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If Queen/Schatt & Morgan don't bounce back, becoming defunct...

Discussion in 'Traditional Folders and Fixed Blades' started by PocketKnifeJimmy, Feb 6, 2018.

  1. Steven65

    Steven65 Traditional Hog Platinum Member

    Mar 11, 2008
    With respect, the key to surviving and being successful in todays specialty cutlery industry is by producing fewer, but higher end knives in shorter runs that have good profit margins. Users and collectors are demanding quality workmanship and top end materials.

    The success of companies like GEC, CRK and ZT are proof that this model works. Supplying cheap mass market knives to hardware and discount stores at low or no margins is a path to destruction and it has claimed the lives of almost the entire traditional US cutlery industry.
    jc57, neal70, JB in SC and 6 others like this.
  2. Will Power

    Will Power

    Jan 18, 2007
    I hope for decently made Queen knives with consistent QC like GEC has, or not at all.

    All the hype and fanfare about the Daniels take-over in 2012 - new lines, restructuring, master cutlers was not matched by the reality of what they were turning out recently: odd patterns, suspicion of parts knives, shocking QC & apparently customer service, the gap (right word) between price and quality opening up. Not credible, not sustainable. Only consistent QC can guarantee a future, not rhetoric, making low cost knives or aiming for high price tags to cover things.

    I personally believe that Queen won't be going overseas. That market of low cost but very reasonable knives is already well covered by RR or Schrade China, like it or not. No room there for more I think.

    Thanks, Will
    neal70, Ratbert and Steven65 like this.
  3. Carolinabuck


    Oct 27, 2017
    Here's hoping they do make a comeback. IMO there are enough knife brands coming out of China. I guess I'm a sentimental soul, but I like having queen around.
    neal70 and PocketKnifeJimmy like this.
  4. afishhunter


    Oct 21, 2014
    Agree. For the specialty cutlery industry it is true that producing large quantities of knives is to their detriment.
    However, producing limited runs of expensive knives is not a guarantee to success.
    Look at Canal Street, Queen, Schat & Morgan. They went head to head with GEC, and followed the same business pattern.
    To be honest, I do not understand how a run of a couple hundred knives aimed at roughly 1% or 2% (at most) of the market while ignoring the other 98 ~ 99% is a good business model.
    Schrade and its related brands did not go under because they made knives for the masses. They went under from a combination of issues, including the labor unions, management, among other issues.
    There are several knife manufacturers that cater to the mass market, both here in the USA, and abroad. Victorinox, Opinel, Svord, Mercator, Rough Rider, (a USA brand made overseas), Buck, CRKT, and (for the most part) Case, are examples.
    GEC, CRK, ZT, and others may make a very good product. They serve their nitche market well. However, they are out of most people's price range.
    98% (give or take) of the cutlery market are not knife nuts. They need and want a product that is affordable, and will cut what they need to cut. Not everyone can afford to spend more than $20 or $30 for a knife; not even here in the USA.

    The average user does not demand "top end" materials or "super steels". 10xx, 440A, 420HC, 420J2, 4116, with a good heat treat all meet or exceed all their needs, and are easy to keep sharp.
    Most people do not care if there are minor gaps between the liners and springs, or that there may be minor blade rub. Contrary to popular belief, mass produced pocket knives made in the 1800's to the 2000's did not always have perfectly centered blades, nor were they always gap free. Even more amazing, people did not expect them to be perfect!

    Case makes knives for the working man that wants a useable knife, that does not cost a lot of money. (personally, I think $50 for a knife is "a lot of money")
    They also make limited runs of knives for the collector market.
    Case's "bread and butter" is the non knife nut market.

    Buck markets their products to the working man.
    For the collector market, they also do a few limited runs, and they also have a Custom Shop, where you can order certain knives just the way you want. A "one off" if you will; Your choice of blades, bolsters, covers, with or without cover pins, with or without finger grooves.
    Buck's bread and butter market is the non knife nut.

    Utica does not do limited runs, that I know of. Their main market is the non knife nut.

    Böker makes knives for the knife enthusiast (Tree Brand) and the non knife enthusiast. (Böker Plus, Böker Magnum, etc)

    Like I said, I hope Queen, Schat & Morgan, and their other brands are able to restructure and come back.
    I also hope they return to their roots and market to the other 98% of the knife market, not just the 2% of knife enthusiasts.
    neal70, sitflyer and gaj999 like this.
  5. Will Power

    Will Power

    Jan 18, 2007
    Problem is that Traditional knife interest is dominated by the 2% or so of enthusiasts. Knife using and carrying has declined and mass users either go modern or buy based on price alone. Moreover, there are still a lot of old unused or decent second hand Traditionals knocking about which can also satisfy demand.

    I agree with you that a nostalgia distortion as to the excellence of all knives made between x - y can give people an unrealistic picture as to the merits of older knives, nor does everybody slaver after modern super-steels. But, quality has always existed and some now defunct brands were superior in build to others, no question. Having GEC with less competitors does create a problem, that company certainly is parsimonious with its production of any steel other than 1095, not a thing I applaud. Buck is apparently cutting back on its Traditional pocket-knife lines, so their core interest may lie elsewhere. CASE can make very decent knives that get good use&service but most are in the collector cabinet.
  6. afishhunter


    Oct 21, 2014
    @Will Power, I hate to do it, but I must agree that a lot of people are going to the "modern" OHO knife.
    Personally, I've always found a multi-blade traditional more versatile than any single blade knife, but then again, what do I know?
    I've always paired my 110 or 6/7OT with a 4 blade "Scout"/"Camp" knife, and either a Stockman, Trapper, or 2 blade Barlow. (ditto on the days I carry a fixed blade.)
    I recently broke down and bought a modern OHO (Ontario RAT 1) but still pair it with a couple slipjoints.

    I feel sorry for those that do not have anyone to teach them how to safely use a knife. You Tube videos sure as heck don't do that from what I've seen.
    Too many people think a locking blade is required for safety.
    I'm a "vintage antique" according to one of my niece's, and in the 58 or so years that I've carried slipjoints and friction folders, I've never had a blade close on me while using the knife.
    Of course I've never had any reason to stab some poor car or refrigerator ... maybe that has something to do with it?
    neal70 and Will Power like this.
  7. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    I too believe that Case is more sought out by collectors than users (although their knives are certainly useable). They are usually less expensive than the GEC's and Queens were, but also involve less old school hands on craftsmanship (hence the higher prices for the GEC and the like). But, imo, it's no doubt that the collector is what keeps Case alive as well.

    PS. I do find a major "cool factor" to know that a current day made traditional knife was made using old school hands on craftsmanship (GEC, Queen/S&M), but, that said... I still have room in my collection for Case knives because I like USA made, and there is still enough hands on craftsmanship to retain some cool factor for me.
    I have a Case Hobo in my collection that I find simply beautiful. The execution of the entire knife just makes me proud to show it and tell folks it's a USA made product. That quality thing seems to be something that Queen was having a hard time staying atop of... And obviously their pricing would have one demand the quality be there.
    Holding out some hope that Queen survives, not only as an American product, but as a quality made one.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2018
  8. MCar

    MCar Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 20, 2015
    Ha, I love the idea of Spyderco buying the Queen brand. That could actually be amazing. Bark River has long talked about making folders. Maybe they could buy the brand. I'm sure there's a big learning curve on making slipjoints, though.
  9. JB in SC

    JB in SC Gold Member Gold Member

    May 19, 2001

    I agree, the path to being successful in this market is higher quality limited runs. Take a look at early S&M catalogs, the company had some really interesting patterns. Take for instance the S&M Heritage Series of old patterns that were re-introduced. Those few patterns (and more) would have been instant sellouts and very desirable if they had been produced to the current GEC standard of quality.

    As far as another company acquiring Queen, I don't see that happening until the debt is handled, if that is the issue. Few buyers would want to take on existing debt created or acquired by the current owners.
  10. Sword and Shield

    Sword and Shield

    Apr 3, 2004
    If BRKT ever makes a slipjoint I will be stunned. They had a focus group on KF back in about 2005 studying the prospect. I know, I was one of the twelve. Still have the convex Queen 11 they whipped up to see how convex would do on a slipjoint.

    10 years and nothing. They seemed to let the project die in about 2008, and I haven’t heard a thing in years.
  11. helobite


    Aug 26, 2008
    I remember what happened to Schrade and Uncle Henry. It will be a sad day if Queen branded knives are no longer made in the US and are, instead, made in China.
    PocketKnifeJimmy and Babalu32 like this.

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