Discussion in 'JapaneseKnifeSharpening / Dave Martell Knives' started by Dave Martell, Oct 24, 2017.
I think it's worth saying that my experience with Dave (2 knives, one custom ordered, one pre-made) has been quite different. There was prompt communication and I was kept up to date with progress. I receved both knives quicker than I expected and the finished product was very good in both cases.
I'm not trying to diminish the issues that other people have had, I'm really just noting that some peole have had very good experiences.
Same with me Nemo, got one semi custom from Dave. Communication was timely and consistent. Knife was delivered as expected with very high level fit and finish as well as the nice little case.
I was forward with my expectations, as Dave was with his timeline.
I've been meaning to write a full review of the petty. Unfortunately I don't use it enough to feel like I could give a comprehensive review at the moment.
Just wanted to provide insight from the other side of the coin.
Dave, I've been following your saga for a while and I want to help. I work in corporate finance and am also a small business owner. I'm going to post some ideas in this thread only because I think I'd like to hear from those who still have skin in the game. I don't know your whole financial situation but I know you're married and have children. To survive, your income has to be greater than your expense. I don't know if your wife works or if you have other sources of income beyond knife making. From what I've read in all these posts I'm going to break it down like this
Life Support (Everything to keep the lights on)
Prepaid Custom Work
Order of Priority from your perspective
Standard Knives > Custom Knives > Sharpening (Paid) > Rehandles (Paid) > Anything prepaid
You used the prepaid money to fund your expenses but now everything is piled up. It only gets worst as your reputation has dwindled, you can no longer command the premium for your standard work.
At this point to dig yourself out without filing bankruptcy, you need cash. The only things that generate cash are standard knives and immediate quick paid work.
So here's my suggestions,
1. In a given month, how much in standard knives sales and quick paid work do you need to do to keep the lights on. Do that and sell those items and get the cash.
2. Look at all your custom work and figure out realistically how long it would take you to finish it all and create a timeline. If it's one a month, then its 12 a year. Send realistic estimates to everyone you still owe work to. People can be patient if they know what to expect.
3. Disregard all remaining rehandle coupons as debt. Reach out to anyone who has one and ask for debt forgiveness. I'm sure many people can attest to your situation and not hold you accountable. For those that do, create a refund plan and add that as a monthly expense. You don't have time do this work.
4. For the immediate future, do not accept any more free work. God forbid someone can't get their free knife sharpening.
You can sell additional custom work to generate cash but you can't be unrealistic about the timelines.
Let me know if this is helpful, happy to discuss offline.
Just a thought on the lifetime sharpening guarantee. It's an awesome deal for those who need it but others may feel like they're paying for something they won't use. I'm not saying to lower your prices but possibly tack on a premium of maybe 10% to add the service. Great deal for someone who doesn't sharpen and it can add to cash flow.
My two cents (sense?)
I've been keeping an eye on this thread, I personally own a few knives from Mr. Martell. Some full customs, some pre made, a couple he posted as ready made available for sale. I am beyond happy with his work. I ordered a knife as a birthday present to myself, Dave said 6 months, it ended showing up about 15 months later. I was not upset even remotely because of the quality of work. He was also very responsive to any questions I ever had about time frame and very apologetic about said time frame increases. Never once was I upset about it because I understand that things in the real world take time to do. Once I received my knife I was so happy with it I no longer remotely cared about the wait because it was better than I expected.
I also own a few coupons for rehandles and some Hiro spas. I check in once in a while and ask how his list is asking to cash in on those coupons. He is very open with me about a time frame. I am personally in no rush for this work, and he tells me how long it will be and we both decide its best for me to hold on to my knives and wait for his back log to clear out.
Has this been a long on going process, yes. Am I upset about it? No.
I understand that work is work. Especially something on his level of craftsmanship. Maybe I'm just used to living in an area where 90% of our business is done in 3 months and everyone is too busy to get anything done when everyone has the capital to pay for the labor (example, I waited 6 months for my plumber to show up to fix leaks, drains, and faucets because we couldn't afford the over charge of "emergency service", I did however crash course learn some plumbing triage on the internet)
That being said I do understand people's frustration with long wait times, in fact I hope some of you do pull out of his list, especially the ones whom haven't paid him any money yet so I get bumped further up his list, because I am not about to stop doing business with Dave because of a wait. I don't stop going to my barber or my mechanic because they are busy, I just make an appointment and plan accordingly.
His sharpening service (which we have spoken about in length,also very helpful revealing trade secrets, again very communicative with me) is a large portion of his business, income and work load, the more time he spends sharpening and repairing our knives the less time he has to build a new one from essentially scratch ( yes he does stock removal, but that doesn't seem any easier to me than in house forging)
The man also has a family and personal issues. I don't want to speak for him, but we all should assume those things take priority over something so niche and frivolous as a kitchen knife.
You all need to remember that Dave helped build this very community that he is being attacked openly in too, how many of us would have ever even been on his list if it was not for this forum? Me personally, never would have ever known he existed in a time before social media and smart phones.
I'm starting to rant here so I will wrap it up,
I believe Dave is at the very least owed some respect and the benefit of the proverbial doubt here people that he is not receiving. The more time he spends responding to your complaints here the less time he has to get work done. As someone who gets down on themselves professionally when someone complains about their work, it's not productive or constructive to attack him here, I'm sure it just slows him down.
Dave, I wish you all the best and godspeed sir!
I’ve been dealing with Dave for a decade. Past handle work he’s done has exceeded expectations. I consider a long wait par for the course... I’ve got skin in the game at the moment, too. Long story short, I trust the guy.
I spent the last 20 mins putting together a couple paragraphs that now don’t need to go here… because KCMande beat me to the punch and made most of the points I was going to make. So, I’ll give his post above a big +1.
As to the other poster’s points about “debt forgiveness”, I don’t see this as a good ask or a good option at all. It’s a poison pill and a reputation killer to say the least. I can understand why people are grumpy or antsy, and am not sure what to add there… all I can say is that with past re-handle work, the outcome has exceeded my expectations by a lot and all that cost was a little patience
great posts. obsidiank, that is a great way to condense a sound of continuing on (and I think Dave M does it for the most part, even if subconsciously). The one item is "to keep the lights on" is more for keeping a business afloat vs "keep a roof over your family's head and also keep the lights on". While that does not really change anything, it just shows a little more the overall importance, as this is not about keeping a business going per say -- it is about survival, which is even more critical.
I have zero skin in the game, and I understand where you're coming from on the issue of prepaid rehandle coupons, as it doesn't look good to say that you'll contact them in 2, 3, or however many years down the line. I can see some people instantly demanding a refund. On the other hand, it's probably worse to have a customer send in their knife and not have it for another 2 or 3 years because then you'd not only have their money but their knives too. You might just have to suck it up and tell people to wait.
You may want to explain your health issues if needing to delay or put off people with rehandle coupons, as most people are more understanding with an explanation like that.
I used to be a frequent contributor, but work changed that. I went from participant to basically a B/S/T lurker...logging in only to list or buy knives. But this rip on Dave bothers me deeply. It doesn't take much research to know he has some personal challenges. I give him some leeway on that. It doesn't take much to realize he has owned all of it. I give him some leeway on that. And only a dolt fails to realize he co-started this forum. A forum that got me into knives in the first place. Am I saying Dave is perfect, or has done all the right things during his struggles...no. But we are on this forum to exchange knowledge, stories, friendship and fellowship. Sorry, that sounds preachy and I don't mean it that way. I guess I just wish we would all support a man when he's down. I think Dave deserves that.
Wish we saw more of you Neal. And the V's.
You can give Dave all the leeway you want but I don't feel sorry for a man knowing his limitations yet still over selling his services.
And as far as the "health issues", that is no excuse for taking on more work than you can deliver. I am self employed too because of "health issues" as opposed to drawing a government check. The difference between Dave and I is I don't over sell my services, if for no other reason, BECAUSE I have health issues!
He took prepaid orders from customers because he needed cash knowing full well he already had a backlog that was growing out of control. That in itself was not doing business in good faith and doesn't deserve "some leeway". Letting a PREPAID backlog continue to grow knowing he couldn't possibly fulfill those orders in a timely fashion, even for a custom knife business, is unacceptable. And this isn't something that just started, it's been an ever growing problem for at least few years now. Sorry, but I have a tendency to look at situations more realistically.
But somehow I'm guessing you're not waiting on work from Dave...
I've been doing work all this past week on are pre-paid for orders. Things have been going good in this regard.
But unfortunately there's always something bad to report. The KKF trolls have followed me over to HomeButcher's IG page, and a few others, where they can have at me with free will. These boys have been banned here, blame me for it, or just want to grind an axe for whatever reason - like little social justice warriors of the kitchen knife world. This type of thing will certainly, eventually, effect my relationship with HB, and any other retailer who takes my knives on for sale, as well as my business and family.
I'm truly trying my best to get everything caught up but yet there's people actively working against this effort. I'm at a loss as to why. In my time a person would say something to someone and they'd either get punched in the face or work it out right then and there. Now days people get out their cell phone and type things that they would never dare say to someone's face directly.
These boys haven't yet learned that life has a funny way of kicking you in the nuts sometimes and you can't always do a damn thing about it. I hope, as they grow up, that they never have anything bad happen to them, or have other people attack their livelihood for no better reason than they wanted to have some fun at another's expense.
I also hope that karma doesn't visit their families because only then will they know the harm that their actions have caused.
Regardless, I'm going to continue to press on as long as I can.
Best of luck to you Dave.
Dave, At risk of telling you something you already know, you have not caused anyone to be banned here, nor will you cause anyone to be banned here. Unfortunately there are some that cannot or will not abide by rules of good decorum here and in extreme cases they have to be asked to take there internet presence elsewhere.
To us you're just the crusty old fart that started this place and now sits in his rocker on the front porch. Reminds me of my uncle
Dave, I am sorry to hear this (although sadly I am not surprised).
The HomeButcher is a great way for you to get an income stream so you can devote time to catching on the the prepaid work.
It is truly as_swipe behavior.
armed with rock salt 12 gauge and a trucker hat
You guys are funny!
Thanks for the kind words and for cheering me up with some humor.
I just want to say that I get where the customers are coming from here, but I also completely understand where Dave is coming from as well. Dave and I have had our differences in the past lol...but I know full well that we all get hit in the knees on occasion and have to catch up. In this strange little microcosm market we have here in the hand made kitchen knife world...they dynamics aren't always the same as in typical business, and both sides have to keep putting their best foot forward in order to work out issues. That's not an excuse for Dave, nor approbation for the people on Phil's IG who are bashing him. It's just a simple truth.
I myself have a couple of customers who've waited far, far too long. It happens, and while it's literally unacceptable (and I can say this of myself without hesitation)...all a business...and a man...can do is keep trying to catch up and keep taking it in the chin until they do. They've earned the punches, and hopefully their integrity will keep them going until they clear the debt.
Keep doing what you can Dave, and use the stress as a motivator, rather than letting it bring you down.
~ETA - This commentary was made based on a very rough understanding of the circumstances...but in a general sense it's valid regardless. I haven't read this entire thread...the last couple posts were shared to me from commentary made on Phil's IG feed.
Thanks for chiming in Cris.
I have received my knives back from you as you would not give me an estimated date nor would you give me an idea of where I was in "your list". It's been 18 months now since you originally received my knife, so I feel it's a reasonable request to ask for a refund for the two rehandle certificates I had purchased from you. Please advise on how you will be refunding that purchase.
18... months.... damn
I already addressed this issue in my last email correspondence with you....
A: Your coupons are still valid.
The stipulations that you agreed to when you purchased your coupons still apply.
Dave, I waited 18 months, you didn’t do the work, you won’t reveal your “waitlist”, you won’t provide any dates for when the work will be done and now you won’t refund the certificates you aren’t completing?
I am honestly running out of patience with you. You have until this Friday to offer me a solution (concrete date on when work will be done or a refund) or this will become a matter for the legal system.
You insult everyone here who sticks up for you and tries to help out the situation when you just go on an on with your delays and excuses...you can only make excuses for so long before we all get sick of it. Do the work now or refund my money. You have had my money for over 2 years and a God knows how many others. Do the right thing or we can let the courts (and PA AG office) decide what you should do. I’m trying to give you the chance to do the right thing on your own, so let’s see how honest you really are...
I've only been here a short while and I'm not one to post a bunch of stuff, but I read through this whole mess and there is enough drama here to start a soap opera. But, I have been in similar situations in my long life and even though I have no dog in this fight, I have been there. Oh yeah, I also own some Martell products!
First thought, Dave has a talent, I can attest to this through his products I own. Quality, beautifully done and they have help up well over time. I have also sharpened many of his knives for a few others and have thought highly of all those knives, too.
Now, lots of advice here and a lot of it is valid in my opinion, but when I was in a similar situation I got some good advice from a wise person. Something like this. If you don't nip this right now, do what you can to make things right where you can and then just suck it up and tell everyone else, sorry, I can't deliver, period. Yes, maybe when things are going better if they still want work, maybe you can cut a deal, but right now you just need to end the drama. If you don't, people will be feeding on this post forever and this will never end. People are alligators, they love this stuff. You still have a lot of loyal folks who will help you rebuild. Yes, you will piss off a lot of others and they will trash talk you for a while. But, what is the one thing you know for sure? It's that the work you do is excellent, so get back to square one, perfectly clean slate and take your first new order, then using what you learned from this, keep it on track. If you do it right you will come out on top, if you go back to where you were , well, then you need to get out. It won't be pleasant but it will take a lot of the stress off, show you the light and give you an attainable end goal. In a year this could all be behind you and you could be moving forward, but if not, then this thread will just continue on, eating at you forever. Just my $.02 for what it's worth. Oh yeah, in my true story, I told everyone, sorry, changed the name of my business and started over because I believed my lessons learned would see me through a new venture. It did, for five years of success and a lucrative sale so I could pursue other things. You can do this and you have the product to do it with. It's not like you make junk and try to peddle it. Good luck!
Well, lots of people are GIVING advice and GIVING their input, and thats very nice and supportive of the community. The problem is the only thing Dave is giving is excuses. I have yet to hear anyone post that they got their rehandle done recently, and Ive got a bunch of private messages of others who have also not been able to use their certificates. Dave has “no time” to complete all this work he presold years ago but he has plenty of time to monitor and post on the forum updates on NOT doing the work. He can make new and custom knives and sell those. He even posted a while back about using the certificates for up to 50% of the purchase his ready made knives (which I’m sure was heavily in his favor financially to do so).
The right thing is for him to admit he’s in over his head (he did), and the update his customers where they stand in a list (he’s stated he won’t), offer a refund to those who won’t wait (he refuses to), and stop taking in new work till he completes the work he’s been paid for already (he’s still taking custom orders and building his own brand knives).
I’m really glad you got a nice Martell brand knife and are happy with it. Everytime you use it, remind yourself that the price you paid included $100’s of dollars of other customers money who got ripped-off by Dave so he could work on his brand and sell his own product.
Enough advice and input, the only response here that matters is Daves. Clock is ticking Dave, refund by Friday or the legal system gets involved. Based on the personal messages I’ve been getting from your other victims, I’m sure you’re looking at a significant problem on your hands!
Even though I don't have the same frustration I do understand yours, anyone should. It sucks to make an investment and lose it for sure. So, each of you needs to do what is best for you, my advice was not for those who have lost in these deals but maybe an option for some to be made right, some to be very mad, but in the end, an end to it all with closure for everyone, good or bad.
He admitted he was in over his head .... how to get out? Start over, square one.
Customer list? I agree, total transparency is fair in a situation like this, at least then, people could decide to wait or not, then he would know just how deep the refund situation is.
Refund? Yeah, not likely, not until there is enough to pay the bills at home and feed the family. Customers just don't come before family, ever.
Still taking orders and making brand knives, yeah, can't stop that, it feeds the kids. The new orders and brand knives are not the problem for him, that is his start to control and manage to be successful. What is needed is resolution and closure on everything in the past from today back, whether good or bad. Only then can things move forward and begin to turn positive.
Yeah, I'm all for supporting people and I feel for Dave to an extent but this is totally and utterly out of hand.
You can't expect people who have ALREADY PAID for work to be done to sit idly by and watch as new stuff is being made and sold. Your first priority should be to the people whose money you have. You can't expect to take their money, spend it, then say "sorry I can't do what you've paid me for until I earn some more money doing other stuff". It's a ridiculous expectation to place on customers.
I don't have the solution - and to be honest I wonder if you are already too far gone for it to be salvageable - but the situation is totally unacceptable and I'd imagine you'll be in a pretty sticky legal position if (or more likely when) people's patience finally runs out and they go that route.
It's all well and good saying you've had struggles, and people jumping to your defence to corroborate that and say what a great guy you are, but I'm sure there are customers on your list who've had struggles and wish they had a bit of extra money but instead it's been and gone through your hands and they didn't even get what they paid for.
IDK, I don't mean to be a dick but what you're doing is just not OK.
I can't imagine the legal system agreeing.
His first priority is to keep a roof over his family. That has been made clear. That cannot be done with money from 2-3 years ago, as that money is gone. The new knives provide that money.
He is working to dig himself out of a hole. He will not stop producing new work and switch over to previously-paid work until he can afford to do so financially. His back is against the wall, and he is in survival mode.
Yes, it sucks for people who have money out there, as you worked to earn that money and there is no timeframe for seeing the results of it. And it may have been a struggle to accumulate those funds in the first place. But you can yell, scream, sue, etc., and it will not keep him from doing what he needs to do for his family to survive. Hell, he could declare bankruptcy, and get out of any obligations to those who prepaid. But he isn't.
No one thinks that this situation does not suck for Dave, his family, and all of those who sent him money. He is picking the path that has the shortest timeframe for getting back on solid ground, which is making new knives to sell. It is fully understandable that those who are waiting on product/ services they already paid for 2-3 years ago are pissed, but the real question is do you ever want to have a hope in seeing your money or the product, or do you want to work to force him to shut it down, legally get out of his obligations, and start up a new debt-free operation?
My 'skin in the game' is minimal -- 2 rehandle coupons i bought about 5 years ago. But I did not have any knives I needed done at the time, so I did not send him anything other then the coupon money. Once he had to relocate his family form the Redding area I did not bother sending him any knives as it was clear he needed to spend time reestablishing a shop space and trying to get his head above water.
Separate names with a comma.