Heinnie Haynes Visit
- By John Fenna
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- Last updated: 13/03/2017
Of course knives are not the whole story of Heinnie: OK they retail knives from something in the order of 158 different makers, with thousands of different models to choose from, but they also retail a whole world of other top quality practical and tactical equipment selected from makers around the world. If you are after quality outdoor gear from axes to watches, binos to tents, a stove that burns wood and will charge your phone at the same time (I kid you not!), Dayglo paracord, a technical fleece jacket, a torch, a pen, a whistle GPS, a green and orange machete, a shovel etc. etc., plus a tough bag to carry it all in, then Heinnie is the place to start looking!
With about 3,600 sq ft of their 7,000 sq ft premises devoted to racks and racks of stock (staff are complaining they are running out of space), Heinnie is no small business, but back in 1996 when Bruce Bollington set up the company, it operated out of the back room of a terrace house in Cardiff and sold nothing but pocket multi-tools!
Now Heinnie has a staff of 15, a customer base that spans the world, more retail lines than you can shake a stick at, acts as a UK distributor for more gear, yet retains the happy, friendly and very efficient feel of a business built on a passion.
Bruce chooses his stock carefully, looking for top quality kit and regularly flies off around the globe to source new, innovative and reliable outdoor equipment of all sorts. Bruce listens to his customers too, following up their suggestions of items to stock.
Before I visited the Heinnie headquarters I had seen their advertisements and seen their stands at trade shows, but nothing prepared me for the experience seeing the heart of the business.
Tucked away, and somewhat difficult to find, on an industrial estate by Barry Docks in South Wales (in the past they have guided visitors in from the M4 by talking them through each junction on a mobile phone), Heinnie is an unassuming looking unit, and until I saw the big red “H” logo I was not sure I was in the right place. As I passed through the door into the showroom I knew I was in the right place, as my breath was taken away by the sight of hundreds of well-displayed knives, swords, torches, jacket, bags – you name it - with prices ranging from a few pounds to a few thousand pounds. The last time I felt like that I was a seven year old in Hamleys toyshop in London just before Christmas!
Bruce allowed me to closely examine some of the more eye-catching items in detail before whisking me away behind the scenes to see how it all works. On seeing the serried ranks of stock shelving, I had the toy shop feeling all over again.
Masters of Mail Order and Internet Retailing
Most of the business is done by mail order and their website – though visitors are welcome – and the system is smooth and efficient with orders arriving in the office being sent up to the stock area to be “picked” before being passed down to dispatch to be checked and sent off to the customer. Orders received before 3.30pm can be off to the client the same day, and Bruce is very proud of the Heinnie reputation for excellent customer service.
And the business does not stop there! All the product photography and catalogue design is done in-house; a new piece of photographic kit will even allow knives to be photographed rotating, allowing website customers to see the product “in the round” in 3D before deciding on which model to buy – this is a brilliant idea.
During my visit I was impressed by many aspects of the Heinnie Haynes’ operation, from the friendly efficiency of all the staff, Bruce’s in-depth knowledge, not only of his product range (and where to find each item in the crowded stock shelves – he is obviously a “hands-on” boss) through to the care with which customers to the showroom are made welcome and offered well-informed help to ensure they leave with the right product for their needs.
And There’s More To Come…
The product range itself keeps growing and much of it is selected by Bruce, based on how well it appeals to him personally and how well it will appeal to his loyal customers: He understands how important customer loyalty is and how such loyalty depends on not only having excellent stock, but excellent service as well. At least one customer has ended up working for Heinnie!
As to product selection, it would appear that we may be seeing more Heinnie Haynes’ own branded knives, designed and made in collaboration with top knife-makers. We look forward to reviewing these in the near future.
Heinnie customers range from serious collectors of the finest cutlery around to anyone needing a quality knife for everyday use, to hunters and bushcrafters, craftsmen and office workers, for those wanting solid outdoor clothing and equipment to those who want the latest in technological brilliance in torches and tools. Although catering for those who want top notch ‘tactical’ equipment, Heinnie can also supply more ‘traditional’ style kit, for those on a limited budget to those with a greater budget than most of us can dream of; Heinnie has items in its range to suit almost everyone’s needs – from socks to swords.
If you would like to visit, the showroom is open Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 4pm. Telephone first to confirm your visit. If you have trouble finding them, the staff are well used to giving directions in detail on the phone!
Of course, you can always visit the website www.heinnie.com or contact them on tel. 033 0300 0400 and they can also to be found on Twitter and Facebook. Office hours are Monday-Friday 9am-5.30pm and Saturday from 9am-1pm. GM