then cut head count by thousands cause they aren't doing very well.

In the end, as sick as it seems you have to put yourself first and worry about your own best interests. Its sink or swim and everyone's too busy paddling to help you along. Be as nice as you can but don't eat any expenses you can't afford. Somebody always has to pay and sometiems its best to spread it around.
 

Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

ilmarinen - MODERATOR
Moderator
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Aug 20, 2004
Messages
34,634
Rodger, You have my sympathies.It won't get better anytime soon,though.If you let it get to you it will eat you up.Call Terry Summers and discuss the problem,Admiral will make it right.FYI getting S30V direct from Crucible may be cheaper and faster.
In my business its the customers that make it rough.We always say," Retail wouldn't be so bad,if you didn't have to deal with the customers!"
SA
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2002
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4,591
Big John, I am so glad you showed up. Please email me your phone number. YEP, I lost it again!!! It is way past time for us to have another Pow-Wow. I want to call you. Give me a good time when you email that number.

Roger
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2004
Messages
3,419
Rlinger, I do understand too much of what you are talking about. PayPal I wouldn't ever touch again and we don't for the same reasons. Retirement and health insurance? Nope. You are a knifemaker...a self made man. when your patience runs out it effects every one in your household and puts a big strain on all relationships to the point you can't even stand yourself anymore. I don't know how long you have been doing this but it doe's get better. Your suppliers that you know you can depend on help alot. Oh could I tell you stories but every one who has ever walked this path has their own. Take care of yourself mister. :) :) :)
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2002
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4,591
Please, it ain't Admiral or the smiddly little bit of steel. It is a picture I was trying to paint. I was only using that as a very small example of a much larger picture. A knife's blade worth of steel is not going to hurt anyone. It is the culmination of pennys that kill us. I now wish I had not used Admiral as part of the examples. I like Admiral. I will continue to buy from Admiral. I will continue to speak well of Admiral (kind of feel down here though on that). Admiral is one of my favorite steel sources and I have bought more steel from Admiral than any other.

I was just painting a picture and the inclusion of the Admiral thing was only a pixel. OKAY? I could have chosen something else. I have plenty more, some even spicier.

RL
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2002
Messages
4,591
Finally, much to my amazement, a lady (Cindy) steps in with a little reasoning.

But still yet I am a bit aggravated at myself for writing as I did. It reads too boo-hoo about myself and that was not my intention. I suppose I wrote it too first person. I used myself as the example. I mean it as a composite, and I am the living example. Perhaps that is where I got off track in responding to some of the posts. Perhaps I had forgotten how self centered the original post may have been written. For that I stand in error. But I'm still bitch'n - except now for all us.

I did notice one big thing, actually the very biggest thing I spoke of. No one yet jumped on the trade deficit. That is the biggie. All other things I cried about were small pennies that add up to hurt us. The trade deficit does it in dollars. Not just that but it also deprives our friends across the borders of our craftsmanship. It's real easy guys and gals. We do a whole lot of selling back and forth within the family, here at home, and at the same time we do a whole lot of buying from outside. But nobody can buy from us like we can buy from them. Why? Because comparatively we do not penalize incoming and they do heavily penalize incoming from us, and mostly us. Why? Because we as a country have become a financial whore. You don't like. I don't either. It is true non the less..

Roger
 
Joined
Apr 4, 2001
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1,803
Not sure what to add here Roger other than I think we are all a bit saddened by the fact the sense of close neighborhood is gone for many of us. On the other hand, the opportunity to socialize beyond the neighborhood is amazing -- take one of our regulars here, Ivan from Brazil. When we were growing up, that never would have happened so it's not all bad. I think money was just as much of an issue back than as it is today, we were kids so we didn't know about the problems but my mother tells me about it. Remember pancakes for supper several nights in a row?
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2002
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4,591
I still ain't finished yet after all. I'll tell ya something else that really gripes me. All those years before the mid ninties UPS strike I was a super champion of theirs. There was no one that could compare to either a UPS driver or the company itself. Now I don't mind hitting hard here. This ain't Admiral I'm speaking of now. I like Admiral. I used to look up to UPS as a corporation and also to its fantastic drivers. I was in owe of that outfit. No more. Since the strike of the mid nineties it has become, compared to what it was, the pits. Absolutely not the same corporation in performance. Only as one example, they ceased servicing home business as a business. Then, of course they ceased accepting cash for C.O.D.. I know. FedEx did that long before UPS, but that ain't the point. The point is they, UPS, were (I write as it is ploral because of all the drivers I used to admire) outstanding above all the rest - until after the strike (stroke is more like it). All you, all you that mail in and out know what I speak is true. Now you are lucky if UPS will accept your company check even if the sender specifies company check accepted. I have switched from 100 percent UPS to all of that 100 percent I can possibly do with the US Postal Service. All this since the UPS strike. I mean it (UPS) changed from the very best imaginable to the absolute worse choice of all - over night - within a week of strike ending.

UPS was the very best ever in my book. They had no better bragger for them than I. They no longer exist. The Brown ads ain't going to get them back either and a fact is the Brown ads are pointed directly away from us anyhow. It's the drivers. It's all with the drivers and what they are allowed or disallowed to do. Treating the heart of this country, small household buisiness, as if they are only home shoppers won't get it. It never woiuld have before either. This is all new. This is the first time ever the heart of the enterprise has been treated as less by carriers. Even the US Postal Sevice knows better, and that says bunches about UPS insight and its union control and self destruction. When I use that term of course I mean it only in the door to door sense. Watching them shows they are flirting and trying to cort a mostly warehouse service. Bunches of boxes all in fewer locations.

I got more. I'll no doubt be back but I'll leave UPS rest now for good, except to say that I never deliver anything to UPS unless I absolutely have to and I never wish a UPS shippment unless I have no option of US Postal Service delivery. That says alot too when you consider my immense conservative turn. Yeah, I get UPS shipments and wish I did not gave to.

RL
 
Joined
Jul 15, 2003
Messages
385
It's good to hear some of the more realistic side of knifemaking, as so much is glossed over for the appeal of the blade. Knifemaking is a business, and we all evidently share some of these horror stories. I've got to say, though, knifemaking's been good to me for over twenty years, and full-time for the last 15...
It's paid the mortgages, vehicles, ex-wives, etc, and I really can't complain.
I understand your frustration, RL, imagine mine when I ordered some steel from Sheffield many years ago and worked it into a dozen or so very elaborate blades and it turned out to be low carbon and unhardenable! They treated me like I didn't know what I was doing. Wasted a heck of a lot of time and effort, and they wouldn't even consider that their batch had a bad bar. Then, I finished a very nice dagger with some steel from Admiral, and when I was buffing it, I saw a little mark, which quickly became a HOLE, and then a series of HOLES! What do I tell a client? "It's not my fault, it's the manufacturers?" Truth is these and other companies are doing their best, in a changing market.
We must adapt or die...
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2002
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4,591
Jay,

You reminded me. That is a real horror tale. A steel that can not harden. After all that hard work. I can not say that I have been victim of that, yet, but I have tried to heat treat a couple of blades made by different makers that turned out like that. One was a drop dead beautiful grind from a cable forging. It was sold to the fellow as, I am thinking like 1095 but can't remember for sure, a high carbon. He tried to HT it himself without success and then had a sample analysed. It was supposed to have tested something like 0.47% carbon. No matter what I tried I couldn't take it past mid 20's HRc. It was really sad for me and I know it was sad for sure for him. It was a real nice grind. The other one was a blade someone ground for someone else who sent it to me as being O1. It was not. It was not anything except a piece of mild steel. That was another tough one to break the news but at least in that case I knew the customer (one time customer only) was not the one that sweated over it thinking it was something it was not.

Man, its got to be tough busting your gut perfecting a few blades to find out later that you might as well have been grinding paper.

Roger
 
Joined
Jul 15, 2003
Messages
385
Roger, luckily, that's only happened to me twice in over 24 years. Sure, guys will bring you "unknown" steel all the time, swearing it's got to be special because it's tough as nails. But you won't know until you do a test, if it's even able to be annealed and worked, and rehardened. And what kind of pro uses unknown steel? My clients, particularly military, want "Laboratory grade" assuredness in their knives. So what's the point of scrounging and saving a few bucks if you aren't certain?
Lately, I've bought a lot of steel from Ken Mcfall at K and G. It's always been just what they say it is.
Here's a sneaky for you: there is a company making folders and tactical knives that etches on their blades: "ATS-34" and a military client asked me why the edge "rolled over." I did a hardness test and found out the steel was about 35Rc ! We took the blade for analysis, and they didn't know what the steel was, just that it wasn't ATS. This is a MAJOR company who farms blades and components out to child labor in Pakistan. There is no law preventing the letters "ATS-34" to be used as a model number, or lot number, or simple decoration on a knife blade. The only thing that can't be used is a (kt) symbol! This company is illustrative of so many in our industry who focus on the bottom line at all costs, and are really directed by bean counters.
 
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