It's no secret, we happened to launch Bone Daddy Blade WerX in one of the most frightening and challenging business environments in the history of...well....ever. Covid, massive shipping delays and skyrocketing freight costs, material shortages, general market inflation, a deteriorating working relationship with China and years long manufacturing delays due to their own economic troubles, employee shortages, the list goes on and on.
Which is exactly why it was almost more than we could bear when we were dealt the one-two punch in early 2021 of some 200 of our Axxis getting lost in shipping, and having to reject nearly 200 more of the Black Magik Axxis due to a coating issue.
However, Jacqueline and I both share the belief that "fortune favors the bold", and also "that which does not destroy you, only makes you stronger". When we were finally able to regather ourselves after what seemed like a catastrophic series of blows, a clear and undeniable lesson began to emerge... WE MUST BRING MANUFACTURING BACK TO THE UNITED STATES.
We realized that, even if we do absolutely everything right on our end, as long as we continue manufacturing our products overseas, we have virtually NO power to control our pipeline, affect change and oversee the production and quality control of our products.
It was a tough pill to swallow, especially considering we had already determined prior to Covid (or so we thought) that the per unit cost to manufacture the Axxis in the States would be nearly 10x, not to mention the extensive time and energy (more than a year and many thousands of dollars) that had already been invested to establish our foreign pipeline.
There was nothing we could do about the lost Axxis. Due to errors on the part of UPS, they were untraceable, and we could not force their return even if they did eventually turn up. Luckily, our manufacturer agreed to compensate us for the lost units since the claim was technically between the shipper (our manufacturer) and UPS.
However, that didn't change the fact that we were still deprived of 1/5th of our expected Axxis order, and we were sitting on another 1/5th that we could not in good conscience release to market. As we alluded to in our last blog, we were determined to find a solution.
Since the Black Magik Axxis were perfect in all other regards but the application of their finish, it was apparent that was clearly the best place to start. We began researching and contacting US companies who could provide some/all steps that would be required in order to repair the black Axxis. These steps included...
- Removing the bad finish
- Applying a new PVD coating
- Laser engraving our company logo/name that was taken off in the finish removal process
Although these steps were specific to the repair of the black Axxis, each would be necessary for any blade/Axxis Tech hand axe that Bone Daddy releases in the future. With this in mind, this vetting process was particularly important to us because the same players we selected to repair our Black Magiks could also be key to the success of our US pipeline at large.
Additionally, though we weren't initially looking into this, we also stumbled upon a local Traverse City blade shop which we are looking to tap so we can possibly offer custom engraving on future Axxis. More on this to come soon!
As I write this update, and fantasize about the prospects 2022 will bring, the fully US refinished Black Magik Axxis are in the air and are scheduled to arrive on our doorstep in days, just in time for Christmas! We have been incredibly encouraged by the ease and efficiency with which we have been able to work with our US brothers and sisters to "get it done". Along the way, we have learned much about the potential for fully US manufactured products and their expected associated costs. We are now more confident than ever that we can find a creative solution to our manufacturing challenges.
In traditional Bone Daddy style, we are considering a vast array of non-traditional manufacturing techniques and forging alliances with a wide array of unlikely manufacturers, in an attempt to produce a reasonably affordable Axxis here in the states. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but let's just say these partnerships are yielding surprising fruit that I am EXTREMELY excited to share with you. But that's a story for another day...
Stay tuned for further US manufacturing updates.