When I started Craft Hardware my goal was to focus on the products, not on marketing. I wanted to aim for manageable growth that would allow excellent customer service and a sustainable work life balance. In 2020 I witnessed much stronger demand for my products than I expected, leading to supply chain issues and long periods with products out of stock. This was frustrating for everyone, especially my customers!
As you may know, many of the products sold in the shop are designed in-house, and some of our products are also manufactured or modified here in the shop in Augsburg. Product development is a big time constraint, but more so is the manufacturing labor. Our Fill Station CPBF is welded and assembled here from a complicated list of parts. The Tri-Clamp connectors on our pumps are welded here. The keg washer, sparge arm spreader plates, wall and table equipment mounts, Tri-Clamp heat shields, Corny Keg thermowells, and many other products require welding, sanding, polishing, or other modifications. But by far the largest time requirement in the workshop is for the line of in-house welded kettles.
While I truly enjoy working in the shop, it is a huge bottleneck in the sales pipeline. Rather than simply raising prices, I would rather continue to offer great value products that help make homebrewing accessible to a wider audience.
That’s why I have been working with my most trusted manufacturers to supply some of the unique items developed by Craft Hardware that are unavailable anywhere else. Quality remains a top priority for me, and it has taken some time to get things just right, but I am happy to say I am now in a much better position to meet the supply challenges in 2021. One of the biggest changes in the product portfolio relates to our Tri-Clamp kettles.
The new Craft Hardware kettles
Starting with the next batch of 38L and 57L kettles in late February 2021 and with the 83L kettles soon thereafter, the Tri-Clamp ferrules will be welded by a third party manufacturer. I am very satisfied with the quality and consistency of the welding. This makes it possible to maintain fast delivery times and scale up to meet demand while continuing to offer the high quality and excellent customer service that my customers are accustomed to.
I am also revising the kettle line to simplify the purchase decision and make the kettles more universal. The 2/0 and 3/0 kettles will no longer be available. This enhances the modular building block concept of our systems and ensures your hardware investment will remain more useful to you in the long run. You can read about the new kettle range in our kettle purchasing guide.
Furthermore all of our kettles will now have the handles front and back, allowing the kettles to be placed closer together, reducing the overall footprint of the system.
Finally, due to time and capacity constraints, I will (for now) not offer custom welded kettles. Once I have caught up with the growing pains and am able to expand my in-house production, I would like to make this available again. It is hard to say when. Sorry for any inconvenience. I hope that most customers can find what they need in our standard kettle range.
Where would Craft Hardware be without all its customers? As always, please send me your feedback. My customer’s thoughts, opinions, and requests are important to me and help drive improvements in the service and product offering. Thank you for helping make Craft Hardware a success!
And as always, happy homebrewing. Cheers!