- May 13, 2019 at 11:24 pm #3592874Justin BBPL Member
So i had a strange experience today and wanted to see if anyone else has had anything similar happen to them. I have been trying to call MLD about a custom order for a few days and could not get ahold of anyone so i sent out an email. I got a reply to the email and after 5-6 short answers got someone to call me. I don’t know about you but i like to talk to someone over the phone when i have questions especially when it comes to special order gear. I really felt that they did not want to talk to me, wanted to get me off the phone as fast as possible and wanted nothing to do with the order. I asked for a custom width quilt because i like it that way but got told that they are not made to wrap around you, our fabric wont go that big, you don’t need that ect. Why is there the offer to do custom work on the sight if they dont want to do custom work?? I felt like my business was not wanted and my questions where just dismissed, is that what we are dong to each other now days in the outdoor space. Seams with all the competition that one would want every loyal customer they could get.May 13, 2019 at 11:43 pm #3592877Lester MooreBPL Member
@satoriLocale: Olympic Peninsula, WA
On several occasions MLD has been short and to the point when answering email questions, but Ron has always been respectful and helpful in answering the questions. Phone support is very time consuming and costly for a business, as are special orders or custom work. I understand the drive to keep time on the phone to a minimum and use email when at all possible as it’s faster and takes less time to handle. And while custom orders may be offered, some customizations may be too difficult or impracticable to commit to – most companies have a set range of custom options that they know they can produce and stand behind.
A full wrap around quilt would require a vertical seam someplace as the max width of most fabrics is only 54 – 60″. Most all quilts are made from single pieces of fabric only. Unless MLD already has patterns for making a quilt with a seam, they would have to design it from scratch and create something that is untested by them.
Not trying to defend MLD – it’s always best to be polite – but I can understand where they are coming from.May 13, 2019 at 11:46 pm #3592880Jarred OBPL Member
Honestly it sounds like you weren’t aware of their history and current operations (It’s their busiest time of the year, they have more orders for products than they can handle in a reasonable time and are, also, notorious for giving short email responses). I wouldn’t expect a custom request at this time to be received well.
If you’re interested in a custom quilt there are companies that will do so for you. Timmermade, ULenchilada on Reddit, Nunatak after they open up ordering again, etc.May 14, 2019 at 1:12 am #3592892Tim MarshallBPL Member
If you need a bigger size in a synthetic quilt I know a guy, nothing custom, but many sizes available
-TimMay 14, 2019 at 1:22 am #3592894MinerBPL Member
I’ve always done my custom orders with MLD through email; normally custom tarp sizing or adding a feature to a pack. When they needed clarification on what I wanted when it was time to make it, they sent an email asking a few questions. Emails from RON were always short and to the point. No calls involved. No issues getting what I wanted, but I already had inquired about what was possible before trying to place my custom order. I normally try to avoid ordering something in late winter and spring because they usually are really busy. Only exception was when I lost my bivy sack on a PCT thru-hike in late April and Ron was very responsive about getting me a new one much faster than the normal wait time. So I only have good things to say about MLD.
As a long time quilt user (since 2008), I actually have found that I prefer a narrower quilt as I don’t want to have a lot of fabric under me; but I also don’t wrap my quilt under my sleeping pad, only part of my body.May 14, 2019 at 1:54 am #3592896matthew kModerator
I’ve always found
RobRon to be extremely direct and helpful but with firm boundaries. I’ve asked for things that he said no to but I understood why. My perception is that their willingness to customize has limits based on 1) what they think is a good idea and 2) not slowing down other work.May 14, 2019 at 2:23 am #3592899iagoBPL Member
@iagoLocale: Boston & Galicia, Spain
I actually prefer email communication, so everything is there in black and white. It avoids possible misunderstandings.May 14, 2019 at 12:32 pm #3592941Ron BellBPL Member
Hi Everyone. Always very sorry when anyone feels they did not get a good interaction with us. I am very sorry Justin. ———————We are a med/small company and I handle all the emails, calls, etc. I was off guest guiding an intro backpacking course with Andrew Skurka in WV totally off grid the last four days and am catching up on all the huge stack of emails/calls asap. Our phone message does note an email can get a faster response and our email response answers many common questions like custom work and notes the avg reply time frame. Like most other med/small gear companies our capacity for custom is fairly limited now – especially this time of year when so many have trips planned and we are working super hard to get those orders out ASAP. ————————- As a peek behind the curtain and for transperancy for this type business, custom work is quite expensive for a small/med shop (6 people+) vs a very small 1-2 person operation. Consider your car mechanic with all the shop overhead, equipment, payroll, taxes, insurance, etc – They charge about a $120+ per hour labor fee. Same type of thing at a gear shop. Communication about a custom order with multiple emails + calls + communicating the changes to the production team and it up to 20min/ $40 before the work even begins. Now add the time it take to make the custom item + the time lost not spent on higher production stock work and even a small custom tweak gets expensive. Then think about 10 of those small tweaks on 8 different products on a given day and you get the idea of the real cost. That was us 2 yrs ago. Make a mistake and switch two of those small tweaks on packs and it’s two full packs into the seconds bin and you build them again. This is why most all med gear companies do not do custom or limit it…and some no longer have public phone numbers at all! At the same time, note that on our one product SuperLight Bivy, it already has 3 colors, two zips, two hoods and four sizes. Same for the Quilts *also many sizes available.* That’s a lot of permutations going on already! Wishing everyone many great super adventure in the woods this Summer!May 15, 2019 at 2:28 am #3593050Fred RBPL Member
It’s bitter sweet to c mld zpacks many more go from small to so big that the customization go’s away zpacks used to make anything I could think up and yes it it was super unoradox or has no pattern I was able to pay extra for the time lost during the prep of the build and was told it was untested and that was the deal sounds like op wasn’t offered that but rather shunned I don’t to hear these things it’s a bummer 80% of my gear is either very niche or custom and or bothMay 15, 2019 at 5:42 am #3593063Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Since 2007 (when I would think MLD was small) to the present, I have always found Ron Bell and everyone else at the company very responsive to requests via email.May 15, 2019 at 6:57 am #3593064Mole JBPL Member
My partner has had 2 small businesses for 30 years.
She maintains that more often than not, that once beyond a certain sensible level, the greater number of questions/direct interaction a potential customer/client initiates about the services and products she offers, the less likelihood of them becoming a customer/client at all, OR very high odds of them becoming a PITA customer.
(Not aimed at anyone in particular- just thought it pertinent to the discussion, and a reminder to us all, not to be that person!).May 15, 2019 at 6:38 pm #3593124avi sitoBPL Member
+1 on @Bruce’s note, I can only attest to great service by Ron and MLD over multiple years and orders…May 16, 2019 at 5:34 pm #3593281Justin BBPL Member
Im glad that so many of you have had wonderful experiences with them and are so quick to dismiss mine. The down and dirty about it was the custom gear part. It all comes down to if you are going to offer it then you should do it, otherwise don’t offer it. Im old fashion, i like to talk things out and if you wont talk to me i will move on. In full discloser i ordered the bag so we will see if the work gets done, if not looks like im going to make it myself or find a company that will when the money is on the table.May 17, 2019 at 7:33 pm #3593433BRYON LBPL Member
I received a custom order from MLD about a month ago after multiple emails with Ron. His responses were almost all short and to the point except for a couple that he explained in greater detail why he recommended things a certain way. It wasn’t my first email interaction with him and I’ve come to expect it.
In my opinion, the offer to do custom work does not equal a guarantee to do any custom work. I don’t believe it is fair to expect MLD or any other small, cottage company to be able to meet any and all requests for customization that comes their way. It may very well be that what you want doesn’t match up well with the material he uses, the skill set of his staff, the design of quilt, etc. Additionally, with his customer base and amount of orders, he doesn’t have to work to maintain customers. The products speak for themselves.
I could be wrong, so my apologies in advance if so, but it appears you are new to this forum. My greatest sewing skill is putting patches on my bag; but there are some people here on BPL that do phenomenal work that blows my mind. In the future, you might consider putting your request out in the MYOG thread. You may find more success in responsiveness to your expectations and still receive an excellent product with an individual here on BPL.
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