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Stuller - and the state of loyalty

I want to preface this story with two statements. I am not in any
way affiliated with the Stuller corporation, and I do not speak for
Matt Stuller or anyone in his organization.

With that out of the way, I have a story to tell you. I am a loyal
customer of Stuller, not a big dollar customer, just a loyal
customer. Yesterday I went to use a set of draw tongs I had ordered
some time ago, only to find they weren’t usable, the jaws didn’t
close properly. I ordered this particular pair because they were
advertised as “made in Germany.” That stamp was enough for me to
feel confident of their quality.

For the sake of brevity, let’s say the quality wasn’t what I thought
it would be. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that until the moment I
needed the darn things. Needless to say I was frustrated, I mean
really frustrated. Out of that frustration, I called Stuller and
spoke to some poor girl who was surely having a nice day, until she
was routed to me. In a rather frustrated tone, I told her what had
happened. I reminded her, quite a few times, that I was frustrated,
but still a loyal customer, and now I’d found they’d sent me a pair
of draw tongs that were not only unusable, they were ca ca.

She was patient, listened, and then put me on hold and called the
tool department. She came back with a means to replace my pair, and
send me one that was personally inspected. I got the pair the next
day, and those tongs and I will surely live happily ever after. So,
this might be the end of the story, but it’s not.

Yesterday I got a call from Stuller, it was Andy the tool guy. I
called him back today. The purpose of his call was to say thanks. No,
that’s not a typo, that’s why he called. Andy didn’t care if I spent
a couple of bucks a year, or a couple million bucks a year. He said,
I was a customer, and that’s all that mattered. He told me he
appreciated my willingness to point out something that had fallen
through the cracks. He said a customer who takes the time to keep
the lines of communications open, through good and bad, is a valued
customer. Those few words made me think. Isn’t that exactly what I
want from the people who walkin my door?

I guess that’s why I keep the shortcut to Stuller’s website on all
our computer desktops. This is the place I go first, for everything.
In the world of jewelry I’m a little fish in a very big ocean, but
to some size doesn’t matter, what matters is loyalty. If you asked
me why I think Stuller is a giant in the industry, I’d tell you
that’s the reason. Mistakes? Yeah, we all make them, but what helps
define us as business owners is how we deal with them. But, here’s
the important part, you cannot dealwith a problem if you don’t know
it exists.

Today my wife will likely place an order, and I guess it’s no
surprise to you where we’ll shop first. I appreciate knowing my
meager invoice holds the same importance as some that, shall we say,
aren’t so meager. But it’s really more than that, it’s about loyalty,
a commodity that seems to be losing fancy. But, maybe it’s not too
late, Maybe if the little fish notice, the bigger fish will start to
notice too. Sometimes good things come from the little packages, and
hopefully, this might be one of those times.

With Best Regards,
Ski & Cathy

I have said for many years that if Stuller ever went public that I’d
buy stock in the company.

Jo Haemer

Ski & Cathy,

I whole-heartedly agree with you. I have been a Stuller fan since…
oh 20 years or so ago. When I placed an early order (back when it
was only by phone!), I said something like “I’m just a small
operation.” The person taking the phone order responded with “We’ll
work to make you a bigger one.”

And, Andy, the tool guy, is a good technical resource too.

Judy in Kansas, where it is such a beautiful day with a gentle
breeze wafting 82 degrees and delighting everyone… including the
birds. Just saw an oriole drinking sugar water from an open cup on my


I have try to setup an account with Stuller!

I live in Spain, in order to do I had to sign up to w9 part of the
patriot act Why should I?

I am not a us citizen or resident, neither I don’t want to be one!

I have to send two invoices from wholesalers! It’ s nobody’s
business what I buy somewhere else

I had to send bank in spite of the fact that I pay by
credit card before shipment

And by email there were some other request I forgot about

Stuller is maybe a good company, but arrogant toward (foreign?)
potential customers I am only interested in purchasing materials

Esslinger and specially Rio Grande give a great service, any request
and in 24 hours I have a reply


I only know about Stuller because someone I make some silver
bracelets for has the metal sent from Stuller. Recently , I got some
sheets that were packed with duct tape contacting the edges of the
metal, and it took a few minutes to fingernail it off, and a few more
later (frustratingly) to clean off what I missed the first time, and
even more time fiber-wheeling out pits that formed when other specks
I’d missed pressed into the metal at about 45 tons.

I’m just mentioning this because I did take the time to fill out the
feedback card, explaining what happened and asking them not to pack
metal with duct tape contacting it.

From reading Ski & Cathy’s story, I’m sure I won’t have this problem
again. Little details, yes, but all the little stuff adds up…and
while I’m on the subject, don’t you just hate it when you get metal
that’s packed with cellophane packing tape stuck to the sheet ?!.
That is the WORST !.Don’t get me started on that ! (^;.


Thanks for the about Stuellers. I shop around when there
is a specific item I’m in need of. I too go for the non Orient made
items as i find there is better quality control and usually better
made tools from other regions in the world. I really try to purchase
USA made to try and do my meager bit for jobs in this country. That
said I tended to stay with two companies for most my purchases. Rio
which we all seem to use, and then from my long ago days at the
Revere Academy, I tended to go to Otto Frei. Last summer two days
before i was to be on stage doing my metal smithing demos at the Utah
Shakespeare Festival, I had the head of my chasing hammer fall off. I
was sad since I had that hammer for over the past 20 years. I had
backups that I had purchased locally in Florida before I had traveled
back west. Well the first night on stage, about a half hour into the
show, the head on my back up fell off. It was new, and I was more
than bit upset about it. Since the demo I do is mostly improv as to
what I say and do, I just switched to another part of my demo’s and
carried on. The next day I searched the town for new handles and
shims to mount the heads. No Joy in So Utah. I then checked my normal
big two I would order from, Rio and Otto. I decided to go with Otto
Frei since I could also get new handles at the same time that I
liked. I paid the inflated amount for the next day air as well. It
arrived in time for me to head to the next show performance. I set up
and the first patrons showed up. I picked up my new hammer and made
my first whack with it. The second whack, the head went flying off
and almost hit a small child. I quickly improved and talked about the
wee hammer witches that tried to steal the souls of the little
children. No one in the crowd knew it was not planned. it helps being
a smart A$$ sometimes. Later that night I inspected the hammer. It
had no shim on it to hold it on. It had just been jammed onto the
handle and nothing to keep from what happened happening. It hadn’t
been the cheapest hammer either. I called Otto the next day. If I
ever hear some customer service rep say, "You get what you pay for!"
I will electronically reach through the phone wires and hammer them.
I explained what had happened again and the lack of quality control.
The girl said, “I suggest you purchase a good more expensive hammer
if you want one that works.” In exasperation, I asked to speak to her
supervisor. She hung up on me. Now I was really upset. One other
thing she did say before she hung up was the hammer was made in
China. I checked the online catalogsof several companies. I found
that most carried either the cheaper made hammers from China or they
carried really expensive ones from Germany and the new Fretz line. In
the mean time I had a local machine shop fix two of the hammers with
new custom made handles they had a friend of theirs make. I didn’t
trust the handles I got from Otto, they just seemed wrong in my hand.
Long story short, I purchased a new Fretz hammer from Rio. After
hearing about what had happened with Otto, they even sent it next day
at no cost. I love beyond words that Fretz hammer. It feels so good
and is a dream to use. Not even the extreme dry weather of So Utah,
nor the overly humid weather of Orlando Fl. have caused one bit of

Having heard Stueller’s has good customer service and cares, it will
replace Otto on my list of go to tool companies. I too may not spend
big dollars each year, But if all the small purchasers had similar
problems and started changing to those that are reliable, it would
make a big dent. I care about the companies that care about me.

Again thanks for your story.

The old lady in Florida.

stuller is the best in all aspects of their operations, including my
one store company and if something comes in wrong, its always my
fault. hope they never go public it will go down for sure.

They are just trying to confirm that you are what you say you are.
They don’t sell to the general public so they are just confirming
that you are a wholesaler or retailer.

As for the patriot act, if you don’t like it, buy from a company in
Spain and don’t complain. There is a reason for that also. Go
figure! I’m sure you are not the only foreign business trying to use
Stuller, they all have to jump through the same hoops!

Arista Designs LLC

After working with many companies, nothing beats the ease of ordering
from Stuller and the fast shipping. Now that Stuller is offering a
lot of their formerly gold stock items in sterling, it gives me more

I order more from Stuller than any other company. Rio Grande just
takes too long - 7-15 days to ship, and the other companies have a
limited selection. For sheer range of products, Stuller is the best
and the quality is better than Rio on many of the sterling items,
esp. on sterling prongs and settings. If you can set up an account
and be willing to buy at least $5000 a year, it’s well worth it.


I can appreciate this post, and am happy to hear of Stuller’s
attention to the little guy, as I am one also. However I have to say
how frustrated I am in Stullers decision to only carry “Sterlium"
products, and not true Sterling Silver. I hate the stuff, find it
very frustrating to work with. I called Stuller about it and there
was no compromise, only, “well, this is a little different, but we
are sure you will come to love it, as it has all these other
wonderful features”, blah blah blah. I don’t want all those other
"wonderful” features, I want the old sterling silver. I’ve tried it,
again and again, and I just don’t like the way it handles. Does
anyone else have this problem?

So, in my case, this loyal Stuller fan has gone over to Rio Grande
where they still offer me the sterling silver that I want. Why can’t
we have a choice at Stuller anymore? Because I really do love
Stuller and would love to still buy from them, but I am not about to
pay shipping on two orders, so guess what? Rio gets my business, for
now. Are you listening, Stuller?

I have try to setup an account with Stuller! I live in Spain, in
order to do I had to sign up to w9 part of the patriot act Why
should I? 

Because it’s US law, Peter. That’s not just Stuller’s rule.

Stuller had to tighten up their rules for obtaining an account many
years ago because they were receiving too many complaints from their
customers about retail customers coming in with Stuller parts and
mountings wanting the retailer to put it together for them. Many
retailers in many industries (myself included) will not do business
with suppliers that sell directly to their retail customers. They had
to decide who they were going to put first, their long-term customers
or their short-term bottom line. I applaud Stuller for their loyalty
to their customers, including their attention to who can have an

I think there’s a lesson in Ski and Cathy’s post for all of us to
learn. A ton of findings companies have come and gone since Matt
Stuller started his business with a catering truck, but very few of
them have ever achieved anywhere near the success Stuller has. Why?
Because very few companies put the customer first in everything,
every time, without exception. For Matt Stuller it’s more than an old
saw. It’s a way of life - the customer really is always right. Always
has been, and always will be.

The next time a customer gives you a hard time, think about what Matt
Stuller and his staff do, put themselves in the customer’s shoes and
treat them the way they might like to be treated if the situation
was reversed. Then think of Ski and Cathy’s post and the long-term
big picture. Wouldn’t you rather find a review like that about your
business than get a one star Yelp review because you responded to
anger with anger?

Dave Phelps

I live in Spain, in order to do so I had to sign up to w9 part of
the patriot act Why should I? 

There is still a lot of confusion in America about this law (USA
Patriot Act)

Please read:

If it turns out that you are not a person required to comply, simply
explain that to Stuller.

As a US resident, business person in the art jewelry & metals
industry, and chairman and creative director of a non-profit ( tax
exempt) 501 © 3 programme that teaches metalsmithing,jewellery
making and preserves the dying arts of royal costume production
related to Mardi Gras to low or no income people ( as an alternative
to service industry employment because New Orleans has still not
economically recovered from Hurricane Katrina) we too must submit
references ( who we do business with),account sometimes
a D&B number or Jewelers Board of Trade rating, and in some
applications the businesses organizational chart of
employees/interns,etc. - All of it is far more than i
would like to give out under any circumstances - but if you want the
privilege of a net 30 account ( or whatever the terms may be relative
to a vendor) you have to prove your credit worthiness, or that you
aren’t just a hobbyist not entitled to buying at wholesale or that
you intend to resell the items at a flea market or crafts fair
undercutting the legitimate retailers in your area selling the same
inventory to the same target market(s)…so I understand you are in
Spain but i have also lived in Europe and Asia and had zero problems
dealing with Karl Fischer in Germany, and Rosenthal Supply,though
based in Miami Fl USA, they are hispanic and mail internationally-
and though Rosenthal is a lesser known company compared to some
larger, more well advertised vendors like Stuller, Rio Grande, Hoover
and Strong,etc. their services are personalised and they do
everything possible to develop and maintain customers. So expect that
whomever you deal with, considering what you are perhaps buying-
precious metals and gems - are not dollar store wholesale items and
any company in keeping with the laws regarding trade in luxury items
and wholesalers will ask for your personal and businesses
as well. What is your responsibility to put yourself at
ease regarding giving out the types of invasive jewelry
supply vendors and manufacturers request from new accounts,
particularly when dealing internationally, is to find out who has
access to that How are your credit card numbers stored,
and do any third party companies like file management firms, paper
systems consultants, etc. have access to enough complete information
that could be used without your knowledge- or theirs, to imitate you
or your business and purchase goods or services before it is caught?
Then, what systems are in place if your is compromised
somehow ( credit cards have an extra layer of protection built into
their servicing your account in most ? A Reliable and diligent
company’s customer service people will be able to answer those
questions without hesitating or having to find out (from another
employee) what checks and balances are in place as well as which
security and identity theft prevention features are in place…We all
have to give out sensitive we would prefer not to have to
do regardless of whether we pay in cash, C,O.D. or by credit card
when at least the first order is placed with a new and/or potential
supplier.Once a relationship is established though the new vendor
serves as a reference for your future potential growth, viability
proof or when seeking other than private capital, funding or loans.
Perhaps you should reconsider your outrage and realise where the
wholesaler is coming from- provided they can explain their due
diligence in protecting your sensitive I am not
defending Stuller- in fact I live in the same state and after
loosing everything i owned, my home, tools, equipment, etc. they
wouldn’t even send me a replacement catalogue ( although that
situation is in flux it seems at this time) when I was hearing that
they were providing other jewelers with tools, etc. so they could
recover and get back to work faster- I figured I was too small a fish
in their bayou…but it did not excuse their refusal to send a
catalogue! So each supplier is different, but all have the same
objective- to increase sales and broaden their markets…You can
elect to become part of their market or not…I prefer the smaller
companies with small advertising expenditures- Often they have larger
and more varied inventory ( like Rosenthal for instance: they sell
products that far exceed the standard grobet catalogue rebranded for
a particular label) and seek to develop personal relationships with
their clients by assigning an account manager to work with you
compared to other companies that leave the sales to whomever answers
a phone or email…It depends on what you are seeking and your
willingness to give a new supplier a chance…rer

I got some sheets that were packed with duct tape contacting the
edges of the metal, and it took a few minutes to fingernail it off,
and a few more later (frustratingly) to clean off what I missed the
first time, and even more time fiber-wheeling out pits that formed
when other specks I'd missed pressed into the metal at about 45

Have you considered cleaning the metal with solvent?

Al Balmer
Pine City, NY

Hi Peter,

Stuller is just doing their job as a responsible US business. All
companies in the US should be having new accounts sign off on the
Patriot Act documents, it’s an unavoidable requirement from the
Federal Government no matter where you live. It’s intended to help
prevent money laundering by providing that allows
verification that you’re who you say you are.The invoices are to
prove that you are actually in the jewelery business and not just an
individual trying to get stuff at wholesale prices. The bank info
does the same thing, helps prove that you are legitimate business
who can pay their bills. I for one am grateful for Stuller’s
stricter new account policies. It helps protect those of us in the
biz, you don’t want your customers to be able to buy from your
supplier do you? It’s better to compete only with other legitimate
jewelry businesses.

So don’t take it too personally Peter, it’s just good business


Ha ha, every time I post on the Orchid I get this response from
Stuller below.

a wrote: This email has violated the
SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION. and Quarantine entire message has been taken
on 7/12/2012 10:21:31 PM. 

At first the Dragon thought it was funny but after the third time it
got a bit old. So he told them to stop slandering him in no uncertain
terms. The Dragon love all sexes equally, day and night, but
preference is given to the beautiful female maidens he so regularly
rescues from evil castles and dark dungeons.

I don’t know what Stuller actually has to do with my posts, but I
still think they are a fine company to do business with.

I have a new post coming up in a few weeks on my Cannon Crossbow.

The Dragon is waiting!

If you (and everyone else) will just follow the link I provided, you
will learn that not every business, even in the US, has to comply
with this law.

As I understand it, Peter should not use a W9 form, since he doesn’t
reside in the US. Stuller should have other ways of verifying he’s a
reseller or manufacturer. W9 has nothing to do with the Patriot Act,

Al Balmer Pine City, NY

Rio Grande just takes too long - 7-15 days to ship 

Where on earth are you located? They ship the same day if the order
is in by 3:30 PM. It then takes UPS 4 days to deliver to me by ground
or 2 days by air. Overnight if I was desperate or a spendthrift. 15
days? Must be by boat! How would that be their fault? Rio ships the
day of the order. The rest is a function of the shipper, the means of
shipping you select, and the distance.

I’m not happy with UPS taking as long as they do, but Rio ships
within hours of receiving your order. How do you beat that?

Neil A.

Of all of the companies I have bought from - Rio Grande, Stuller,
Otto Frei, Contenti, Indian Jewelry Supply, FDJ On Time and more, I
keep coming back to Stuller and Contenti. Quickest delivery, and
Contenti has really good prices. Stuller has a huge range of
products to choose from. Rio and Indian Jewelry Supply can be slow,
and still waiting for my package from Otto Frei.

I do have a story about chasing hammers. My own chasing hammer,
which I use for stonesetting, is at least 100 years old, given to me
by the elderly daughter of a master repousse artist, and so
well-balanced, my students are always “borrowing” it, but I make
sure I get it back. I broke the slender handle twice, but was able
to re-expoy it together and refinish the handle. The old hammers
just feel so much better in your hands than the newer hammers. I
would say the majority of my silversmithing hammers are 25 to 140
years old. Some are rare hammers that I’ve never seen such as
tinsmithing hammers with very thin but wide handles that have
incredible flex. I have no idea exactly what they were used for, but
I collect them. I adapted a heavy boilermaker’s hammer into a
forging hammer and it works very well.

It’s worth collecting the old hammers for the handles just feel
better and often the heads are a harder steel. My anvil is from 1911
and so hard, it broken 2 refinishing tools when I tried to have it
refinished years ago. Still in heavy use and very hard to dent. I was
trained as asilversmith long ago, so I love to have the older stakes
and hammers whatever possible. Planishing can put me in a Zen-like
state, it’s that meditative. However, it’s jewelry that pays the