Thank You - To all of you

Fiddleback

Knifemaker
Moderator
Dealer / Materials Provider
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
19,586
Yesterday at the Georgia Guild meeting, which was excellent as always, there was a guest speaker. The man in question was a hall of famer, a real industry mover, a foundation member of the knife community, a peer of the all time greats. I disagreed with almost everything he said. In his speach he described how not to run a knife business, and laid out almost exactly my business plan. Don't rely on internet, tour around doing shows, support small shows. If you only do the big shows and internet, your business won't work. Name the business after yourself or "you probably shouldn't be making knives".

When I hear a formidable person make a point that I think is utterly wrong, I have to consider that it is me that is wrong instead. But I never got there. I want y'all to know that I don't have ANY regrets for how I started my business, right here at Bladeforums, sharing my posts and selling knives to people I consider real friends. I think I have made more and better friends HERE (I'm talking about yall) than I ever would have going from small show to small show. It makes me feel quite blessed.

Anyway, I'm used to doing things wrong and being told I'm bassackward. I heard it about micarta bolsters and phenolic pins. I heard it about convex grinds. I've heard it endlessly over choosing to use carbon steel. I heard it when I put orange liner material under jade g-10. I also heard it over the beautymark pin, and I do regret not continueing to do them. I heard it a lot over not charging for the apprentice program.

He said that doing all those small shows is called paying your dues. It is a lot of work, but I like to think I have paid my dues in front of a grinder. Still do and I will continue to do so until y'all stop caring about my work.

So thank y'all from the bottom of my heart. The reason I do this is because of you, the reason I did it the way I did was because of you, and I'm just going to keep on keeping on till y'all say stop. May 1 2019 will make 10 years full time. Its a start and I'm still scrapping.

BTW, he did say most knifemakers don't market enough, and I did agree that was a typical problem with knifemaker business plans.
 
Joined
Jun 17, 2013
Messages
1,015
Andy, the success of your business, the many makers you have mentored and supported, the high esteem in which your craftsmanship is regarded and the fact that many of your new and return customers count you as a friend speak for themselves. Rock on Buddy , Rock on!
 

Tutone

Gold Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2017
Messages
510
You are the reason why I joined BladeForums in the first place. The Internet and this website are the only way I can buy your fricken awesome knives and many from your former/present Apprentices!
Keep on keeping on Andy
 
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Nbrackett

Gold Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2015
Messages
3,147
In an industry where most can’t make it full time and support a family you not only do that but employ 5-6 others as well. Why would you follow their business model?

Also, I’m not in a financial position to purchase like I once was so it would be easy to walk away but the community that has been fostered here is what keeps me around. I have friends that I chat with almost daily that I would have never connected with going to the one or two shows that might come my way.
 

bikerector

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Nov 16, 2016
Messages
5,357
While the speaker probably has been successful, there's certainly different ways to do things and be successful. I would almost think the shows are an antiquated thing but I don't know how attendance is over the years. It's like big companies refusing to use social media as a marketing platform because it's not "what we've always done."

I also have to think if everyone did things the way the speaker did then there would be excessive competition among everyone there and nowhere else because there is only the one way (in theory) of running this type of business. Not saying it wouldn't work but it seems like you would simply playing the odds of getting noticed among everyone else in the shows instead of doing things different to get noticed.

Frankly, I think you've made a niche' for yourself making a very good product and a unique product such that when someone sees a fiddleback knife they generally know it's a fiddleback or at least could guess it is. I feel like busse has a similar niche' lately. Make good shit (or not but price accordingly), get it in front of people, price it so they're willing to buy and you're able to make a profit from it. The basics of marketing.

I'll be honest, I haven't bought your work because it's outside of my budget currently but I will eventually. Or I'll get lucky and get something used finally.
 
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Wild Bill 1

Gold Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2013
Messages
272
Andy there is a small glass case in my front room filled with misc knives starting with my cub scout knife .There is a story about the person who made or where it came from .If someone had a week or so i could tell most of them .Andy one of yours is in there . A bush something or other.The knife folks I have met in my 66 years are good folks and you are good folks .Please keep helping new makers and showing your how to photos .If your ever out in Idaho , drop me a line . I will buy you a couple drinks and share some tails of the fine knife makers I have known .Thanks for the knife .Wild Bill
 

Bmurray

Gold Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2012
Messages
6,913
I'm just your friend because you have an awesome wife and because Dylan @Fletcher Knives told me I had to be, just to be his friend. So I guess you're stuck with me.

Seriously, you're a good friend, love your knives and the community around the brand. I would've never met and friended so many good people if it weren't for "The Forge".

I love you man!

 
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MTBmonkey

Gold Member
Joined
May 18, 2017
Messages
339
Andy, I'm sorry that I actually don't know you. But I've seen you in interviews several times and honestly, the thing that stands out to me the most is your humility and gratitude. You wear it right on your sleeve bro and its obvious...that's a big deal where I come from. You certainly make a great knife and clearly you have influenced a whole culture of gifted knife makers that have worked with you and around you. But with that success, you are still very humble and honoring to other makers and your community every time I have heard or read your comments. You just seem to me like a genuine and authentic dude...the real deal!!! It shows in your 'business decisions' as well. I think that resonates with a lot of people and you have a loyal, respectful client base (more than just $) because of it. That's a formula that some business savvy folks won't understand until they experience it themselves. I definitely like your knives (well most of 'em LOL) ...but I like your knives, and even your apprentice's knives for that matter, even more after getting to know about you. I love supporting makers like that!! It may not matter so much to some....but it matters to me. Much respect to you, my friend!!! Fist bump...bro hug...you know what I mean!
 
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Joined
Aug 21, 2008
Messages
306
Sir:
I don’t know you personally either, but, the people who have worked with you tell your story well, with their products & reverence for you. That says it all. I spent decades in the luxury car business, & I can tell you that no one buys a luxury product because they have to. People want to buy the best. Of course, not all of us can, but we all want the feeling that comes with buying & owning the Best. Purchasing a Fiddleback is just such an experience. Special. An event. Product is King. We are all in the “results” business, & your results speak for themselves. Period.

As for your guest speaker, it appears that he may have been co-opted by the ‘Corporate Consultant Class,’ to whom Process is Everything. Success is how you define it, no one else.
 

ndmiller

Platinum Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2015
Messages
1,613
Thank you for making such nice knives and making them available to us. :)

+1, and glad I found you guys up the road (now a little more up the road) from me. Obviously there isn't one way to run any business and the paying dues thing more relates to the hard learning process when one steps into a new endeavor. Thanks again for all you do!
 

RobbieB

Gold Member
Joined
Jul 13, 2017
Messages
611
Many thoughts I had upon reading your post Fiddleback Fiddleback have already been expressed by others, some bear repeating though. There’s not just one way to run a business in this industry, or any other for that matter. For someone to say otherwise, especially in the forum you mentioned, was grossly inaccurate and irresponsible — no matter how much respect the individual is due. If Fiddlebacks were only sold at shows, my collection would be only a fraction of what it is today. So, I thank you Andy, for all you have contributed and for running your business the right way for you, your employees, your apprentices and all of us here.
 
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Wurrwulf

Gold Member
Joined
Dec 3, 2015
Messages
2,899
I've, unfortunately, only been able to purchase one knife directly from you, Andy. The 5 others that I've owned have all been purchased/traded for second hand. My financial situation doesn't allow for me to buy as many as I wish I could, but I've worked so hard to get my hands on your knives specifically because of your business model.

The community you've cultivated online; your openness to your followers with your knife designing, crafting, and suggestions; your selflessness with sharing your craft via apprenticeships; and your desire and willingness to give back have made me a fan. I've pushed your brand both on and off the forums because of your business model.

A knifemaker's knives will speak for themselves, and your's are highly spoken of for a reason. But, there are a lot of good-to-great knifemakers out there; everything you do outside of your knives it what makes you a success, in my opinion.

Keep on keeping on, man. You're kicking ass.
 

LostViking

Gold Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
3,186
Well Crap!

I was going to post a little Cheerio to Fiddleback Outpost today or tomorrow. But since you guys are moving and shaking together. I will do it here and include you both.

I grew up pushing dirt. I was an excavator/logger. I was good at it. I'm told maybe the top 5% of the country.

But I got talked into trying sales. Heavy equipment sales. I suck as a salesman. In meetings, I was always the outcast. Everybody was in Dockers and loafers, I was in White Smoke Jumpers and Carhartts.

But oddly I was always in the top 5% of salesmen. Many years I was the top producer. I wasn't some slick sales guy with a line of BS. I listened, and I cared. Customers bonded with me because I could walk the walk.

I had guys, who when I showed up said they couldn't meet with me as planned, because their help called out. So I dug ditch or laid pipe with them for the day.

I never worried about the big things because I tried to control all the little things. You control all the little things.

I was going to give kudos to Fiddleback Outpost today. Because of the way their boxes arrive.
Something so simple, yet so cool. On the inside of the box is the knife description, the price, date of purchase, and other pertinent information. Something so simple, yet no one else does it.
I mean how cool is that? Not sure when you bought it? Look at the box. Not sure how much you paid?, look at the box. So cool.

Andy,
It's the little things that make you great, not the home runs. You are on base all the time. That is what wins games.

I made a very good living out of base hits. Let the cool guys chase the elephants.

Jerry Garcia is a prime example. The man gave away Grateful Dead CDs at every concert. And Cassettes before that.

All the industry geniuses said he was a moron for doing that. And that he would never make any money. Jerry just loved music. He wanted to share his gift. I think he did pretty well in the end, despite what the "Experts" said. He cared, you care. People pick up on that.

The other end of the spectrum is this.
When folks called in trouble. I always answered my phone. Even if it was four in the morning. Even if I knew I was goung to get my butt chewed off. The word spread quickly, that I wouldn't walk away. Folks knew that one call to me made their problems go away.

You stand by your product. That is why Fiddleback Forge is where it is today. Not because of some slick Marketing Guru told you how to take people's money.

Every purchase, every one, with the possible exception of milk and toilet paper is an emotional one. Folks may justify their purchases rationally with specs and charts. But the decision to pull the trigger is an emotional one. Plain and simple.

People may rationalize their purchases with Rockwell numbers, or steel choices, but they bought that knife with their heart. You connect with people. That is why you are where you are.

Success means different things to different people. Look at SOG. They sold their soul. Corporate bean counters destroyed a once great company. Maybe some folks are richer, but are they successful?? Not in my mind.

I think you are doing just fine. If your bills are paid, and your family is fed. The rest will come.
You and your knives are top tier kit. Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. I have Randalls, Martins, Skookums, Winklers, and everything else under the sun. Your knives meet or exceed everything else.

It's your race, run it as you see fit.

One last thing before I go to bed.
Your team!
Man, you can't do it all by yourself. You have an excellent team. Fiddleback Outpost answers his phone or email when things need fixing. He is there when you need him.

Vance deserves a raise. He is always here. He monitors and replies, he cares. Nine at night or six in the morning, he is here, what is that worth? These people are hard to find.

Listen to you peers. Extract what info you can. But don't get steered in directions you don't want to go. Someday when you are bored. Read about Henry Ford and what the "Experts" of the time thought about his business model.
 

swonut

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Jan 1, 2007
Messages
1,414
I still think there is an book in there somewhere.... Especially about bridging the gap between making stuff starting out and growing a business with employees and such... Plenty about how to sell your stuff on etsy or eBay, but little about how to grow from a business of one to a business of five-- and I think that's perhaps the hardest transition....one where you have to maintain your brand and quality yet allow others to help along the way.
 

Tim the Wizard

Street Samurai
Gold Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2012
Messages
3,668
This world is big enough for both of you!

We need folks at the shows and on Al Gore's internet.

I would agree you are often wrong and backassward, haha! But if we didn't like the knives we wouldn't be here.

Keep it going brother.
 
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