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Stuller = Microsoft


#1
 They are becoming the "Microsoft" of the jewelry business.
Does this make anyone else nervous? 

It does me, I’m sure they have put many small findings manf. out
of biz. We actually use Keystone findings for the bulk of our
head purchases, they have heavier settings and are a little less
money. I don’t like the fact that Stuller is now selling tools.
They are becoming like Walmart and are really hurting the little
guys. They will no doubt venture into the goldsmiths area soon
and try to do custom work for the entire industry.

Mark P.


#2

Hi, Had to comment on this. There are a lot of ways one could
look at this enigma. We complain if the prices of findings are
too high or if they’re too heavy or too light. Bottom line is the
marketplace. competition keeps everthing in line. We never
complained about the low prices of computers that we now see.
Thats because of the laws of competition. Same for findings; the
more you produce the cheaper they become. Know how you can force
Stuller to bend? Make your own findings. Then figure out how much
labor you have in the piece and try to compete on that basis!
NEVER HAPPEN! As for taking over our role as the artisan, that
will never happen either. Stuller and Rio Grande and all who are
in this to make a buck would never hire that many people to do
what we do.So relaxe and make the next piece knowing that your
position in life as an artist is as secure as it was before
Stuller came on the scene. Just do it better and cheaper than the
next guy if that is what really bothers you. For myself I wish
there were 50 Stullers and Rio Grand’s. That would tell the world
that we as a group are in demand…In the meantime anyone want
to buy a retriculated and enameled 22kt broach, embellished with
3 colors of gold and studded with 35 pelons of granulation.
Center is hand carved tourmaline encrusted with 24 kt green gold
insignia! Surrounded by 18 cts. melee channel set complementing
enameled anthromorphic forms depicting a scene out of Dante’s
inferno. Think Stuller could put that in their catalogue at a
dozen price? So don’t worry. @martdoc


#3

Matt Stuller started his business in the back of his fathers
dental office. In spite of his financial success is a generious
down to earth kid (young enough to be my son). When Japan
offerred him the world For Stuller Settings he turned them down.
The American Dream–with out help. Hard work and perserverance =
sucess.

Annette Aucoin


#4

Dear Mark,

Ah, its a love-hate relationship… Stuller has one of the
fastest, most efficient delivery systems in the business. They
also will sell the Foredom power graver handpiece separately
from the whole system (check the archives for earlier threads on
engraving hand pieces). They make an effort to carry a broader
range of hand tools than many other suppliers do. They’ve
acquired the Elite Bur manufacturers so as to (for the first
time) provide an alternate to the somewhat sloppy, inconsistent
high-speed burs made by Spearhead manufacturing (you know, the
ones in the mahogany boxes that Gesswein and Rio sells). These
Elite burs are fairly consistent,I.e., the burs run very,very
true. These burs are available in shapes that no one else
manufactures and all of the shapes at a competitive price. I
advise everyone who sets stones with HHS burs to check them out.
In short, Stuller has brought some exciting things to the
supply end of our trade.

However, Stuller’s prices on many of their tool items is higher
than the more familiar supply houses. As Stuller has become a
bigger and bigger player in the findings business, I have
noticed they have been systematically raising the prices on many
of their findings. This has occurred during a decline in
precious metal prices. I would find it hard to believe that
manufacturing or labor costs would contribute to the increase as
"economy-of-scale" and relatively flat wage growth during the
same period would make it easier for Stuller to keep prices
down. The “Microsoft” model may be appropriate in this case. I
certainly miss being able to go down to one of my local
Jobber/Suppliers to pick up something that was needed right
away. My local Jobber/Suppliers have dwindled down to a
handful, and, I’m sure, Stuller has had a hand in causing this
situation. I still prefer to buy my stones locally, as it is
easier for me to avoid the stones that I don’t want to end up
with ( in fairness, Stuller does try very hard to keep up the
consistency of their stones). The prices that Stuller gets for
its stones are higher than what I pay for locally in many cases,
so as far as stones go, I think Stuller has had less of an
impact upon smaller dealers.20 Stuller is very reasonable and
encouraging in getting craftspersons to become more commercial.
They provide ad materials and offer a leasing option that no one
else I know of can equal. Stuller has been very fair to me when
a package arrived tampered with and minus the diamonds I
ordered. I’m not sure any other supplier I deal with would have
been willing to take my word that the stones were missing from
the package. Stuller’s reputation for quick delivery and broad
product choices have forced others in the industry to really
improve their service and selection. For this alone, I think,
we must all recognize Stuller’s influence. Like I said before,
its a love-hate relationship… Eben


#5

Give stuller a break. Everyone was soooo happy when they came
on the scene with their sudden service. Now you want to kick
them for giving us what we wanted. Sudden service means we don’t
have to inventory much. Large selection means we don’t have to
keep track of piles of catalogs. Plenty of mountings available
and new ones coming out all the time. Both set, unset and/or
semi set. Just what the hell do you people want? Everything
usually available overnight. Let them spend their money to keep
all that gold on hand. I have other places to spend my money
than let it sit in inventory. We jewelers that have been around
since their inception were happy to see someone who wanted to
supply us with fast friendly service and selection. We made
them who they are today and I,for one, am not interested in
seeing them go away. Besides, you can’t compare Stuller w/
Microsoft in the first place. There are plenty of other findings
houses still doing business out there that would be happy to
oblige with overnight service if you only ask them to. Go find
another software supplier for an operating system as good and
easy and wide spread as windows. You can stop using Stuller
today and never be any worse off. A larger catalog collection,
maybe, but who doesn’t have a lot of catalogs?

Want another source? Try National Findings in Miami, Fla. I
have been doing biz with them for the past 25 years (pre
Stuller). Not only are they happy to answer questions, but they
get my order out quick (2nd day UPS is standard unless I request
overnight), and appreciate my business. Plus I find some of
their findings are a little less $. The findings catalog isn’t
a flashy color one, and prices aren’t published. I guess they
figure one should have some idea of what he/she intends to
charge. A separate price schedule used to be available for the
not-so-everyday things such as charms, mountings and chains. If
not, call them on their 800#. Plus Stuller doesn’t carry
everything. For one, National carries a much better quality
joint and clasp selection for pins. And good basic clasp findings
for custom work, plus other things Stuller doesn’t have.

Neither does Rio Grande carry everything (whom I believe is
overpriced and is hard to do biz with because of their min.
quantity packaging policy). Not to mention it takes half of
forever to get something from them. By the time I get my order,
I’m not sure what I ordered anymore. Plenty of places to find
what you want. Just take the time and make the effort to look
around. So, if you don’t like Stuller, simple, don’t support
them.

Hello, Ann. Think I’ve just been trolled?


#6

Hi,

My original comment on Stuller being like Microsoft was more of
a joke than a warning. I am sure that if Matt Stuller would read
the responses it would warm his heart like a craw-daddy in chili
sauce. I have used Stuller for 11 years and am always amazed by
their service. I would recommend Keystone findings to anyone who
buys quantities of findings. I stock about 500 platinum heads
and have found them to be heavier, cheaper and better than other
suppliers, including Stuller. I have been unable to get the pool
discounts from Stuller that Hoover and Strong will give you. I
had Hoover send me a letter spelling out the discount, I faxed it
to Stuller and asked them to offer a program similar to it and
they wouldn’t, (I suppose they don’t need to). I too order most
stones from other suppliers because they are better color and
cheaper. I think Stullers diamonds are really overpriced, they
charge $975.00 p/ct for baguettes that I buy for $675.00 p/ct.
But at 4:45 in the afternoon when you realize that you in fact DO
NOT have that tall 6 prong white gold head that you thought you
had for that job that is due at noon tomorrow, there is only one
number to call 1-800-877-7777.

Don’t you guys think that many of Stullers mountings look like
they were designed by some CAD keytappin’ engineer, rather than a
stonsettin’ goldsmith?

Mark P.


#7

Dear Aufin@aol.com , You sound like a stuller employee! I do
use them occasionally–when a client wants a design by them seen
in catalog, I’ll order it . I would never use them for material
(wire ,sheet,bezel etc.) because you have to buy whatever they
send you-- right or wrong. (see their “no returns” policy) stones
are a real problem. the shop I used to work at had to order two
or three to be sure to get one that worked.(razor edge
girdles,inconsistant size, very thin opals etc.) they don’t even
know there is a difference between a triangle cut and a trillion.
as far as tools go , any tool they sell can be purchased
elsewhere for less.—enough whining! anyone who wants
elaboration or clairification on above problems (or others)
contact me privately. (almost) no stuller for me, MTR


#8
   Don't you guys think that many of Stullers mountings look
like they were designed by some CAD keytappin' engineer, rather
than a stonsettin' goldsmith? 

If it’s anything that in the catalog has their little “metal
molds” label, then it WAS designed on a CAD station, and CAM
milled. The mold, that is, that they then use to inject plastic
(not wax) lost wax casting models. Some of them do obviously
show their origins, in the different way the molds are shaped
from the way a handmade model to then be rubber molded would
look. Things like undergalleries who’s inner side is flat and
flush with the innder side of the also flat prong, which is then
engraved with the size stone the head is intended for. Obvious
CAD/CAM work. On the other hand, I can’t say I mind that.
They may be CAD/CAM, but they are clean castings, well finished,
properly symmetrical and not all bent up or otherwise hard to use
without extensive modification or fixing. And some of their
mountings (I’m thinking of the scroll side heads) are really
pretty slick work for a CAD station, and a nice addition to the
normally available line of traditional settings. As a goldsmith,
I’d rather have to make the needed modifications to my setting
techniques to get these set well than to have to deal with poorly
designed and out of shape and unsymmetrical settings that I’ve
now and then seen…

Just my two cents.

Peter Rowe


#9

I feel the need to put in a plug for Stuller, even though, at
first, I did feel like they were stepping out of bounds with the
tool catalog. I am what they probably consider a very small
account, but, about a week before last Christmas I called them at
8:30 at night because I had forgotten to order something I needed
for the next day. Although they said it was to late to get the
order out, Fed Ex arrived bright and early the next morning with
a package from Stuller! Service like that is not to be taken
lightly. It helps to keep us small guys in business and gives us
a competitive edge. I can’t tell you how many looks of surprise I
get each day when I tell the customer “That will be here in the
morning.” For a small store that cannot afford to maintain a
large inventory of finished goods, they are invaluable.

As far as their diamonds, stones and tools, I find their prices
are higher than any other suppliers I use, so I wouldn’t say they
are hurting the small suppliers, but it is nice to know that if I
really need it and am willing to pay the extra, I can get
something by the next morning.

Just my $.02 worth.

Sharon Z.