If you are just shoeing horses and loving the farrier trade, then you are where I was for many years. In 1992, I did my first clinic, and came on board as a Mustad clinician in the late 90s. However, it wasn’t until my book came out in 2011 that I really got a taste for what it is like as a supplier, printer, manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, etc. That is another thing altogether, and I sometimes miss the days where I didn’t know about it.
Since I started selling the Chris Gregory hoof knife myself, I have had to be more than just an author and farrier educator. There is a side to being a manufacturer rep and salesman that I am just not that good at. I do not personally like it when someone is trying hard to sell me something, so I don’t like to try too hard to push a product myself. Even though I have a great product that I believe in, selling it is harder than you would think.
I have been long time friends with Nolan and Shelley Walker at Nature Farms Farrier Supply in Norman, OK. When Cody and I were headed to Five Star, we decided to stop in and see their setup. It is another fantastic family run business that is clean, orderly, friendly and had a great feel to it. We could not have been more impressed, but back to my story.
Now here is one of my dilemmas. I have done clinics at supply shops all over the country and I am friends with so many people in the supply business. I want them to buy and sell my books and hoof knives, but I am also a customer of the supply industry. However, there is no way that I can buy from every supplier. And, like I want their business, I know they want mine. Thankfully, Steve Hoselton made it easy when he made Cody an Anvil Brand rep. With Cody in that position, we end up doing our business through them. But, that still doesn’t help when I go to a supplier and suggest they buy from me when I am not buying from them.
Nolan has sold my book for many years because there has been good demand for it. However, the hoof knife is another story. If you look at the hoof knife industry, is is saturated like you wouldn’t believe. There are so many knives made by so many different companies and individuals that it is almost hard to comprehend. What that means to a supplier is that you can easily have inventory in stock that you can’t move, which is not a good thing at all to have.
So I am talking to Nolan about the knives and I have one out of the box on the shelf. I accidentally knock it off the shelf, and I as I reach down to catch it, I cut a huge gash in the edge of my hand. It begins to bleed profusely as Nolan goes for a towel and the first aid kit. I go right on with my sales pitch, but I don’t have to talk about how sharp the knife is now. I have just demonstrated it.
I wrap the wound, which is still bleeding in the photo you see here 48 hours later, and Nolan increases his order. I can only guess it is because of my near finger amputation, but either way, I am grateful. As I reflect on this, I am happy that I don’t sell axes, guns or bow-and-arrows. I do not think I could take the hit those would take to make the sale.
We went out to eat with Nolan, Shelley and their daughter Chancey, and it was a wonderful visit. It just reaffirms what a great trade this is and the incredible people that make it up. Thanks Walkers.