Will the Real Knife HQ Please Stand Up?

I recently came across a funny post about knife hq. Part of the post reads, “At first it seemed as though there was a dispute over who owned the actual knife hq. I saw a blade hq as number one when researching knife hq, but how can the blade hq be number one? As I delved further in to my research I found there really is only one knife hq… if you do the research you will find that Survival Knife HQ is the real Knife HQ and that simply put, the others don’t even come close.” 

I just though I’d take a moment to answer the poster’s question and correct his misconceptions. Quite simply put- bladehq.com is knifehq.com.  There’s no dispute over who owns knife hq or which company is the “real” knifehq. Furthermore a quick visit to both websites in question will leave you with little doubt about which one doesn’t “even come close.”

Speaking of survival knives– if you’re actually looking for some you can buy check out a knife hq owned website called survivalknives.com! We sell- wait for it- survival knives. I guess, given the evidence, you could say SurvivalKnives.com is the “real” survival knife hq.

Posted by Cam, July 3, 2011

Looking for a Sign

When we moved to our new building back in June 2009 I remember wondering how long it would take us to put up a sign on our building. The answer turned out to be one year and ten months. After doing some research we chose  Allied Electric Sign from Salt Lake. The were exceptional- reasonable cost, quick production, excellent quality and they came and installed it for us. I would not hesitate to recommend them or use them in the future.

This sign is about four times larger than the sign on our last building. One really nice thing is that we have good freeway visibility (south & north). People seem to have a much easier time finding us. Perhaps this is what contributes to the increased store traffic we’ve been seeing.

And now when customers come in they are greeted with a store, as opposed to the mess from just a year ago. We pushed the counters forward to corral customers in (I’m pretty sure I mentioned this in another post), built out shelves and quickly filled them.

These pictures are a diorama shot of the store as you walk in. There’s a lot of stuff and I think the overall feel is nice. Our cabinets will probably need to be replaced at some point  (pieces of the veneer are coming off and the lightning didn’t survive the move) but they do for now. It’s pretty exciting to see something in your head actually start to take shape.

Overall things are steadily evolving. We separated out some of the departments (i.e. order fulfillment & customer service) and I think that while initially difficult the long term result will be very beneficial. Below you can see our order fulfillment center.  We’ve expanded it a little from last year. Additionally we reorganized our warehouse a bit, but we’re actually starting to feel a space crunch. I don’t know how we would have survived if we hadn’t moved when we did. We’ve still got three years left on our current contract and so we’re trying to acquire the unit next to us so we don’t run out of room.

The customer service center is adjacent to the order fulfillment area. Right now this space is also shared partially by our product department. And we finally started using the space upstairs! We have (part of) our product team, our content & marketing and our programming department upstairs. Indeed, growth has been good (personally I find growth to be quite challenging. That will be a great topic for another post though…). 

I never thought I’d see the day where I could work in my office, but I’ve been spending more and more of my time there. Ive got a great crew, and – with regard to business – we’ve been very fortunate. There’s a lot on our plate this year, but I’m confident that we’ll do it all and then some.

www.bladehq.com, www.bladeplay.com, www.emergencymatters.com

Posted April 17, 2011 by Cam Hughes

Just Plugging My Companies!

At BladeHQ we recently created a content & marketing department. I think this effort is critical to our success. Some of the most important elements attached this expected success are, sadly, proprietary. As much as I would love to discuss everything it will have to wait indefinitely. Suffice it to say, marketing revolves around the idea of being mentioned. The more places you’re mentioned the better.

And so it is with pleasure that I mention my companies on my personal blog. I’ll just spotlight one every month or so until I run out…

BladeHQ.com was started back in 2003 as a spin off of my first company, BladePlay.com. It’s purpose was to sell higher end knives and gear it’s marketing more toward professionals and collectors. Initially we had limited success because we lacked a “brick and mortal” retail store (a requirement imposed by many knife manufacturers). We opened our first “store” late in 2003 and started carrying name brand knives on our website. With careful planning and some luck our web store continued to grow even through the recent recessions.

With unparalleled in stock availability, top tier customer service and unmatched value we have become one of the largest knife retail companies in the world. We specialize in military, police and collectible knives. We carry brands including Spyderco Knives, Protech Knives, Microtech Knives, Kershaw Knives, CRKT Knives, TOPS Knives, SOG Knives, Benchmade Knives. We’ve got folding knives, spring assisted knives, butterfly knives, and everything else in between.

Our growth has allowed us to expand and in more recent years we have expanded our offerings to include more niche items such as survival gear, outdoor equipment, watches and even clothing. 2011 has started off super and we have some exciting plans for the coming months.

Physical Store Required

The year was 2003. We had been running BladePlay for a few months and we wanted to get into some higher end cutlery. Our first two picks were Benchmade and Kershaw. We called them both and one of their first questions was, “Do you have a physical store?” We didn’t, and so our efforts were temporarily stonewalled. Later that year we moved from my home into our first warehouse in Orem, UT.

One of the first phone calls from the warehouse was to Benchmade. “Yes, we have a store.” The warehouse was 900 square feet, about 100 of which was a small front office. That office was “the store.”  Benchmade sales were brisk and things were going well.  And then one day our Benchmade rep, Campbell, called us. “Hey! I’m about fifteen minutes from your store.”

Fate was on our side that day. We had a customer in the warehouse at that very moment (Vaughn). With his help we literally carried the warehouse shelving into the front office and set up a “store.” We threw a desk in the corner and Jim manned the phone. “Browse!” I commanded Vaughn as Campbell pulled up.  As I opened the door to welcome Campbell the phone rang and Jim took the call. Campbell eyed our setup with warranted suspicion. There was a tense moment and then he finally shrugged. The store was good enough.

So why a store? Lost of brand name companies require that you have a physical (brick and mortar) store in order to carry their product line. Campbell explained that, in Benchmade’s case, it was a mechanism to ensure brand integrity. Benchmade doesn’t want people selling their knives out of a garage. Additionally, if you have a store it gives you a certain credibility. I can certainly see that angle. As an established knife retailer I’ve actually come to appreciate this requirement. It’s a barrier to entry. One layer of protection for those of us in the business already. But the walls are coming down.

Not all brands care if you have  a store. Many are readily available through distribution networks or from the manufacturer directly. And with Internet shopping become such  a dominant force many companies that “require” a storefront don’t really check anymore. Part of me wishes they would. I enjoy an equal playing field. A guy selling out of this garage doesn’t have the overhead of a guy who runs a full on store (my overhead is nearly $4000 a day). Still, despite the drawbacks of a store, they are really cool. Which brings me to our new store.

 We moved to our current location last July (2009- you can see the store we threw together here if you’d like). It wasn’t until this past week week (November 2010) that we decided to finally get things finished up. A store gives you power. It gives you legitimacy. It gives you bragging rights. It’s a lot of work, but I really think when we’re finished it’s going to be beautiful. The design came together pretty well. Once it’s finished I’ll be sure to post more pictures (some before and after).

I was reading “Delivering Happiness” the other day. I smiled when Tony was explaining how shoe manufactures required companies to have a physical store. Zappos ended up buying a local shoe business so they could carry the brands they needed. Our store has been a great tool. But when we allowed it to fall into disrepair it didn’t seem to matter (except to our egos). Maybe we’ve outgrown the need for a store (our brand has become reasonably well respected), but we’re going to have one! Stay tuned.

A Quick Update for the Sake of Mankind

Make no mistake, this blog is for me. I have previously mentioned that I’m using WordPress as a format to write a book. Once in awhile I will make a public post, but that’s not my primary focus right now.

Most of the posts on the website are private, as they contain somewhat sensitive business information. My goal is to literally write about my business experiences as they occur. Hopefully, one day… one sunny happy day, I can compile all of my adventures into an enjoyable (and helpful) book.

In the future I may post excepts from these private posts or allow people to access them with a password. And I will sometimes post something business related that I don’t consider private or feel would harm my business.

So… where have I been? Oh man. What a story that is. Let’s just say I’ve been very busy with my businesses. When I started the first one back in 2002 I had no idea that it would become a never ending rollercoaster filled with thrills, despair, joy, pain and indescribable mix of feelings that often leaves me in a state that defies description.

What do I do? Knives. Survival gear. Emergency preparation. Mostly Knives. I operate BladeHQ, BladePlay, EmergencyMatters and other online ecommerce sites. We have some really cool stuff. If you like knives start here: Benchmade Knives, Microtech Knives, Protech Knives, Boker Knives and Tops Knives

 We have such amazing plans… I wish I could talk more about them. Our goal is simple: become the best knife company in the world. Next year- 2011. That’s when we’ll start running. All this time, the last seven years, that was the framework. That was us crouching in the perfect position to begin our sprint. When the the shot is fired we will start running, we won’t stop and we will win.

Sticker & Emblem Insanity

UPDATE (October 16, 2011): Yes, I’m still hard at work adding stickers to my car! I recently found a company who manufacturers stickers that fit in the “CORVETTE” indentations on the rear bumper and  passenger dash. I picked Victory Red for the exterior and Cobalt Red for the interior.  The same company also offers black vinyl stickers to cover the white and yellow air bag warnings on the sun visors. Done and done!

In addition to stickers I’ve been adding some  accents in the car. I recently installed a tone shift knob and some leather door wraps (both Cobalt Red) that match the seat. I also put in new Autometer ES series gauges (backlit red) and I’m considering replacing my gauge cluster with a red model. To me form is as important as function.

To begin with, I apologize for the pictures. First, because no one really wants to see them. And second because I took them on my iPhone. Cameras on phones have come a long way, but it’s still hard to take pictures in low light (a lot of graininess and motion blur), close ups, and anywhere you might need a half way decent flash. But you can’t beat a camera phone for convenience. But I digress. I now present to you my… quirk.

Plastered across my rear windshield is a “Benchmade” banner.  My company, BladeHQ, sells Benchmade Knives and, being a loyal fan and purveyor, I proudly advertise Benchmade on the back of my car. I also have a Microtech sticker (Microtech Knives are also very cool) but I’m not sure if there’s room for it right now.

On the front left of the windshield I’ve got an ACT sticker (I just put in a new ACT clutch) . The red and silver won me over. I’m a sucker for a fun sticker.

On the front right of the windshield I’ve got an HP Tuners sticker (this is the program I use to tune my car). I thought the white added some nice contrast.

On both sides of the car, below the Z06 badge, I added custom “800 HP” emblems (from West Coast Corvette). I unabashedly promote the current crank horsepower of the car in the same way the stock C6  Z06 badge does (in tiny red letter it says, “505 HP”… but it’s not anymore!). I get a lot of flak for this, but I can take it.

Inside the engine (on top of the intercooler) I’ve got a little plaque that that has the engine specs for the LS7 (left side) and then an “LS7” emblem (right side). They add a nice little splash of color to the engine bay (can you tell I like red, black and silver?).

And of course I’ve got my car peppered with various red Autobot decals. Yeah, maybe I need some help. I try not to make things tacky (believe me, everything looks much better in real life), but it’s possible that I do go overboard sometimes. To my credit I haven’t added a “twin turbo” emblem…. yet. But then again,  I am guilty of putting a Hannah Montana sticker on the drill press at work and insisting that everyone refer to it as “Miley.”

Anyway, I hope this handy guide will help you to recognize my car. It may be hard to see anything though, since I’ll be blowing past you at light speed. Ooooh!

Posted November 09, 2010