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An Interesting Article
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  1. #1

    An Interesting Article

    Not exactly knives-related, but falls within the same idea that quality costs money.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/01/bu...m.html?hp&_r=0


    "If there’s something worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.” - An US saying.

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  2. #2
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    Thanks Marko read the whole thing,seems it's a hard rub for alot of industries to compete with cheap overseas labor.

  3. #3
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    Very interesting indeed. Bringing it back to knives, I often wonder why American makers can't market and sell quality cutlery at the price points set by the Germans and Japanese. I'm not asking for a custom or semi custom, but a regular production knife like a Sakai Yusuke , or a heck a Miyabi. Given how close labor cost are in the 3 countries.

    One thing with cheap overseas labor is it increases the purchasing power of the American consumer (and control inflation). Like my dad used to say, romaine won't be $1 a head if it was picked by Americans.

  4. #4
    Consumers will pay a premium only if there is a difference - real or perceived - that matters to them. Why should someone pay more for the exact same thing? So then if they are not the exact same thing, then manufacturers need to communicate somehow what that difference is and in a way that consumers care about.

    Perhaps there really is no difference at the low-end of the price spectrum that consumers care enough about to spend more and you really have to restrict yourself to the upper end where your advantages come into play.

    Local food is different than local t-shirts, sweaters and backpacks. People bring in factors such as carbon emissions, animal treatment, and healthiness. I am not aware of any comparable factors that people would consider when talking about clothing & bags. However, fit and uniqueness would matter - and those are typically the realm of higher-end clothing.

    My best dress shirts are from an Indian-owned custom tailor biz operating out of Hong Kong that sends its fitting & sales team around the world. Custom-made without the typical custom-made price. So that's a business that survived (and I suppose is thriving) even though Hong Kong's textile business got thrashed once China opened up for production. They don't compete on price alone, but found a niche for themselves at the high-end (relative to other production in Hong Kong that used to exist there).

    I was reading an article a while back about how China is increasingly no longer the world's cheapest place for production as its own labor costs rise. Up to 16 other countries are coming up to take that role now. So this problem isn't particular to any one competing country - it's just a reality that demand for labor can go anywhere. So then if you can't compete on low labor costs, you have to find some way to either do it differently with far less labor or make something that gives a benefit that is worth the difference in cost to the end-customer.

    Or do both

    I know that's easy to say but not easy to do.
    Len

  5. #5
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    well the US made Werther knife is made out of a pretty nice steel and could qualify - except the geometry isn't too everyones taste - big belly - nor is the finish - too funky too some people.

    I like playing with my chef knife from them and I actually find the finish interesting but I did change the geometry quite a bit--took the OOB angle down a lot. Cuts pretty well and stays sharp along time...

    also i love their paring knife.

    Other than werther, I don't know any interesting semi-mass produced american not influenced by a custom maker like the HHH which is coming soon.

    Does anyone know of any other US made (semi) mass produced knife that is interesting??

  6. #6
    Interestingly, I just spent a while putting together 4 Ikea shelves. Three of them were made in the USA, one was made in Poland. The ones made in America are visibly better quality - the screws are flush with the exterior surface and the shelves are snug with the frame. The fit for all the parts is really good. Not quite so for the Polish-made shelf.

    However, I had to remark to my wife when we were putting them together, I suspect that the two factories got paid the same amount from Ikea even though one is decidedly superior to the other. Ikea doesn't consider them any different, and considering they were all mixed into the same pile, we as end-consumers can't tell them apart when buying them.

    So, I think this is a case where someone deserves a better return for better quality, but doesn't get it because the end customer can't tell when buying it. We can tell after assembly, but by then it's too late - the purchase has been made. Plus, the retailer in the middle doesn't care enough to differentiate between the two suppliers.
    Len

  7. #7
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    Some times higher cost means better quality,but not always.I'll take a Honda or a Mazda over more expensive cars that are less reliable and cost a fortune to repair.

  8. #8

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    Hard to resist the draw of lower prices because quality is illusive until directly experienced.

    I have been looking at high cost knives - both chefs and a folding pocket knife. You can buy an American made knife from a first class maker or a foreign (read "China") for about a tenth the price. The American maker pays his employees a living wage, designs the knife, picks the best steel, figures out how to machine it and that results in a $400 knife. The foreign maker reverse-engineers the knife, pays pennies on the dollar to his workers and markets the knife for $35. Are they sufficiently different in feel or use to justify the difference? Clearly that depends on the judgement of each buyer. I admit the draw of the cheap knock-off, but I feel guilty as if I had cheated someone - so I do without if and until I can afford the "real thing" -- I don't know how to put a price on the disappointment I feel from a badly made item.

    There are some places (like good wine) where the great increase in technology and knowledge has allowed new younger winemakers to make great wines and sell them at a very affordable price, but generally in most manufacturing areas, the labor costs control final price. It is always a trade-off and until the standard of living is reasonably uniform around the globe, we'll have to deal with these decisions between low-cost and high quality. When it comes to life-long tools, I opt for high quality, but can't fault those who make their decisions on economics first.

  9. #9
    Bear in mind that those who are out to make knock-offs go only far enough to fool the customer's eye. Anything that is unseen is going to be given shortcuts all over the place.

    A knockoff riding on the name and reputation of someone else is materially different (no pun intended) from someone making a competing product at a lower price
    Len

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