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Ready to pick up where we left off on our wild ride down Axxis memory lane?! If you recall, we had gotten word just before Christmas of 2020 that the first Axxis from our batch of 1000 were finally on their way. Axxis were going to be shipping to us in installments of about 200 until our entire order was completed. Now that we're caught up, let's break down everything that has happened up to this point. Ready, set, GO!
Once the first installment arrived, containing 200 Gunmetal Stone-age Chisel Axxis, we feverishly began fulfilling what orders we could from the limited inventory we had received. A few weeks later the “First 20” Axxis were returned to us, and we immediately began sending those off to our “Champions Haul” backers as well.
All of the challenges and delays due to Covid, as well as our country's deteriorating relationship with China clearly demonstrated to us how important it was for us to begin searching for a creative way to eventually bring some part of (if not all) manufacturing back to the States. Although we couldn’t have predicted the virus, it didn’t mean our young company couldn’t still be harmed by its effects. We knew we would have to find other ways of manufacturing our products which would allow us to maintain greater control over our entire process, as well as protect us against future downturns and supply chain shortages.
Meanwhile, considering the substantial lead time on working with our primary manufacturer, we went ahead and submitted another 1000 unit Axxis order.
In the downtime, I began work on a new hand axe design to improve upon the functionality and success of the Axxis. We are aptly calling it the “Magnum”.😉 We began presenting the design to various firms in the states to test production feasibility. While this process is still ongoing, we have developed a relationship with a US manufacturer and are currently in the process of prototyping the design with them.
The manufacturer we were working with at the time had provided some great sample skulls which had been beautifully finished (not including the strikers). We approved the prototypes and expected our order would be placed. However, it was at this time that they also informed us that they would no longer make each skull for the agreed upon per unit cost (even though we had clear record of having confirmed the price on three separate occasions prior), and would instead charge us nearly 3x as much. We scoffed at their response and cut ties with them immediately. Unfortunately it was back to the drawing board for us…
Wave after wave of Covid emerged and shuttered manufacturing again. As we prepared to receive our next installment of Axxis, the factory closed down once more well in advance of the Chinese New Year in February.
March passed quietly as we continued to wait for our manufacturer to get back up and running. By April the next batch of Gunmetal Stone Age Chisel Axxis were ready to ship (6 boxes containing 215 Axxis). A couple weeks later we received 1 of 6 boxes containing 36 units.🤷♂️
As we endeavored to learn what had happened to the other 5 boxes, it soon became apparent that UPS had lost them. We were hoping (still are) that they would randomly turn up on our doorstep, but UPS said there was nothing they could do. Luckily, it was clear that the fault did not lay with us, and our manufacturer agreed to compensate us for the loss with our second order of 1000 Axxis.
In early May we received another 17 boxes from our manufacturer containing nearly 600 Axxis total. Since we had already planned on taking a trip to Michigan to explore real estate opportunities for us and Bone Daddy the following week, we threw ourselves into a shipping frenzy in order to complete as many orders as possible before we left. It was all hands on deck with family and friends to get the job done, and we made it through a good majority of the orders with their help.
As we began tearing through the remaining boxes and unpacking Axxis we soon made a soul crushing discovery… Something had gone horribly wrong in the Titanium Nitride (TiN) application process on our batch of Black Magik Moon Crater Axxis, and the coating did not adhere properly. In some cases I could even rub it off with my finger!
Due to this sudden unexpected challenge, it was clear we were not going to be able to finish shipping all Axxis before our trip to Michigan, and so we decided instead to bring all of the remaining Axxis on vacation with us so we could continue to fill orders and asses the damage remotely.
We set about painstakingly quality control checking/testing every single Black Magik Axxis in order to get a sense of how extensive the damage was. We were fortunate that there only seemed to be finish issues with the black moon crater Axxis and not the black chisels. However, this was not a good reflection of the quality of product we had hoped to bring to market, and so we made the incredibly hard decision to reject more than 160 Axxis units.
Rejecting a large number of our Axxis of course effected a lot of our backers, and so we began the long, slow, arduous process of reaching out to every single one of them personally to come up with solutions. Many chose to accept other Axxis finishes that we had surplus inventory of, while others were happy to continue to wait until we had found a solution for repairing the bad finish on the rejected Axxis. We are very fortunate to have some of the friendliest and most patient supporters in the world, and we were very relieved by the understanding and outpouring of support we received as we dealt with this setback.
On our previous trip to MI we found our dream home outside of Traverse City on the lake. In a “once in a life time impulsive act” we made the decision to submit an offer, and wouldn’t you know it, it was accepted! A few weeks later we found ourselves on the road to Michigan. Luckily the timing was such that we had a brief window in our schedule to complete the move while we geared up for the next phases of business development and order fulfillment.
We had continued searching for another manufacturer who could cast our skulls for a fair price, and were lucky to have found one who happened to be particularly fast. The skulls were finished by the end of June, and we had them shipped directly to a State side manufacturing partner in order to have their proprietary strikers installed.
In late June our Axxis manufacturer shipped 71 surplus/overflow units they had on hand from the first batch that had been produced. While few of these were the Black Magik units we needed, we appreciated the gesture and were happy to receive some additional inventory which we used to fulfill some of our newer Indiegogo orders.
Considering the immense challenges associated with overseas manufacturing, not to mention exorbitant shipping cost and timelines, it was clear we would not be able to send the rejected Axxis back to the manufacturer for repairs. We decided the work must be completed in the US, which only further supported our commitment to bring manufacturing back to the states anyways! A company with the necessary qualifications to complete the repairs was found, a relationship was established, and terms were agreed upon.
Our Parasquid Skull Strikers finally arrived in August, and boy was the wait worth it! The many challenges faced while bringing these beasties to life only served to make a better final product. These Flamethrower Bottle Openers surpassed our wildest dreams, and we excitedly set about unleashing them on the world.
Which all brings us finally to “now”, that is September of 2021. We are only weeks away from receiving our next batch of 1000 Axxis units, and will finally be able to complete all outstanding Gunmetal Stone Age Axxis orders. We also expect to have the repairs to the Black Magik MoonCrater Axxis completed in a month to six weeks, so very soon ALL orders will finally be completed and we can officially turn the page on this chapter of our story. Already eminent on the horizon are the Magnum Hand Axe and of course, the Universal Haft… Stay tuned for more updates as we continues to bring new and innovative products to the minimalist outdoor gear community. Until then, stay safe out there my friends!