Welcome to Blade-Tech Industries, the leading manufacturer of custom thermoplastic and injection-molded tactical holsters, knife sheaths and magazine pouches for military, law enforcement departments, special ops, civilians, competition shooters, and military agencies worldwide.
Founded in 1988, Blade-Tech is best known for their creative Kydex® designs and stringent manufacturing standards. Blade-Tech has been producing state-of-the-art holsters and knife sheaths for more than 20-years. However, these days there’s a whole lot more to Blade-Tech than just holsters and knife sheaths. We go behind the scenes with CEO Steve Avila and CPO Tom Crawford to get the inside scoop on how Blade-Tech views the future, and how they plan to get there.
It’s a beautiful morning as we head from Seattle towards Tacoma on some of Washington’s most scenic highway. After a quick stop at Starbucks we arrive at Blade-Tech headquarters in Puyallup, WA.
Just inside the entrance doors, we’re met with an open showroom of display racks filled with gun holsters and all things Blade-Tech. A quick glance around the place and you know immediately that there is a lot more going on here than just gun holsters and knife sheath manufacturing. We quickly meet up with CEO Steve Avila and COO Tom Crawford to begin our tour.
“Creating reliable gun holsters and knives with a great design is only a fraction of what we do here at Blade-Tech,” Avila says.
Our first stop was to check out the Blade-Tech knife creations. “Creating reliable gun holsters and knives with a great design is only a fraction of what we do here at Blade-Tech,” Avila says. “The goal is to diversify.” He tells us how Blade-Tech has partnered with new technology and small businesses to introduce new manufacturing capabilities into the company. In addition to our production of guns holsters, magazine pouches and knife sheaths we’re also designing and manufacturing all types of other gear such as backpacks, belts, vests, and the list goes on.
Understanding that Blade-Tech has experienced substantial growth spurts in the previous three years, Avila explains how they’ve recently expanded the manufacturing facility by more than 15,000 feet. It’s easy to look around and see that the energy here is buzzing with innovation and creativity. They’re doing business with various other vendors, too, even a bit of manufacturing in China. In some cases, they’re even doing business directly with the competition!
Blade-Tech has created more than 75 jobs in the area, about 50 of them as full-time positions. They’ve also created a top-notch in-house sales team supported by some very structured dealer programs.
Blade-Tech also manufactures OEM equipment for 5.11 Tactical, Taser International, Gunsite Academy, Cold Steel, Spyderco, Al Mar, Micro-Tech, Ka-Bar, Camillus, Strider, Buck, Boker, Gatco/Timberline, Ontario, Mission, Chris Reeve and Gerber/Fiskars. “We’re the guys that compliment everyone else,” he says.
Gun holsters, are a large part of the Blade-Tech product family. They recently designed and manufactured the ThumbDrive™ Level II holster for 5.11 Tactical and a line of concealment holsters for Praetor Defense, in addition to several other brands they support. Blade-Tech brand holsters are also available direct from retailers.
Blade-Tech also manufactures OEM equipment for 5.11 Tactical, Taser International, Gunsite Academy…
Growth does not come without pain, though. Scaling business systems to meet production and operations needs has certainly been a challenge for Blade-Tech. “Some of the biggest challenges we’ve faced were the ability to integrate our inventory SKU system with our own production and business systems. So far, six teams have failed to do this successfully for us, including Microsoft. Now we have the resources in-house to do make these changes ourselves, and we already expect to be online at the beginning of the year with a new website, a refreshed look for our brand and new products to market,” Avila tells us.
When asked about the future of Blade-Tech, Avila says, “We hope to do less off-shore manufacturing and more on-shore manufacturing as we grow into the next years ahead. Larger teams, larger facilities, and a lot more R&D coupled with more in-house production.”
FACTORY TOUR PHOTOS
To learn more about Blade-Tech Industries and to view their full line of products visit their website at http://blade-tech.com or visit your local retailer.
Be sure to visit Blade-Tech Industries at SHOT Show 2012 in booth #1625.
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