4 years for a production model? Insight into the knife industry boom and what that means for CRK.
July 21, 2022
Last fall, we posted about our order backlog, product releases, and more. Since then, the trend upward has continued. If you haven't seen it already, our lead times have doubled since September of last year, bringing our average lead time, as of July 2022, to about 4 years. Four years...for a production model?
What's going on?
The simple answer: demand. Like the gun industry, outdoor industry, and similar, the knife industry took off in 2020 and it hasn't stopped. In our case, the amount of knives on order is over 5 times more than our current yearly capacity. We're not alone either, friends in the industry, suppliers, and distributors are all busier than ever. It's possible that COVID-19, stimulus checks, early retirement, and increased consumer interest has played a role. We're not really sure. But for now, demand is growing and so are we.
Road blocks and action plans
Hiring in a market where there are more jobs than people (apply here!); bringing in machining centers that are backordered 6-9 months minimum; waiting for more square footage to open up, planning for inflation and shortages: these are all things that are not impossible; they just take time. We also know that the market could change over night. Demand could diminish. For now, we're growing as logically as possible and we're so thankful for the many people who continue to support our brand. As for growth: so far this year, we've acquired 7800 more square feet. We've added to our mill shop and have more machines on the way. We're investing in a remarkable staff. We're planning, we're making...We're on our way!
What does an extended backlog mean for the individual consumer?
For our individual customers, this means that ordering directly from the factory takes longer; however, getting a new knife is not impossible. For now, the quickest way to purchase a new knife will be from an Authorized Dealer. Our dealers submit orders frequently, ordering years in advance, so that they can maintain stock. Right now, demand is high, so product listings may read, "out-of-stock," more often. Dealers are re-stocked regularly, so signing up for email re-stock notifications from multiple dealers or by working directly with a dealer will be the quickest way to purchase a knife.
You consistently have a backlog and now it's much longer than I'd expected. There are a lot of other options out there. Why haven't you expanded to keep up with demand?
In short, we are expanding. Our approach to manufacturing is simple: quality over quantity (but of course, with a sense of urgency)! We are methodically growing our business: buying and outfitting more mills and grinders, automating processes, inducting new and skilled craftsmen into our family trade, and gaining more square footage. We are growing steadily. Though demand may outpace our output, we will not compromise quality over quantity. So we'll invest in the right people for our team. We'll wait a little bit longer for the machines that we know are right for our business. We'll keep putting out record months of quality knives. We're pretty sure our strive for excellence is why so many of our customers are patient and loyal, and for this, we are very grateful.
Your lead times are long and dealers seem to always be out of stock. How do I get a knife ASAP?
Typically, ordering from a dealer is the fastest route! Our Authorized Dealers submit orders frequently, ordering years in advance, so that they can maintain stock. Product listings may read, "out-of-stock," but many dealers are re-stocked regularly. The best way to get a knife is by signing up for email re-stock notifications from multiple dealers or by working directly with a dealer.
You may also place an order directly through our website. Every model requires a lead time, however; we don’t take any payment up front and you can cancel any time.
Will this update affect my current order?
For orders already placed, please contact us directly for an estimate that is specific to your order date.
My current knives needs service or is in for service. Will Direct Order lead times affect Servicing lead times?
For the most part, direct order lead times do not affect Servicing lead times. Servicing lead times are generated based on how many knives that are in for service at once, number and complexity of requested services, and available staff. See servicing lead times on our Send your Knife in for Service page.
Why don’t you raise your prices so that you can expand faster?
We make every effort to keep our prices reasonable for knives within our niche of the market. If the cost of materials, supplies, and labor significantly increases, implementing a price increase to backorders may be unavoidable, but for now, we’re doing our best to keep our prices as fair as possible.
Will you ever go overseas to meet demand?
Not a chance.