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What's the straigh scoop about Camillus?

Jun 12, 2006
I've heard so many stories about Camillus I don't know what to think. I know about the strike but I think they settled it a couple months back. No one will answer my emails or phone calls. I even get a messagae that says their voicemail box is full.

Anyone know the real scoop? Are they still in business? If so, wonder why they won't even answer their phone.

Yes, they are still in business. They are reorganizing their business plan, their product line, their workforce. They have trimmed their company in almost all areas, and are searching for the most profitable means to continue doing business. Exactly where their focus will lay is yet to be seen.

While customer service is paramount for almost all manufacturers, Camillus is not a retailer, and seems to be trying to concentrate on their large special customers, not a few interested retail individuals. I would imagine that most of the people who have in the past been available to answer phones and e-mails are spending much of their time out in the production area filling orders for shipping, and also filling in as needed in second surface process work.

If you are aware of what has transpired this year (bare facts with hype and blame aside), you know that the workforce has been trimmed significantly. Year's end, even in the best of times, is a labor intensive time for any manufacturer as they look to reduce carryover inventory of materials as well as finished products.

To add to that detailed answer; Camillus is closed untill the first of the year.
I have found one seller on eBay who is claiming that Camillus went Bankrupt "last year" in an attempt to sell his knives for higher prices I suppose. This seller is on the west coast. When I tried to inform him that Camillus was still in business I got a rather curt reply that I should check "Court records".

I also found a strange article on the web that says that Camillus now imports most of its products and has little need for a large workforce.

I, for one, would really like to hear the truth instead of all the newspaper gossip that has been leaking out around this story. This is supposed to be The Camillus forum, so what's really going on???
There is another eBay seller who for several years has repeated his mantra that Colonial went bankrupt and is no longer in business. I sent him Colonial's site link, no chane in his listings. I sent him a copy of my interview with Steve Paolantonio, grandson of the founder of Colonial. No change in his listings.

If Camillus had filed bankruptcy, 11 or 13, people here who were former employees would know it. Why not a current factory rep here? They have larger fish to fry, and company policy is to hold their card close. Understandable from my viewpoint. It is not a publicly held company, and I don't think it ever has been. A lot of info on the company's current status is posted here by interested collectors and former employees. Read down thru the posts.

Codger_64, thanks for the reply. I have been following the situation on this forum very closely. I sent a Camillus knife in to be repaired earlier in the year before I knew of the strike and I've e-mailed Camillus directly and they have replied with positive information about my knife.

What I find irritating, and I'm sure you would all agree, is that Camillus isn't saying anything about their future. I would think that saying something like, "At Camillus we are committed to producing affordable products for the average consumer well into the foreseeable future." would help. This is an easily reconciled statement whether they go with a partially imported line of knives or a full line of imports.

What Camillus is saying now (or are silent about) is that they don't care what we think. I don't feel as though that would be good for business. Another confounding thing is that this forum is linked from their website. So, Hi Camillus, this is what we're thinking, even if you're not checking with us.

Everyone I have heard from thinks it would be a shame if Camillus fell to Chinese competition and had to outsource their pocket knives like Buck has. I understand what they have to deal with, but I almost think an honorable death might be preferable to ruining a once formidable name for the sake of having a cheap line of knives that people will buy to use up and throw away.

My advice to Camillus would be to have a multi-level line of knives with some imports if necessary, but still fielding a line of U.S. made pocket knives even if it is only three highly desirable designs. Of course I could write an aggressive plan, but it would most likely require outside investment and I don't know if they could handle that. Oh well, they're not doing so hot right now as it is.

All of this is only my opinion so I hope no one takes offense, and if anyone at Camillus is checking this forum from time to time I'm available. :) :)

P.S. I just bought another Camillus off eBay.
Word does dribble out here and there. I realize that second and third hand information is not the most reliable, but sometimes you have to take what you can get.

This was posted today in the Schrade forum.
I had an interesting conversation with a long time Camillus employee today. At this time, they are planning to continue to produce their U.S.A. made 1095carbon steel Sharpfinger clone. This person also shared that Camillus actually paid some money for rights to produce this knife and the other Schrade clones they starting making after Schrade's demise. I kinda wonder about that because, to my knowledge, any patent issues on the Sharpfinger should have been gone; but, if its true, it is interesting.

Some of their employees and former employees have been quite gracious and generous of their time and knowledge to me, and I am very reluctant to badger them to "talk out of school". If they were able to tell me something that is supposed to be propriatary information, I would be honor bound to maintain their confidence and not post it. Such obligations with regard to Imperial Schrade and my refusal to publicly expose some good people to the angst, ridicule, publicity and accusations surrounding the "meltdown" led to a fracturing of that forum not long ago. As things progress with Camillus, I'll be happy to share any information I come across that is relevant, reliable, and does not violate confidences.

What Camillus is saying now (or are silent about) is that they don't care what we think.


Owners/Management do not and have not cared what the public felt for a LONG time. Emphasis on LONG! The primary owner, who by the way, decided to make himself President of the company (with absolutely no experience in running a business or ever having held a job in his almost 50 years of life) cares about one thing and one thing only - money! PERIOD!
Rest assured his focus is not on the knife that you sent in to have fixed or if you are happy with your most recent Camillus purchase. Main focus - "Will I have to pull my kids out of private school and send them to - God forbid, public school and have them mingle with less than desirables!!!!"

For years, the employees have offered suggestions on improving sales with little or no feedback. One of those suggestions was to have a parking lot sale or open house type sale. No Way!! Liability is too high!! We could get sued if somebody got hurt on our property. Blah! Blah! Blah! Finally, through a deal struck up with the union, the union volunteered their time to work and have an "Inventory Reduction Sale", in turn the company would let the union apply for special unemployment benefits stemming from dropping to a four day work week. Results - they brought in OVER $50,000 in just about 6 hours. Now, imagine if they had done this kind of thing years ago. One could only wonder what kind of business Camillus COULD have been with someone in charge thinking outside the box.

Sorry for the rant but the general public has no idea how many families were literally destroyed by greed and mismanagement of these owners.

From your name and the level of information that you produce, I would think that you are inside the Camillus company at some level.

I am not bashing your statement, I am curious.

The primary owner, who by the way, decided to make himself President of the company (with absolutely no experience in running a business or ever having held a job in his almost 50 years of life) cares about one thing and one thing only - money! PERIOD!

Why isnt Camillus pumping out the Becker line of knives right now? This seems to be the knife in demand. Also why did the production on Becker knives stop? Camillus and the employees setteled the strike before the end of the year. I thought everyone would have been ready for action and producing knives but as far as I can see there isnt too much production going on.

If the owner was $$$$$ driven wouldnt he want to be selling knives?
Well, the reality of the situation is that imports provide a higher profit margin. No labor or associated costs with them as opposed to stateside manufacturing. Basically, import, repackage, sell.

As far as the Beckers are concerned, the story is this. Camillus makes the Becker knives using Ethan Becker's name. In return, Camillus pays Mr. Becker a royalty for the knives sold. Guess what did not happen? We're probably talking numbers approaching 6 figures here. It was Ethan Becker who has pulled the plug on the line - and rightfully so - not Camillus. Look for another American manufacturer to take over that line. Add some other names with similar deals like Terzoula and Ralph, and you start seeing a bigger picture.

I really don't want to get into a "union vs. management" thing because I truly believe it was NEVER about that. The union would still be working there full strength trying whatever they could to make Camillus work if they could. Don't expect a lot from Camillus with only 10 people working in the plant. The future for Camillus is NOT in manufacturing.

Thanks for your concern, CRKS. I hope this clears it up a little.
Well, I've heard from three sources now that Ethan has pulled the plug. Can't say I blame him though.

It saddens me to hear that Beckers will not be coming out of Camillus.
I have to believe that as popular as Beckers are, Ethan won't have to jump on board with the first manufacturer that comes along. While I don't like the idea that Camillus won't be making them anymore, there may be some great days ahead for the BK&T's that we all admire so much. I wish that were true for Camillus as well, but only time will tell.
I've seen many a post on this, and my real concern is CAMCO imports. Do these suck, or what? Glad I got my Becker, but I hope Ethan gets his due soon. Sucks the whole way around.
Does this mean that the BK10 I placed on back order in December will never materialize at my vendor?:grumpy:
I have three Beckers on back order...... or is it four.....hmmmmmm, anyway, I guess we will find out this month if Camillus restarts production of them.
If not, I hope to get a quick refund to start checking Ebay.
OK CRKS. It looks like I'll be calling you to buy a BK2. Are you open on Sunday?;)
I will be in and out on Sunday. The best time is Sunday night, I'll be packing orders to ship Monday morning.
knifeworker, thaks for giving me the straight scoop on the Beckers. It sound like you have a very informed handle on the situation.

Owners/Management do not and have not cared what the public felt for a LONG time...
I hear that.. mismanagement/greed at the top level happens QUITE often.. in both privately owned companies, as well as public sector.

All it takes is a handful of greedy execs with an agenda to mis-manage and destroy the good work of Hundreds of employees. It's disgusting.

Anyways, thanks for the info.. good luck and I wish you folks all the best over there..