Posted by Richard on February 22, 2016
It’s 2008 and we were still working out of three garages and mine and Kerri’s dining room. Ryan was manufacturing, I was finishing and Kerri was holding down customer service and most of the shipping . That afternoon I came into the office and Kerri was sitting at her desk crying. Several things went through my mind before I could ask her what was wrong, none of them good. Her answer wasn’t anything I could’ve expected. She said, “I made a man cry.”
She was quiet a moment more, then she said, “He was ordering a Shrike for his son who is deploying and at the end of the conversation he said ‘bye’. Then I said, ‘God bless your son’. Then he started crying and then I started crying.’”
This is how I first heard the story that changed our perspective of what we do at RMJ and the impact that our products can have in others’ lives.
Kerri went on to tell me that this gentleman had called to order two Shrikes before his son’s deployment and was a previous customer who had ordered a tomahawk from us before. Kerri asked him why he needed another tomahawk and was told that his son had left his first one with the soldier that replaced him when he rotated home. Sometime during their conversation the gentleman said to Kerri, “You really don’t know how important what you are doing is.” She responded, “Well, we think we do. Every now and then people call or email us about how well the tomahawks are performing for them.”
He responded, “No. You really don’t know.”
“You see, when my son was last deployed, he and his team were pinned down in a concrete building by heavy enemy fire for three days. My son was able to use his Shrike to chop a hole in the back wall of the building and he and his team were able to get out safely. He is not going back without one of your tomahawks.”
That day we learned that someone attributed what we did with the survival of his son. That day we began to understand that there were people who were placing confidence in our tools during life and death situations. That day our paradigm shifted and our work became more that a job we loved. It became our avocation. It became real to us the impact that Ryan’s designs and products were making to our warfighters and their families. We have developed lots of close relationships with users of our tools and some of their families. The stories that we have been told have added a depth of passion to our work and a seriousness to our desire to produce the best tomahawks with the best designs in the world. Because each day, when the tomahawks ship, we never know which one will be the next that has a story.