Why I Sold All My Hinderer Knives
When Rick finished his statement I said “Rick, you can run your forum and your business any way you’d like. That’s not really what’s at issue here. There’s a right way to handle things and there’s a wrong way to handle things and Rob chose the wrong way.” To this Rick replied “we can agree to disagree on this point. I back my employees one hundred percent.” At this point, our break in the class was over, and quite frankly, I really had no further interest in continuing the discussion. If Rick wasn’t going to acknowledge that there was a more professional, courteous way this situation could have been resolved, then there was little else to discuss with him. At this point, the issue was no longer with Rob Orlando, but with his employer who fully encourages and supports the unprofessional behavior.
Rick’s first two point were really irrelevant to our discussion. Rick pays for a discussion forum on USN as well as one on BladeForums. As such, it’s between he and the owners of those websites to decide what can and cannot be discussed in those forums. If Rick is too sensitive to have his product compared to others, or too sensitive to receive constructive criticism regarding his company’s policies, then it’s perfectly within his right to censor such discussions in the forums he pays for and remove such topics of discussion. The real issue at hand was how their company rep in these forums chose to deal with me as both a journalist and as a customer. And he made it clear that he not only supported but encouraged such rude, unprofessional treatment in this situation.
Rick’s third point was the most curious to me. Rick went out of his way to let me know he’s not interested in customers who are “collectors” – that’s not who his knives are made for. “The soldiers are our first priority” he said.
Let me say from the onset that I believe that Rick believes what he’s saying is true. The problem that I have is that it’s awfully hard to believe Hinderer’s business is primarily supported by soldiers, police officers, and other “first responders.” I understand that’s the perception which Hinderer Knives (and other companies like it in the “tactical” industry) would like to put forth. But the reality is, there’s just not a whole bunch of soldiers who can afford a $400.00 or $500.00 knife no matter how good it is (and make no mistake, Hinderer makes a nice product), and fewer still that would bring such a valuable possession to a combat theater where valuables are easily lost or stolen. But people buy all manner of products they don’t need for reasons of ego and prestige. Rolex sold one heck of a lot of Submariners because men saw one on the wrist of 007 in the James Bond movies and wanted to be like James Bond. Sig Sauer has sold countless P226 pistols to civilians simply because the P226 was (and remains) the chosen side arm of the Navy Seals. There are countless examples of products which are sold on the basis of perception. How many producers and vendors of “tactical gear” are primarily supported not by true military/LEO “operators” but by civilians who can’t be “operators” but do the next best thing by buying and owning the gear that is perceived to be used by operators?
If Rick Hinderer’s business was built on such perception, it then becomes easy to understand why he’d go to such great lengths to control perceptions about his product and company in his online discussion forums. Now, I’m not condemning Rick Hinderer for how he markets his products. But it seems to me that Rick’s livelihood comes at least as much from “collectors” and enthusiasts than it does from “operators.” So for Rick to tell me that “he doesn’t make knives for collectors” is really quite hypocritical when you think about it.
A link to my comparative review was posted on BladeForums for discussion by one of their members, and Rick Hinderer himself weighed into the fray. The mystery of why Rick Hinderer would allow Rob Orlando to maintain the communication style he has with Rick’s customers became easily understood – Rick seems to have the same style of communication. Some direct quotes from Rick Hinderer (under the screen name of Rhind64 from the thread:
Theirs always two sides of the story now isn’t there John….what we don’t like is someone telling lies about our company and how we do things….why were you disappointed with my response? Because you didn’t hear what you wanted to hear? Your still spreading shit..like us only putting out so many knives to manipulate the market..really? Do you know that for sure John? Do you have proof of that charge John? I’ve spent 25 years building my brand John and building a very good reputation …I will not allow someone who just came into knives to soil that stellar reputation. I also will not get into a public shouting match with you,but since you want my attention you will get it now….privately …
An accusation of lying without substantiation….profanity…even what could be perceived as a thinly veiled threat in that last sentence. In short, about everything any professional business person should never say to a customer and NEVER state publicly. Here’s another quote later in the thread:
Oh good grief John….hahaha you really are a drama queen..haha…and no, your not the inecent victim in this…there is no threat there…i dont go on public forums and stir up drama like you do,if I have a problem I keep it to emails..that is what I ment..I am an adult…as for investing in equipment to ramp up production…you got a couple million to loan me to do this? it takes real money to buy cnc, ect…you want to take the risk of signing your life away to invest?..anyway, I’m wasting my typing fingers on trying to explain to you…
For everyone else in this thread……Really people…as for customer service and our overall reputation on how we treat our customers…our business model of putting our military, law enforcement, and firefighters first…have you heard widespread critisizm of my business before this thread?..the amount of times we go the extra mile for our civilian customers…you would take one post that I write in this thread and automaticaly say Rick Hinderer doest care about his customers? automatically saying that we cant take critisizm just because I defend my company and employees from falsehoods that is being spread. Someone comes on a forum and says things that are not my policy I will of course chime in and set the record straight..you would consider that not being able to take critisizm?..wow….have you all ever wondered why knifemakers will not come on to public forums anymore? why companies will not maintain public forums where you all can interact with your favorite maker…well, this is why…I am having to take the time to defend my company from something that is very silly, instead of making knives that my customers want…
More unsubstantiated claims of my having lied about…something…but no specific indication as to what, along with more grade school insults, another other unbecoming behavior.
Would you choose to do business with a company run in such a way? I certainly chose not to do so. Again, there’s no denying that Rick Hinderer makes some great knives and other related products. But there’s a lot of great knives out there being made today. If I’m going to pay the sort of prices which have to be paid for a Hinderer knife, then I’m going to have to have a great deal of belief in and respect for the company that makes that knife. And that’s simply no longer the case. Regretfully, based on what I’ve seen from the company and its owner, I can no longer recommend their products to anyone. Perhaps in time Hinderer will reconsider how he does business.
John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.