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Old 08-13-2003, 08:30 AM
Les Robertson's Avatar
Les Robertson Les Robertson is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Georgia
Posts: 4

You post reminds me of converstations I have had with you and other makers on CKD.

Ladies and Gentlemen....Talent alone is not enough.

You have to market yourself and your knives.

When there are a combination of new custom makers showing up everyday and a slow economy. Marketing your self and your knives is even more important.

Being a full time knife maker and relying on this as your sole source of income. It is almost imperative that in the beginning you need to be a part-timer. Giving yourself the ability to put every penny you make from sales back into the business.

Not just buying more machines and materails. But money for advertising, attending shows and keeping your web site up to date.

As someone who has been in custom knives full time for the last 8 1/2 years (with this being my sole source of income). I have to adjust my business plan every 6-8 months. I have to make continual assessments as to not only short term requirements. But long term market trends as well. Quite frankly, being able to anticipate market trends 6-18 months out has been a huge advantage.

Contrary to what people think, there are still tens of thousands of collectors buying custom knives. However, buyers are becoming more selective on what they will spend money on.

Many have come to understand that their collection is fluid. As opposed to 5 years ago when many collectors never really thought about what they would get for a knife that they bought if they went to sell or trade it. Now the word "investment" is in the mind of the collector.

The point to all this is understand the if you are going to make a living making custom knives. You have to treat it as a business. Makers who want to be successful (in a business sense) have to create what the market wants. This can also include creating your own niche within a market (Dan Winkler and Virgil England come to mind). But understand there will be a lot of lean years with no guarantee that you will ultimately be successful.

John is showing himself to be the artist/business man. While he wants to create art on his own terms. He understands that you have to incorprate pratical business elements to pay the bills. He is doing so by now creating jewlery to supplement his income, so he continue to make the quality product he and his customers want.

An added benefit of making jewlery as well as knives. Gives him avenues into two markets with potential for cross over sales in each. Thereby providing line extension possiblities for each market. With the potential for entering and/or creating a niche market he was not in before.

Part of my job with the makers I work with is to get them additional exposure. Get them into new markets and or improve their position in a current market. This is done through several avenues.

The name of the game is introducing you and your work to the tens of thousands of custom knife buyers world wide

Question: What have you done today to introduce your knives to another potential buyer?

Les Robertson
Custom Knife Entrepreneur
Field Editor for Blade Magazine
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Old 08-15-2003, 05:29 PM
Al Polkowski Al Polkowski is offline
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: North Western NJ
Posts: 52
To Les Robertson...... regarding your posts....yes, you are a wonderful human being, a most savvy businessman, and truly the backbone and the trendsetter of the custom knife industry. You're the go-to guy, the guy with the crystal ball, the dream maker, the heartbreaker.

As for deposits, I totally agree with A.T. Barr. I request a small ($30) deposit on all orders except from previous customers.

Why just $30? Well, it's really not about the money.

It's about the DEAL, the agreement, between the maker and the customer. That $30 tells me I have a serious buyer and he is entitled to my full attention.

I'll put him in my order book, i'll send him an order confirmation detailing the knife he is purchasing, the sheath system, the price, shipping cost, the balance due, and the estimated delivery date.

When I am ready to start the customer's knife, I'll send a request for payment of the balance. The payment comes in, I finish and ship the knife.

It's as simple as that. I've done it just a few thousand times. It works fairly well.

Yes, it is not infallible. What is in this world? Most of the problems with the system are MY fault. Have I screwed the system up? Yes. Have I recovered...Yes.

And, when I missed a delivery date (I've missed my share) , I have never been contacted by the Attorney General of the US, my state Attorney General, the FBI, Consumer Affairs, Credit Card companies, or whatever.

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Old 08-15-2003, 07:46 PM
cactusforge cactusforge is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Quartzsite Az.
Posts: 1,482
Right on Al, well said. Gib

Old 08-15-2003, 08:48 PM
Les Robertson's Avatar
Les Robertson Les Robertson is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Georgia
Posts: 4
Hi Al,

I agree with most of what you said about me!

After re-reading the thread. I have come to the conclusion (again), that each maker has to determine how they are going to run their business.

It's a tough business. Takes some of you "old timers" who have paid their dues to pass on their wisdom.

Les Robertson
Custom Knife Entrepreneur
Field Editor for Blade Magazine
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Old 08-15-2003, 11:04 PM
Al Polkowski Al Polkowski is offline
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: North Western NJ
Posts: 52

As usual, a most gracious response.

Al P.
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Old 08-26-2003, 11:13 PM
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cockroachfarm cockroachfarm is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Toronto/ON -- Clearwater/FL
Posts: 86
Originally posted by Keith Montgomery
I know a maker whose price increases as the years go by, even on knives that have been previously ordered...
Keith, are you saying that if I agree to purchase a knife from this maker today (and maybe send a deposit to underline that purchase agreement) and he confirms to me that his current price on that knife is $900 - by the time my ordered knife is ready to ship he will inform me that my knife will now cost $1,200.?

Sorry, I would NEVER order a knife from that maker - I don't care how good his knives are, how great his reputation, how many people are fighting each other to be 'blessed' with one of his knives. And I don't care if he tells me up front that this is his standard "policy". I'll spend my money with a maker who can quote me a firm price when I AGREE to buy a knife. That's MY standard "policy".
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Old 08-27-2003, 02:43 PM
whv whv is offline
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right on, holger!

things get better with age ... i'm approaching magnificent
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Old 07-12-2023, 03:46 PM
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M&J M&J is offline
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: So. Cal
Posts: 919
Bumping this conversation as it is a relevant topic 20 years later. The inflation of materials these days can strain budgets when doing one off's. If we have like what wood costs during covid, those unexpected changes can be pretty harsh to the build price. Any of these price changes in materials can be significant.

One key part is the separation to not float deposits for outside uses. I know it happens so it is the maker to uphold a reliable, honest standard to their collectors by delivering as promised.

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