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A little update on the knife biz - and a very interesting new gig

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A little update on the knife biz - and a very interesting new gig

 
Old 12-23-2018, 09:32 AM
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J S Machine
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Default A little update on the knife biz - and a very interesting new gig

Some here may remember the story - I came out of the machining industry unexpectedly in Oct of 2017, and pretty much started doing my own thing. I was working in my shop every day on knives for the most part, but doing some machine work too. Also had an idea for a fire / rescue service product, but that never panned out. Guess I realized that not all ideas turn out to be overnight successes I put a lot of money and months of time into that and it just didn't work out.

Any event, looks like knives will always be a good thing for me. There is a little return there. The problem I discovered very quickly though - especially after being a first time exhibitor at Blade show in Atlanta last year, is that knives are one of those things that has, more or less, turned into a popularity contest. Social Media is HUGE with knives. Instagram is a hot bed for maker activity, as well as all the other popular venues like facebook, twitter and even Reddit. There is a lot of fierce competition out there thanks to shows like History's Forged in Fire, way more than there was 5-6 years ago. Most makers literally post every day on each of these mediums, essentially whoring themselves out. Sometimes it seems like it is nothing but a race to see who can post the most content. Apparently that is the ticket, because those makers are the ones that have sales. As a maker, I am not anybody special. That reality hit me in the face pretty hard at Blade show. Reputation and who you know is a lot of being a custom maker.

So anyway, I started helping out with a really cool gig. A guy local to me started a machine gun range about a year ago. He had been offering a job to me since I left the industry, but I was busy trying to do my own thing. About three months ago at the end of my savings and hard times right around the corner, he offered again, and I accepted. He is a 02/07 FFL/SOT and also an ammunition manufacturer. I do my own reloading so all I needed was to be brought up to speed on making ammo on a production scale. Since I am an employee, I do work on the equipment and all sorts of other projects. I have to admit, it is probably the coolest job I have ever had We make ammo for large order customers - usually thousands of rounds at a time. we have about 8 fully automated production machines and a few smaller manual ones.

The Range is a really neat deal. We probably have one of the largest selections of automatic firearms in the southeast. Customers can come and shoot guns and pay by the mag or by the belt for the belt feds. Pretty much everything we have is suppressed, other than the iconic guns like the Thompson and a few others. Current list of guns is pretty extensive.

Sub guns and pistols:
HK MP5 PDW
HK MP5 A2
HK MP5 SD
HK UMP 40
HK UMP 45
COLT SMG
UZI 9mm
Thompson M1
Glock 18

Belt feds:
M1919 chambered in .308 (for logistics purposes)
M2 HB
M60 E3

Rifles:
AK47
AK74
IMI Galil (.223)
HK 33
Ruger AC 556
AR15 in 300 blk (auto)
Colt M4

We do not shoot it, but we have one of the Colt CMG 3 prototype guns. This is essentially a unicorn gun. There are only a few known to still exist.

Currently building a STEN MK2 from a demilled gun. Also will be making a Thompson 1928 model. The parts for that came in the other day. It is literally sad that these iconic guns just get cut up. Putting them back together after they have been destroyed is doable, but it is a lot of work.

Since I have been helping out with that, I haven't done much in the knife shop. I do have a knife for St. Jude, but I think I actually missed the 2018 auction so I suppose it will be for 2019. I may able to get another one built for this year, so that I can keep up my yearly donation without missing a year. I will get with mods and get the new one posted up after the holidays are out of the way

[Pictures removed to avoid getting picked apart from people here. ]

Last edited by J S Machine; 12-23-2018 at 10:03 AM.
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Old 12-23-2018, 09:43 AM
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Loading all that ammo and gear in that car like that is just ridiculous and very unprofessional. Do it right guys. You need a van which can be good advertising as well for the business.
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Old 12-23-2018, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by pappy.72 View Post
Loading all that ammo and gear in that car like that is just ridiculous and very unprofessional. Do it right guys. You need a van which can be good advertising as well for the business.
Ok, picture removed
It was just a trip from one side of the shop to the other - That was not taken on any road
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Old 12-23-2018, 10:06 AM
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Life has twists and turns, sounds like you have it covered. Love your knife making threads.
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Old 12-23-2018, 10:07 AM
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Sent you a PM.
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Old 12-23-2018, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by J S Machine View Post
Guess I realized that not all ideas turn out to be overnight successes I put a lot of money and months of time into that and it just didn't work out.
Every industry and undertaking is different, but I figure if 20% of the projects I undertake actually get to market, I'm doing well. Remember Michael Jordan missed 9,000 shots!
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Old 12-23-2018, 10:16 AM
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good luck in your new venture!
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Old 12-23-2018, 10:17 AM
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Sten guns. I picked up two of them left over from the French Indochina war in Vietnam. Also got some 9mm ammo. Slowest automatic I've ever fired. pop......pop......pop. Never seen one since.

Regarding knives, I picked up a Sandrin with a tungsten blade. I really like the blade, it stays scalper sharp. Sandrin is in Italy and as far as I know are the only producers. I wish there was a bowie out there made with tungsten. I know nothing about machining but I understand it's very hard to work with.

Good luck with your new job. It sounds like a great opportunity.

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Old 12-23-2018, 10:25 AM
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Gotta face it, social media, esp. instagram, is the current wave and will be for some time.

Rather than fight it, here's an easy way to join it: find a local kid, maybe a young family member, or even post an ad at the local community college graphics design department asking for help in setting up & maintaining an instagram account and web presence. And maybe even have the kid do the photos and all the postings as a way for them to help them build their own design portfolio. Win-win.

Just a thought....

Good luck either way! I've always admired your knives, they are stunning.

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Old 12-23-2018, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by SLO VETTE View Post
Gotta face it, social media, esp. instagram, is the current wave and will be for some time.

Rather than fight it, here's an easy way to join it: find a local kid, maybe a young family member, or even post an ad at the local community college graphics design department asking for help in setting up & maintaining an instagram account and web presence. And maybe even have the kid do the photos and all the postings as a way for them to help them build their own design portfolio. Win-win.

Just a thought....

Good luck either way! I've always admired your knives, they are stunning.
Hey, I appreciate the tips. I have accounts on all of the ones listed, I just struggle with advertising. I never have been a salesman. I worked a few jobs like that when I was in my late teens before I started working in the industry and I never felt "in place." That kind of gig works for some people, but I have always despised pushy salespeople and just about puke at the idea of trying to push my knives on other people. I do occasionally post, but lets just say my traffic is nowhere near what some of the makers do.
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Old 12-23-2018, 10:43 AM
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Default good stuff

I posted several times about my building antique weapons and have done many ..Soum31 Gustav 45b , AR ,AK all kinds of custom M1A1'S FAL"S I really enjoy building with friends ..
They in turn have got me into reloading and suppressor work ..

soumi31

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Old 12-23-2018, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by pappy.72 View Post
Loading all that ammo and gear in that car like that is just ridiculous and very unprofessional. Do it right guys. You need a van which can be good advertising as well for the business.
OT never disappoints to rain on someones parade


Good luck on your new job John!
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Old 12-23-2018, 11:56 AM
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You let the images and messages do the work. If customer wants to buy, they'll reach out.

You're proud of your work and justifiably so. Images and telling of your craft via the web can be, and is, compelling content.

That is, if you want it to be a business. If you just want it to be a hobby, then that's something else.

Originally Posted by J S Machine View Post
Hey, I appreciate the tips. I have accounts on all of the ones listed, I just struggle with advertising. I never have been a salesman. I worked a few jobs like that when I was in my late teens before I started working in the industry and I never felt "in place." That kind of gig works for some people, but I have always despised pushy salespeople and just about puke at the idea of trying to push my knives on other people. I do occasionally post, but lets just say my traffic is nowhere near what some of the makers do.
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Old 12-23-2018, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by J S Machine View Post
Hey, I appreciate the tips. I have accounts on all of the ones listed, I just struggle with advertising. I never have been a salesman. I worked a few jobs like that when I was in my late teens before I started working in the industry and I never felt "in place." That kind of gig works for some people, but I have always despised pushy salespeople and just about puke at the idea of trying to push my knives on other people. I do occasionally post, but lets just say my traffic is nowhere near what some of the makers do.
you are suffering from what we call “head trash”. Like many people (or most) when they think of a “salesman” they think of bad, pushy salesmen full of tricks and lies who will say anything to get your money. And there are a **** load of them out there. If you make a product, marketing (social media, email, etc.) and sales are required for success.

Who says you need to push anything on anyone? You make amazing knives. You have the choice to be a sleazy, pushy salesman or a passionate guy who LETS PEOPLE BUY. Huge difference. It’s the difference between the zit faced amateur at the used car lot and the people who are trained properly, are honest and help people make good choices.

I used to to hate selling because I had the same problem. Nobody says “When I grow up I want to be a salesman!” Once I understood that it was head trash and my belief system that made me hate “selling” it became easy, if not pleasurable.

Read this book and you will be on your way to getting rid of your preconceptions and start enjoying all that comes with working for yourself - including sales and marketing.
https://www.amazon.com/Cant-Teach-Ride-Bike-Seminar/dp/0071847820/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1545583623&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=Sandler+You+can’t+teach+a+fish+to+ride+a+bicycle https://www.amazon.com/Cant-Teach-Ride-Bike-Seminar/dp/0071847820/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1545583623&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=Sandler+You+can’t+teach+a+fish+to+ride+a+bicycle

I sell services to CEOs and executives. I bill over $250 an hour. These are very smart people who know every technique and trick there is. You pull that **** on them and you will be in the soup line in a hurry. Instead, I believe what I do is very valuable. I make millions of dollars for my clients. I feel it’s my duty to let them know I exist, then help them decide if what I do will help them. And here is the important part. If I don’t think I can help, I won’t do the deal. Even when my checkbook is empty.

And i I never use sales tricks. Just pure honesty. (And a fair amount of training) That alone puts me far above any competition and gets me trust and respect.

This is how you build a reputation for being ethical. Because you ARE ethical. I am 100% honest with my clients and prospects and I turn away 80% of deals that would benefit me but are not right for the client. Then I help them find someone who is a better match. And that time comes out of my pocket. Then those people who I helped for free tell other people about me and it snowballs.

You love making knives. It’s your passion. (Making ammo is pretty cool too) That’s what you should be doing. If you love your work and you persist and work on your belief system, you will be successful. Do you think those guys who have big reputations started off that way? They build those reputations over time by using social media, attending shows, and hopefully not pushing **** on people. It’s interesting to me because you said in your OP that what they do sells knives.

I suggest you keep making knives and work for the ammo joint at the same time. Start building your reputation. (BTW, you’ve successfully done that here on this social media site).

Make the best knives. Let people buy. Show your passion. Learn how to use social media (hint - you can precisely target people most likely to buy on a very precise level). Don’t give up - ever.

I’m moving into music on a bigger scale than ever. My reputation is only now starting to build among the bigger names in the business after four years (I retired for ten). I just released my 7th album and heard my voice on the radio just last week for the first time in my life.

What counts is is that you find YOUR way. In my case, I could pound it out in bars and festivals and make squat. Instead I’m moving into corporate shows with an 8 piece, spectacular band that gets $15k per show. As band leader, I pocket about $8k of that after paying everyone handsomely.

I wont be quitting my day job. But over time, who knows? I may even have multiple touring versions of the band under the same name playing around the country while I sit home and collect checks.

My point is this. The only thing in your way is you. Nothing else matters but passion. Do you think I get to play with BB Kings guys because I’m a fantastic musician? Nope. It’s my passion, my skill as a bandleader, and being innovative to make money. And a **** ton of promotion. Add fearlessness to this mix and watch what happens.

Last edited by Snorkie; 12-23-2018 at 12:06 PM.
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Old 12-23-2018, 12:44 PM
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Florida law agencies are moving to this. It is probably not easy to do but the effort may be worth it. I have a friend who demonstrated and he did very well.

http://www.tactical-life.com/gear/am...ing-standards/
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Old 12-23-2018, 02:59 PM
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Try hiring a college intern in marketing. Many will work for free in exchange for real world experience.
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Old 12-23-2018, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Sawbone View Post
Try hiring a college intern in marketing. Many will work for free in exchange for real world experience.
Except they wonít know what they are doing. Just buy a book and learn how to do it. Itís not that hard. Does the OP have a website?
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Old 12-23-2018, 10:59 PM
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Best of luck in your new endeavor and in finding the time for your next knife build.
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Old 12-24-2018, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Snorkie View Post
Except they wonít know what they are doing.
Thatís why you interview people.
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Old 12-24-2018, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Snorkie View Post


Except they wonít know what they are doing. Just buy a book and learn how to do it. Itís not that hard. Does the OP have a website?
I started one, but eventually just let it go. Like I said in my first post, everything is geared towards social media now. Websites are becoming stone age to the current market. I know very few big time makers that keep one. The thing is, why would we as makers pay the hosting fee and everything involved with a website if we can do everything for free on social media? Pretty sure that is what everyone thinks anyway - and it is the truth. I can post about a knife on social media and anyone that is a follower or part of my fb groub or IG can see it. That knife sells and the only thing it costs me is time and maybe fees for dealing with paypal or other payment systems. My issue is not the knowing how to be involved with the social media side. My issue is that I do not enjoy that part of it so I do not post much content, therefore possible buyers or enthusiasts move on to the next maker that is putting out content. I don't necessarily need help or to be taught to do it. I think some of you are misunderstanding me. While I understand it is good for business and that it is something I must do, I just don;t do it much because it isn't my thing. That's on me - it isn't anyone else's fault.

One weird part of it is the psychological way it effects me, and that effects my attitude towards it. I really enjoy making knives, but I don't enjoy it as much as some makers and enthusiasts do. I once told a maker, "knives are not the first thing I think about when I get out of bed every day" That maker literally looked at me like I was crazy. I honestly just don't understand how some of the makers and enthusiasts eat, sleep, and breath knives. I am a part of many groups and circles of people that are enthusiasts and makers. Sometimes I am dumbfounded by the constant focus on knives. It is all they talk about.

Like I said, I enjoy doing knives, but I get more from it when donating a knife that goes to St. Jude or some other charity than I do trying to make things to sell for proceeds. I know that won't get me very far trying to do it for a living though
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