A High Watermark in Customer Service


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RoyRapoport
January 15, 2003, 07:04 PM
John Jardine has spoiled me for life.

Background:
I have a friend who, due to being introduced to shotguns from the wrong end at an early age, is in a wheelchair. One of the problems he has is that his grip strength in his left hand is pretty low. In preparation for a fairly intensive 4-day handgun class at the end of January he purchased a Kimber Pro Carry II and found that he was having problems racking the slide using the standard hold for a righty. We thought may be we could somehow add some sort of T-bar to the back of the slide so when his hand slipped toward the rear of the slide it would press against the bar instead of slipping off the gun. Knowing that this sort of custom thing can take a while, we figured the chances of getting something done in this short of a time period (3-4 weeks) were low, but what the heck. Given that I've heard good things of John Jardine (of Valtro fame) and he's local, we gave him a call. This is the timeline of what happened:

12/31/2002 (New Year's Eve): I call John. We start talking and talk for about an hour. He expresses enthusiasm for the project, though he's concerned he may not be able to get to it in time, as he's preparing for the SHOT show and has some backed up work. He brainstorms some ideas and we agree to meet at a local range on Friday so we can discuss this in person with Mike present.

1/3/2003 (+3 days from beginning): We meet John at the range and talk for about an hour about possibilities. He comes up with the idea of replacing the stock sight (which he says occasionally breaks because it's thin at a certain point) with a new sight machined with the T-bar. This will result in no modification of the gun itself. He is infinitely patient. He suggests giving him about two weeks and calling him back. We do not discuss what the cost of the sight will be.

1/7/2003 (+7 days): John calls Mike and lets him know he finished making the sight; he'd like us to come by and see what we think.

1/8/2003 (+8 days): We come to John's. John is gracious enough to allow us to come after business hours and we spend about two hours at his place talking about the gun and his impressions of it. This is despite the fact we're supposed to go meet up with Mike's girlfriend -- as we joked about in the car, the problem with John talking about 1911s is that you don't *WANT* to stop him from talking. He's absolutely fascinating to talk to. John has, by the way, finished the sight (though not bead-blasted it yet, so it's a bit shiny). It's beautiful (more below). When Mike asks him about price, John tells him that he can't afford to pay what the sight actually cost to make -- turns out John was working on it most of the weekend. Gotta be difficult to be a perfectionist. End result: The sight is free. Meanwhile, Mike's trying to get John to tell him what else he'd recommend to have done to the gun, but John fairly strongly suggests that he go to the class first, and there is no need to spend a whole bunch of money on it. In his words, "I'm not doing this so I can reach into your pocket." Finally, Mike persuades him to do the standard reliability work (tuning the trigger and extractor, polishing, etc, and removing a point on the gun that was rubbing Mike's palm to bleeding) and replacing the safety with a low-slung safety because Mike has problems keeping his thumbs on the safety while shooting. We leave John's on Wednesday, at about 9pm.

1/10/2003 (+10 days): John calls Mike and lets him know he's finished.

I picked up the gun today. Here are some pictures of the sight:
http://www.inorganic.org/~rsr/kimber/kimber_front.jpg
http://www.inorganic.org/~rsr/kimber/kimber_rear.jpg
http://www.inorganic.org/~rsr/kimber/kimber_side.jpg

John charged us an extremely reasonable rate for the reliability work and the safety (and its fitting) and, as I mentioned, did not charge us for the sight. Throughout this process he was always incredibly patient with our questions, thorough in his explanations of his decisions and preferences, and almost violently opposed to doing more work for us than he thought was necessary :). We got a custom-made part (and some more work) ten days after starting to talk about it. This is, in my opinion, a perfect customer service experience. I cannot rave enough about John, the quality of his work, and his treatment of us, his customers. There is not a single thing I can point to as the smallest blemish on this experience.

Wow.

-roy

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Greg L
January 15, 2003, 07:26 PM
Nice to hear that the good guys are still out there and in business. Thanks for the story.

Greg

Ed Brunner
January 15, 2003, 07:27 PM
I have heard nothing but good about John and his Valtro. If I could afford it I would have one.

Peetmoss
January 15, 2003, 07:46 PM
Looks like some real nice work. He also sounds like a real nice guy. I would do business with him based on your expierance if I had a 1911 or wanted one right now.

alan
January 15, 2003, 07:49 PM
Re what was described, the above sounds like something of an understatement, quite an understatement.

4v50 Gary
January 15, 2003, 09:50 PM
Let me see if there's some sort of magazine or newsletter for Access Coordinators. What Mike did deserves recognition beyond the firearms community.:cool:

Standing Wolf
January 15, 2003, 10:17 PM
Impressive!

Don Gwinn
January 15, 2003, 10:44 PM
That's beautiful machine work, too.

Sven
January 15, 2003, 11:20 PM
I feel privileged to have seen that work first hand and I couldn't believe that the part had been executed so cleanly - it looked like a SKU out of Brownells.

John showed how the slide could be racked in various ways, corresponding to the needs of RoyRapoport's friend.

-

I asked John how he did it, and he was so (characteristicly) straightforward and forthright, 'oh, I just took some barstock...' it sort of blew me away that he could create something so perfect for the task at hand.

I am a Jardine customer for life.

John is so dedicated to his craft that it actually inspires me to strive to learn how to better shoot the Valtro.

http://www.imageseek.com/valtro/sven/trigger_left_sm.jpg

http://www.imageseek.com/valtro/sven/valtro_360x270.jpg

http://www.imageseek.com/valtro/sven/crown_sm.jpg

-Sven

-

Links:

Official Valto Website (http://www.ValtroUSA.com)
Two-Tone Valtro (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=22&highlight=valtro) THR thread
Valtro Pictures (http://www.imageseek.com/valtro)- updated just now with high-res images

JohnBT
January 15, 2003, 11:28 PM
www.nrahq.org/compete/disabled.asp

I bet the NRA Disabled Shooting Services would like to know about it, too.

I'd bet Mr. Jardine wouldn't want the publicity, but this is bigger than just him.

We have two occupational therapists and a computer engineer in the office who are always dreaming up modifications and the entire field needs more publicity in order to let people see how problems can be solved.

John

blades67
January 15, 2003, 11:55 PM
That's great customer service. Sounds like he went to the same customer service class the Mike Dillon did.:cool:

CGofMP
January 16, 2003, 12:21 AM
Have known John for well over a year now and this does not surprise me a bit.

John takes extreme pride (rightly so) in his work and he is an absolute STICKLER for details and for making sure what leaves his shop is as close to perfection as possible.

I have seen work he has done that is not just "Valtro" related but truely complete custom stuff. I'll save the details for when I get the Jardines Custom site online, but he does things you would not believe that truly make a 1911 CUSTOM FIT. He is a real perfectionist with the Valtros that he sends out too...

Some "craftsmen" are pleased nailing together orange crates for a living ... others restore 100k antiqe heirlooms...

But I digress...

John has always seemed to me to be interested in others and this thread only reaffirms what I thought I already knew of the guy.

Tis neat to be a tiny part of it.

Special thanks to Roy for posting this and for giving me permission to include it in a 'testimonials' section I have planned for the Jardine's Custom website.

Charles

http://www.valtrousa.com/adpostingimage.jpg

laynlow
January 16, 2003, 12:46 AM
Great story and even better pistol-smithing.

Thanks for sharing.

jsalcedo
January 16, 2003, 01:13 AM
That is awesome. My 10 year old nephew could use one.

He needs to get that thing to the patent office and quick!

Blackhawk
January 16, 2003, 01:19 AM
Great story, Roy! :neener:

Sven
January 29, 2003, 11:40 PM
For another example of Mr. Jardine's wonderful work, check out my thread here on the High Road:

Gunsmithing work by John Jardine - Valtro Sight Modification

http://www.imageseek.com/valtro/sven/_sights_rear.jpg (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=5458)

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