Of Friends and Competitors

I feel very blessed to count many of the world’s leading plaiters among my friends and acquaintances. I’ve found friendship even among those who are primarily nylon plaiters.

I would count guys like Ron Allen and Joe Driver (who’s about to come out of “retirement”) as good friends. Though I don’t communicate with them as much as Joe or Ron, I also have a good relationship with Steve Huntress and Steve Koliski. I’ve known Steve Koliski since the earliest days of my online whip selling career.  I spoke with Greg DeSaye several years ago and he’s a nice guy as well. Ron Allen, Steve Koliski, and myself recently got together in Florida at the Martin County Fair and had a grand time.

Just last week, I made contact with a cow whip plaiter named K.J. Smith whom I discovered living less than an hour from me. Like myself,  K.J. is transplanted Florida Cracker. We had a great chat on the phone and I discovered that even when we both lived in Florida, we once lived just as close together as we do now. (Sometimes those chats with other plaiters don’t go that well, but I’ll save that story for another time.)

Sure, in the greater scheme of things, we are all competing for busines, but there’s plenty of business out there. So why should we be antagonistic toward each other? What lots of people may not know is that it is not all that unusual for us to refer customers  to one another when the waiting lists get too long, or if we know the other guy has something more in line with what the customer is needing.

At one time or another, I’ve referred work to each of the other well known nylon plaiters out there. Back when my waiting list was 7+ months, I referred lots of snakewhip orders to D.T. King. At that same time, Joe Driver and Steve Koliski got several referrals as well.  Throughout the years, most of the other nylon plaiters have returned the favor.

If someone ever calls me and brings up one of the other well known nylon plaiters wanting my opinion of them or their work, do you know what they hear from me?  Every positive thing I can say, that’s what. When I’m given the opportunity to speak of a fellow nylon plaiter or his work, I try to build them up as best I can. Why shouldn’t I? It would be hypocritical for me to act friendly toward these guys to their face, and then trash them to a customer just to bolster my own ego.


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