Left home early this morning to get past the Birmingham rush hour traffic and onto the M5 heading South to Dorset to visit Ian Mulliner near Wimborne. This trip is always a pleasant one as Mulliners is set amongst the winding lanes and thatched cottages of Dorset, one of the most delightful parts of the country.
Since the inception of his business, Ian has made customer service his raison d’être and this desire to assist customers looking for something special lead directly to my visit today.
More than a year ago, Ian was approached by a customer who wanted a K-80 based on the Monarch engraving pattern but with some individual custom work. There was much correspondence between Ian and myself and with the factory in Germany and it was decided that the best way to ensure all was exactly as wanted was to take the customer to the factory. The trip was arranged for September last year and I arranged to be at the factory when Ian and his customer arrived.
The customer wanted a very special piece of wood for the stock and had particular requirements for the type of figure and colour. The stock was to be made to custom dimensions, requiring a blank to be selected. It is very difficult to see the finished stock in the blank because the curve of the stock profile cannot be easily seen. Colour and figure are almost impossible to predict because the first coat of oil can change everything. This turned out to be the most difficult part of the order because such high grade blanks are always in short supply and wood taste is very individual. It quickly became clear that the customer had expected to be shown a much larger selection of blanks and was disappointed that only two or three came somewhere near what he was looking for. There was one blank that seemed to have potential and this was confirmed by Ralf Sommer, Krieghoff’s Master Stocker. The customer decided he would trust our judgement on this, albeit with some reservations. Ian did much to reassure and support him in this decision and so Ralf headed off to begin the work of heading up the blank whilst we met with the engraver to discuss the detail.
This for me was most interesting because it was clear that the customer had spend a lot of time in researching different engraving patterns and had very clear ideas on what he wanted. Some detail seemed to be so insignificant as to not be worth the additional cost. Nevertheless, as the discussions progressed it became clear that the end result would be something quite special.
Details agreed and noted down we headed back to the Schafterei to finalise the stock dimensions. Ralf is very experienced in transposing what the customer needs into wood and it was not too long before we were heading back to the Adler in Grimmelfingen for our evening meal.
The following day saw us back in the factory bright and early to see progress on the stock. Now some of the profile was completed the type of figure was a little easier to see but what would the colour be? Ralf showed, with a little water, how it would most likely look when finished but I know the customer was still unsure. It is always a great leap of faith to see a part finished stock in the white and believe it will turn out as you hope. To his great credit he took the decision to follow Ian’s advice and trust our stocker.
This week the finished gun was delivered to my premises in Wrexham. The engraving is a testament, not only to the skill of the engraver but also to the excellent taste of the customer. The fine detail he insisted on has produced something quite unique and very special…….and the stock? Magnificent!
My trip today was to hand the gun over to Ian who will then meet with his customer and confirm that all has been done as requested. It did not seem quite right to box it up and send it down on a carrier when Ian had spent so much time and effort in making sure the finished gun fulfilled his customer’s dream.
It is orders like these that really demonstrate the value of our partner dealers. They are the bridge that carries the customer’s wishes safely to completion. Without such partners it simply would not be possible. Well done Ian and thank you for your support and hard work always. All of us at Krieghoff wish your customer much enjoyment of his new K-80.
The pictures below show the end result but it is the detail that sets this gun apart.
If you are visiting Ian and need a bite to eat, take a look at The Old Inn just down the road.