Inside The Kydex Holster Revolution, With Jake Wilson, FDO industries

About This Episode

In today’s episode of Tactical Business, host Wade Skalsky sits down with Jake Wilson from FDO industries, an expert in concealed carry holsters. They understand the importance of a reliable holster for your safety and offer a 100-year warranty on all their holsters. FDO Industries’ designs prioritize comfort, function, and quality, pushing the boundaries of innovation. Tune in to learn from Jake and discover the best holsters for protecting yourself and your loved ones.

Insights In This Episode

  • Balancing efficiency and innovation is a constant challenge in improving production processes.
  • They focus on developing light-bearing holsters to cater to the increasing demand for guns with attached lights.
  • The company emphasizes the importance of hands-on testing, particularly for new holster styles. While existing styles have already been confirmed to work, new designs require thorough testing to ensure they meet the company’s standards.
  • Material for the “plus one” holster underwent stress tests and proved durable.
  • Streamlight lights are popular due to reasonable prices and decent quality.

About Tactical Business

Tactical Business is the weekly business show for the firearms industry. The podcast features in-depth interviews with the entrepreneurs, professionals and technologists who are enabling the next generation of firearms businesses to innovate and grow.

Episode Transcript

Wade: Welcome to the Tactical Business Show. I’m your host, Virginia Beach based firearms entrepreneur and copywriter Wade Skalsky. Each episode will be exploring what it takes to thrive as a business owner in the firearms industry. We’ll speak with successful firearms industry entrepreneurs about their experiences building their companies, leaders and legislators who are shaping the industry, and tech executives whose innovations will reshape the future of the firearms industry. Let’s get after it.

Wade: Welcome to the Tactical Business Podcast. I am your host, Wade Skalsky, and today we are talking with Jake Wilson from FDU industries. Jake, how are you doing, my friend? I’m good.

Jake: How about yourself?

Wade: I’m doing good. First, I have to disclose that I am not only the president, I am the client. Oh, no, I’m not the president. You are the president. But I am also a client. So I have one of your holsters for my concealed carry that I’m very happy with it. So I have to make that disclosure. So one of the channel that you have such an interesting story about your company on a lot of different levels, but why don’t we talk about how you got into the firearms industry? Have you been dealing with guns your whole life? Were you in the service? That type of thing. And we’ll start with there.

Jake: Yeah, for sure. So yeah, we started in February 2016 and I didn’t serve or anything, but I grew up in the country with guns my entire life, hunting, etc. and that’s really my first foray with them. A lot of deer hunting and stuff like that, pheasant, etc. I still remember the first time being a little kid and shooting some gun with a scope on it. You know, maybe I didn’t have scope. It’s shotgun to close popped me in the eye. You’ve never forget that. And so yeah, I just grew up around him. Always had him and stuff. And my business partner and business partner and I, Scott, we were actually working together at a previous business. We were in the restaurant industry, so running a restaurant and didn’t have quite the opportunities that they sort of advertised. And we kind of realizing that. And because we’re always trying to make improvements or different things like that, and they were very rigid with what they were doing, unfortunately. And so I ended up quitting. We both did our own thing for about a year or so there. And then he got Ahold of me and was like, hey, I’ve been making these holsters on the side. And I think this can be this should be a full blown business here, but obviously I can’t do it alone. So you want to go in on this? We’ll get a building and do the make it official and everything. And so yeah, we started that February 2016. Our original holster we made was is there’s a kydex front with a leather back on it. And so that’s what we had started with and just went from there.

Jake: And right now we do all kydex holsters. And he grew up with guns as well. And so very familiar with the industry and stuff. But we jumped into it with the idea of really focusing on the manufacturing side of things, especially with Kydex holsters. Weird. I describe it at the small level. It’s almost like a cottage industry where you can the plenty of guys who do it, you know, on the side out of their garage, right? And you can make some nice extra money doing that. And the barrier to entry is fairly small doing it that way, and especially with the way things were back in 2016, and there’s been a lot of different advancements in the way it’s done. But back in 2016 when we started way smaller, almost cottage industry, but then when you want to make the jump up to doing more volume and stuff, that’s when you have to take some bigger steps. And so we spent a lot of time doing all the stuff by hand. I was done initially hand cutting everything, these big foam presses we had. And as we’re doing it, we know what the final product looks like. We both carried, and so we knew what we liked or what we didn’t like, how we liked to carry, how we didn’t, etc. and we’re getting good customer feedback on stuff. But ultimately it was okay. We see where the bottlenecks are. It’s gotten better now, but a lot of Ulster companies in the Kydex realm would have pretty long lead times like four, six, eight, ten, 12 weeks when they got really busy.

Jake: And that struck us as ridiculous. Like, this isn’t a custom yacht you’re building for somebody. It’s a Ulster. It’s there’s more to it than meets the eye. But it’s still fairly simple ultimately. Right. Like, why does it take so long? And of course, as we’re doing it ourselves and we see the different processes and all, we cool them. This is why we put them in this foam press. It keeps the heat in. It takes 30 minutes to cool them and then we’re hand cutting it. I hand cut it a little differently than you hand cut. And then we hire somebody and we teach them and they hand cut it a little differently. And so it’s both time consuming and inconsistent. And so we spent a lot of time really focusing on, okay, let’s not approach this strictly from the perspective of, yeah, we have guns we carried, we like guns. Let’s instead manufacture. And that was a different a little bit different mode of thinking. Neither of us are engineers or anything like that. But in the restaurant industry we were in and and the restaurants we ran were they had done a very good job of finding the best way to do something and standardizing it. So we took some stuff from that and ran with it. And yeah, really focused on getting we thought, hey, we should be at the point where regardless of how many orders are pouring in, I should just take just 2 to 3 days to get an order and make a Ulster not even carry stock, make it and ship it out.

Wade: Yeah, well, I love your story because when the firearms industry, there are so many different entry points because I didn’t serve either. And but I did come from a hunting culture in North Dakota. And so it’s such a big tent that it can encompass a lot of different people. And when you do that, you have the opportunity for a lot of innovation, because the more narrow you are in terms of how the type of people that you bring in, they’re going to bring one mindset in. They’re like, okay, this is the way it’s done, this is all the way it’s done. But when you guys came in, you came in more as entrepreneurs first, like, we’re going to be we’re going to be entrepreneurs first, and we’re going to focus on the manufacturing side. And isn’t that kind of one of the reasons why you left the restaurant business was because you kept trying to get your companies that you were with to innovate, but like, no, we don’t want to innovate. We’re going to stick with this sort of best practices way of doing things. Yes.

Jake: And one very basic example restaurant where you’re at at the end of the night when you’re closing up, you would write down in a booklet, like a paragraph basically saying how the night went. And so the next manager coming in, Scott comes in in the morning and says, like, oh, Tommy did a terrible job last night. We were slow here, yadda yadda. And at some point he was like, hey, why aren’t we using like one note, type it in, you reduce the handwriting issue because that’s some some people illegible handwriting. So let’s type it in and it’s in one note. And then, hey, maybe I’m at home and I get, oh, I wonder how tonight went and see and was like, oh, that’s no good. I know to be prepared for this when I hit the door tomorrow morning, and I’m not surprised that we’re out of this or that. And so we got our store to do that and dragged them across the line. And that worked well. And we found out that a little while after we left, they ditched the one note and gone back to the writing it in on the paper.

Wade: So there’s inertia to everything, right? Whenever you have a business. And that’s what happens to some of these. Even in the firearms industry, you’ll have some of these businesses where they’ll be making these moves. And in some ways it’s good. Right? Like, I’m glad that the Glock 19, Gen three is the Glock 19 Gen three. That doesn’t need to change. They’re like, oh, let’s do a Gen four and Gen five. I was like, I don’t know, it’s the best selling firearm of all time practically. So like, why mess with it, right? Yeah. So you’ll have bigger companies that will do stuff like that. The good thing is they still sell the Gen three, so that’s not bad. So they get stuck in the way that they do things. And that can be good. Like like Glock obviously super reliable. But then there’s not maybe that they’re innovating for the sake of innovating. And then they kind of mess with something that works really well. You guys are in the opposite situation with the holster side. You’re like, okay, why is this taking so long? It’s taking, I mean, these huge lead times, and we’re going to not really care about what anyone else thinks. We’re going to do it our way. I mean, you guys pivoted from your original holster concept, which was kydex and leather. How long did you have that holster and why did you pivot away from that into just kydex?

Jake: Oh man, we probably did that strongly for about a year and it wasn’t an overnight pivot. We started doing the all kydex and we had both and then it was okay. The all kydex is doing this, the hybrids doing this, this is obviously where it’s at. Let’s just put all our focus into the all kydex. But yeah, part of that was definitely well, like I said, once we started selling it, that was selling better. So that’s one obviously what people want. And so let’s do that. But then two, in terms of the production side of things, we weren’t getting the leather cut out like we were receiving it cut out. So we had to rely on someone else for our major piece of material for production. We weren’t just like getting raw leather and like tanning it and cutting it out in the correct shape and then moving on with it. So we were somewhat reliant on that guy, right? And he also, as far as I remember, it was like a side thing for him too. So maybe he wakes up one morning and was like, oh, I got a big promotion at work and I don’t want to do this anymore. And so whereas with the old Kydex, we’re just getting the raw materials in and then we take it the rest of the way. And so we’re pretty much like vertically integrated on that. And so yeah, it’s both what customers wanted and were reacting to and then really allowed us to hone in on the production side of things. And I found that.

Wade: Really interesting, too. When we were talking earlier about how you did a lot of trial and error. Right. So and I don’t want to get too far into your manufacturing process, because I don’t want you to be talking out of school, and I don’t know what you comfortable revealing and not revealing, but I do. Know that there are various different things with regards to just even how the pieces were held together or how they were cooled down, how they were finished, all that kind of stuff. And the switch to the mill. Talk me through a little bit about that, like the trial and error. And was there ever a time where you were like, we’re never going to be able to make this work? Or was it always like, no, we know there’s an answer. We just got to find it.

Jake: For the most part, we’re in the there has to be an answer category. And especially with Scott, that sort of is his mental mindset is pretty much like, no, there is another way and we’re going to find it. So like for example, with the weed and buffer edges one, it smooths them out and then two, they just look really nice. And they got a nice shine to them. And I know not everybody does that. Some just take it off the mill or off the machine that they use and then rough buff it. But we still do that finishing buff. But it leaves a compound on the edge of the holster. So what we were doing is we would soak those in water and then you get like a stool or wool brush or something and scrub them and ultimately that was we made other improvements. So it’s like the time to make the holster has decreased. But man, this is still a heavy chunk of time and it’s just a lot of elbow grease to do. And it’s you would sometimes like there’d be like a sheen or discoloration where you’d been scrubbing.

Jake: And of course we try to eliminate that. And so I bought like an old dishwasher. We tried that. Scott got a tub and basically created like a small jacuzzi, thinking that sort of caused it to come off. And that didn’t really work. Either we hot water or cold water, etc. and at some point he came in and was like, yeah, I was talking to a chemist and like a forum online last night or something, and he’s like, if we use this chemical like this temperature, he thinks it’ll warm. And we did that. And so now it’s just a matter of rinsing the ulcers off after they soak and the compound just falls off. There’s no extensive scrubbing. And so we’re that right there. Probably reduced a minute per holster in time spent. And it if you just have a chemical it’s cold water. It doesn’t work. If you just have hot water and not that specific chemical it doesn’t work. It was that specific combination that worked. Yeah. There was a way.

Wade: Well, and that must have been a fun moment too. Like that’s what makes entrepreneurship fun, is those eureka moments where you’re like, oh, we just figured this out. And I think too is like, I’m fairly certain that the guy he was talking to was not in the firearms industry. Right? So it’s the willingness to go outside of the industry. And so let’s take the best practices from other areas or take knowledge from other areas and do whatever works. And a lot of people, again, they get that tunnel vision of like, no, this is the way we do it. This is how it’s done. We’re not moving off of that. And, you know, you guys are really willing to innovate. And I think your customers really, you know, benefit from it because you get a more uniform product and they get faster. So you’ve got the manufacturing process now, like you feel like I mean, you feel like you have your base process down is that allow you to experiment now with different ways of doing things for the products themselves. Now that the manufacturing is all down or do you guys do that or are you guys like, nope, we just do the same thing every time because I think you were talking about that. Your experimenting with some different some new product lines coming up for next year maybe.

Jake: Yeah. In terms of the specific models or styles we have now, it’s pretty much like we’ll bring in new people, hire new people, and it’s like, hey, this is the way it’s done, this is why, etc. and occasionally it’ll get somebody like, oh, maybe we try this or whatever, and it’s a balance. Hypothetically, parts of the process could get better or faster. So I want to be willing to okay, this person has an idea we haven’t thought of. Maybe we’ll try it. But then you have to balance that with hey, on the other side, the way it is now is it’s pretty effective. We’ve timed it. There’s only so much you can shave off seconds from different processes. And so that’s always push pull. You want to get something better if you can, but you don’t want to waste a ton of time on something that was only going to do so much. And so in terms of what we have, we’ve got locked pretty well. But yes, we are. Plus one style holster, which is the gun and mag carrier. Together, we’re working on something that’s going to make that a little more flexible, a little more adaptable. And so that will benefit all our customers. So we’re looking for that. But then on the flip side, it’s should be um, a little easier on the production side as well. And so it’ll it’ll it’s a win. It looks like.

Wade: You don’t want to be the restaurant that doesn’t do the listen to the people like, hey, what about this? But at the same time do is you can’t go down rabbit holes for every single thing because what you’re doing works. You guys have moved a ton of holsters. And again, I don’t want to talk out of school and give numbers, but like, you guys have moved a lot of holsters and so you’ve got a lot of happy customers. And I think the cool thing too, is that you actually have a lot of options. This is the way that we met was, is that I was looking for because I was from everyday carry. I went wanted to go down to Glock 19 for my Glock 17 and because I was like, oh, I’m a big person and I’ll be fine with the Glock 17. And then after a while I was like, I need to go to a smaller gun. So and so. Like we actually met on Twitter. And you have a you’re just getting Twitter started. Oh, give everyone your Twitter handle and I’ll put it, make sure it’s in the notes. But you know, sometimes it’s good to when they’re like, oh I love this guy. Let’s get on Twitter right away. Like what’s your Twitter handle right now for the company. Yeah, it’s.

Jake: Just at PhD. Holsters.

Wade: Phd holsters. Yeah. And I just reached out to you in the DMs and you actually walked me through. I was going to buy the wrong model. And because I was like, I was going to get an optic model, I don’t need it because I’m all about iron sights for me and for my Glock. And and I’m probably too rigid on that. Right. So and then but you walk me through and I got the perfect I got the perfect holster and but you guys have a lot of options because obviously there’s so many different variations that people can have for their everyday carry.

Jake: Yeah. One thing we really focused on once we got a feel for the market and it’s still a focus, is the light bearing stuff. We noticed 2017, 2018, we were seeing more and more people like, hey, I’ve got a Streamlight, Tlr1 or Tlr6 or something else on my gun and doing it the old like cottage industry way where you’re using the green guns and stuff that like you got green gun, you’ve got the light, you attach it, you tape it up, you add blocking, put in the like very time consuming. Right. And so using our new process and actually just post a video about this on Twitter, kind of laying out the molds. I can’t do the one off that we don’t have, right? Someone’s like, hey, I have this light on this gun. You don’t have this right now. Um, can you do one off? And I can’t because of the way we do it now. But on the flip side, if you’ve got a Glock 19 with TLR one. We can meet as many of those as we need to, and same with any other model we have. And so we really focus on the lights, because doing it, the old hand based way was very time consuming. And so that definitely gave us a competitive advantage there. So yeah, we’re always working on adding new lights, new models and that the new models are it’s amazing how much some of these companies, all these like SIG, especially all these slight variations, they P365 365 XL 365 x macro. Here’s one the with safety. Without safety this has mag release. This doesn’t like all of the the barrels an inch longer on this one. It’s amazing all the variations. And so we do our best to stay on top of that within reason.

Wade: So we love Glock for that reason. You’re like yes another Glock. That’s exactly the same. Yeah.

Jake: They keep it pretty consistent which is nice. But there with the Gen five. Uh, Gen 134, the in the 40 millimeter Glock have been identical with Gen five. They made the mirror Glock a lot fatter, a lot fatter to the extent where we can’t do a holster that fits both because it’s just way too sloppy for them. And so why they did that? I don’t know. But yeah, they’re pretty good about it overall.

Wade: This episode is brought to you by Every few years, it seems large banks and national credit card processors suddenly decide that they no longer want to process payments for firearms and firearms related businesses, and so they drop these businesses with almost no notice, freezing tens of thousands of dollars in payments for months on end. If you want to ensure your partner with a payments provider that is dedicated to supporting the firearms industry, or you just want to find out if you could be paying less for your ACH debit and credit card processing, visit TacticalPay.Com again, that’s

Wade: Terms for, like the lights, for example. There’s a million different types of lights. What is the process that you guys go through that you say, all right, we’re going to make a holster for this specific light. Is it do you just look at the numbers in the industry. Do you look at are there demand numbers that people are like, hey, you get a lot of messaging on this specific light and like, okay, that’s enough to reach the threshold for us to like mill that out. Or how do you go through that process of picking? And same for the optics too, right? Like there’s a bajillion different type of optics you can put on your gun. So how do you figure that out in terms of what you’re going to do when you’re making the holsters?

Jake: Yeah. So on the lights, it’s a combination of kind of feel like at this point knowing what like streamline very popular. They make a pretty good quality light. But it’s not as expensive as surefire. Right. And so they’re in a good spot. So when streamline comes out with something new and based upon at least the people are buying our holsters, we know, hey, that’s a pretty safe bet, right? That’s something we’ll do with the light. Seems to be pretty popular and seems to be. I don’t think the quality is as good as like the streamline stuff, but it definitely is a step up from the $25 like Chinese knockoff light online. There’s a lot of those, right. So we stay out of that. And yeah, so it’s a lot of popular gun popular light. And so that’s we let that guide us. But then we tried as well to. Sometimes try something different because you sometimes don’t know, like, hey, this may be less popular, but if nobody else has this, then it is worth it. And so at one point. So the FN five seven is a huge go, right? Five seven round. That gun is just a monstrous piece. Right. And we bought it. I think we had an oh WB holster for it because who’s shoving this down their pants right. We did decide though to make an WB holster. And apparently people are shoving it down their pants and nobody else is offering a holster for it because they.

Wade: Had the same thought process that you did. And this is what I love about the firearms industry is there’s always some group of people that are like, oh yeah, I’m gonna that’s going to be that’s going to be I’m an appendix. Carry that bad boy. I’m six four and a half and I try to appendix carry the Glock 17. I’m like, I’m like, this is silly, I can’t do this. And maybe it’s just because I’m, I don’t know, a wuss or something. I’m like, it’s too big. And but yeah, there’s a group of people like, no, this is awesome. And that’s cool that you are thinking. And again, that’s coming at from a marketing perspective because like a purist would be like, no, this gun is too big. You got to carry a strong side. You got to be outside the waistband. It’s got to be it’s and we’re just going to make a normal holster for it. But I guess that must have been pretty exciting and cool when people started ordering that, you’re like, oh my God, people are actually ordering this.

Jake: Oh yeah. It was a lot of that. Like, oh, have you seen the five, seven years? Like all right. Whatever. Like that’s great. And yeah. And two right. Remembering. On six one. I’m barely lean. I carried a peak just good mid size gun, but there’s a local Swat guy who swings by sometimes and he’s. I don’t know. 6522 50 muscle. Right. That dude carries a Glock 34 long, I think, which is even beyond to 17. And just the idea that seems ridiculous. But then he comes in here and you don’t notice it. And the next thing you know, he pulls his shirt up and pulls this thing out.

Wade: It’s like the dirty Harry. It’s like the dirty Harry reveal of his gun, right? Yeah. It’s like.

Jake: Holy smokes, you can actually carry that. Like, I no idea you had this giant piece of metal on you. But based upon his body type, he can carry and he loves it so well.

Wade: And you make loyal customers. And that’s the cool thing too, is, again, you talked about it. It’s like this dance. Just like with your employees and their ideas. You’re like, okay, like we have some institutional knowledge. This is work. But hey, this may work, right? We’ll try it out. And it’s the same thing was like, you’re trying to be on the manufacturing side. You’re not just a straight manufacturer, you’re also a firearms enthusiast as well. And so you’re like, okay, I want to meet what? How can we meet this demands for this that no one else is meeting that might not make, quote, entrepreneurial or manufacturing sense, but it makes business sense because that’s the business that we’re in. Yeah, I would assume that’s what makes things fun.

Jake: Yeah. The surprise is and yeah, especially like with the manufacturing thing, right, when you can’t or just like this new model style. Right. Seeing that like you go from the conceptual, this makes sense. Like you argue it out over. No. Should we do it this way or that way. And you get to hit it from like multiple directions too. Like you get to hit it from the side of like, okay, as somebody who carries. Right, if I’m carrying this, what would be the perfect design, right, that I would like. And so that’s fun then. But then there’s also, okay, you can’t just come up with the design. You have to know step by step how you’re actually going to make it. So that’s in a whole other side where excuse me from the manufacturing perspective.

Wade: Okay. We have this new design.

Jake: We do, we do, we bring it up this way. Do we do this? Should we try to eliminate this process? What can we do? And yeah, a lot of trial and error. But then it’s an awesome feeling when it’s like, wow, this you get that prototype through and it’s like, okay, this is good, right? This fits someone who’s going to carry it. I like this. And then looking at the way it was manufactured that that makes sense, right? Like we can do that and that can be profitable.

Wade: So I put in a big puzzle piece, a big puzzle together. And then when it works it’s like, okay, cool. And then and that’s cool because it’s an asset, because then once you have the manufacturing process down and you have the how you’re going to mill it and all that, that you can just do that forever, right? Until obviously till they change the gun. Right. But like I said, people are still buying gen threes for like the Glock 19. Right. So now how do you test them. Is it just you and Scott taking them to the range and just stress testing them yourself. And because to me it’d be awesome. Like oh someone comes out with a cool new gun. I’m like, gonna have to test this gun. It looks like we have to go buy this new gun. Now all of a sudden you’ve got this arsenal of guns because you’ve got to test them all. So, yeah.

Jake: So we mostly hands on testing has to come. Comes when it’s a new, totally new like style. Right. And so like, if we’re just adding another model and a style of holster already AB that normally doesn’t require as much testing because the that style has been like confirmed to work. Right. And we know how to make it. But even then, we still have to. You still have to check it, right? Like. You get the prototype done. Everybody’s wearing it around just around the shop. Whatever sort of random testing we can do to just. Like I said, with the one, it’s that particular style. It’s normally just is there anything weird about this guy? And typically it’s fine. But like the Glock 26, for example, is short enough and heavy enough that like using the general sort of design principles we had didn’t quite work for that because it we tuck it in there and it’s like, oh, this is top heavy and it’s not a problem on the Glock 43. Same length, but it’s not as it’s not as dense in the 19 longer. But the 26 is very short and fat. Right. And so you have to make minor tweaks there. But yeah, like with the new model or the new style. Yeah we accept plus one style. It’s going to be flexible in the middle. And I wanted to test the this, this material we’re using seems really it’s very flexible which is great. But it also seems very strong. But I’m like how how strong, how can we test this to see.

Jake: And so I got the plus one style with that flexible material in the middle. And we have a gym in the back. And so I went back there and slung it up over the pull up bar. And we started with the lightest person back there and had him hang from the holster. And so all the stress was on that middle section of material that’s flexible and hopefully strong enough. So he hangs from it in the homes. And so all right who’s the next heaviest. Right. So right. Not the most like scientifically precise way to go about it. But at the end wow. So and so weighs X amount. He was able to hang in this material didn’t break didn’t it like pull like at the threads. And so a lot of that will occasionally get a holster that’s been cracked. And it’s one of those mysteries as to how this happens. I’ve taken holsters to the back. I’ve got the £40 kettlebell boom. I mean, just like abusing them and then like bends, but doesn’t crack. Like every once in a while we’ll get a customer who’s like, yeah, this cracked. And I’m always trying to figure out like, how did you do this? Well, we tried to replicate it. I’ve just dropped straight up weights on this stuff, but it’s not happening. And so I, I think it’s like a temperature thing, but yeah, it’s hard to tell. So yeah on unorthodox and some of that stuff. But it works.

Wade: And that’s the cool thing about what you guys do is you’re trying to figure out again out of the box thinking like, I know this can hold a gigantic man hanging from it, like it’s not going to be a problem. And obviously when you start to send him out into the field, you’re going to get reports back. So if you have something that’s not working, all of a sudden you’re going to fix it. And I think that’s the advantage that you guys have is because you have such a large customer base, is you have a built in lab test just from your people. You have enough people using them to where any kind of defect or anything like that hasn’t been discovered previously would come out. It’s going to get found out, and you guys haven’t really had any issues like that. So that’s really I mean, I think that’s just such an advantage of the fact that your manufacturing process that you can do at scale has these like downstream effects that you never would have thought of before you started doing it.

Jake: And people in the industry, too, are pretty sharp on stuff, rightfully so. Because, right, you’re carrying a loaded firearm. This needs to work. So there’s ever any sort of issue, you find out pretty much immediately. And one cool short example on something that we didn’t expect. We had a particular ODB holster, which works fine. We didn’t have any issues with it, and I had a guy email me talking about it and wonder if we could make this minor change here. And that minor change was because they were doing this several years ago. They were doing contract work over in the Middle East, and when you get in a chopper, the way they were loaded in and like pressed together, that would create like an issue with this one particular model. So the average person using this is not an issue. Right? It’s not an issue for everybody who’s not flying around in a chopper. But we just make this one little tweak, right. It’s going to work for us as well. And so yeah, that was really cool because we don’t have a chopper around here that we can fly around in. You could pretend. Yeah, yeah. To test this, to test this stuff. So yeah, I’m always excited to hear, hear feedback on this.

Wade: The biggest issue on this stuff is that like a negligent discharge is going to ruin everyone’s day, right? So I mean, actually there are this isn’t just fun and games like one is like it has to work. It has to work every single time. Then it has to work under duress. I mean, that’s the whole point. Yeah. It’s not for fashion. And that’s the one thing that struck me too, is that your holsters are and I don’t have any problem with people that have the whole like Gucci mentality for firearms and all that. Right? But I’m the guy who’s like, I will learn to shoot an iron sights, like I am like a caveman when it comes to firearms. Right? So like to me it’s like, I don’t care about any of that. I’m like, does it have the utility that I need? Is it work? Is it safe? That’s it. That’s all I care about. And I’m not saying you don’t have good looking holsters. You do. But I haven’t seen anything that strikes me as that. You guys are trying to cater to the Gucci vertical.

Jake: No, not really like we have. If you want the multicam print on the kydex like we do have that, it looks cool, but nobody should see it. So I don’t.

Wade: Think that’s Gucci. I think that’s just personalization. That’s I just think again, I think it’s some of these bells and whistles that people try to put on things. Oh like, because the more industrial manufacturing is that the more you put on something, the more. Does there offer something to fail?

Jake: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Eliminating the unnecessary. Right. Like there is a certain point where a very high quality bolster consists of such and adding something new that nobody else has done. Maybe that’s useful or maybe not like. Or is this something where like, hey, we did this, nobody else has done it. Well, there’s a reason no one else has done it. Yeah, well, and.

Wade: Again, I’m not badmouthing the Gucci people because I don’t want to get hate mail. Right. Like that’s because it’s cool. Like people. It’s just like cars. Like when you people love to trick everything out. It’s like. It’s like it’s just their passion. So I’m not saying that, but for me, it’s like, again, is the biggest number. One thing is like we’re talking about is like, the only thing we care about is can we make a consistent holster for everybody the same. So like the hundredth person that buys it, it’s the same as the 15,000th person that buys it in terms of the functionality, the safety, if how it’s used and all that. And that’s just from talking to you multiple times and from the customer services. That’s you guys just care about the your manufacturer is first and that’s what you care about. Yeah.

Jake: Yeah. Getting it right consistently.

Wade: What’s next for you guys in terms of I know we got Christmas coming up and what’s next for 2024. Like what are your guys’s long terme goals for the next year.

Jake: Yeah. So definitely rolling out that new style. There’s no reason not to believe that’s going to be pretty popular. And I could see that sort of replacing our current plus one style. And so we’re really excited about that because just a lot more adaptable. It’s going to give people more options to carry and it’s going to be ambidextrous. That’ll be nice too, because that’s a difficult thing. I hate to tell. We don’t offer a ton of let the options. So I ate what I have to tell someone like, nope, sorry, we don’t have that simply because it’s left handed, right? But it’s also a financial decision as well. And so but with this, we should hopefully be able to, um, accommodate them as well. And then we do have another sort of attachment related project. But that’s a little that’s more manufacturing heavy and a little more, uh, long terme. And so that could be a 2024 thing as well, but I can’t I want to talk about that one.

Wade: What happens what happens if somebody comes out with a new gun. Right. Like do you guys have noticed that advance. So you’re like, okay, so we know this company’s going to come out with a new gun. And so we’re going to plan for that. Or is it just you guys react when there’s a new gun hits the market. And then and you say okay, there’s a new gun on the market. I just had this vision of you guys just having a staff meeting and you’re just like, okay, like, how does that work? Like, when do you does someone just bring it to your attention? You’re like, hey, there’s a new gun, or people are asking you about it, or do you plan that in advance?

Jake: So we obviously keep our eyes out. Right? And so if a company announces a new model, we know about it. We’re following them. We do not get a heads up in advance. And it’s weird. It’s definitely not like the movie or video game industry, right? Like, hey, this launch is on March 18th. You buy it in stores or online March 18th. A handgun releases are weird, man. I like there’s never like a hard date and they tend to trickle out and it can almost be location based. And so I’m amazed at the number of times where I’ll get an email from someone, hey, I got this new model, when are you going to have a holster for it? I’m like, dude, like I’m checking all the like the gun buying sites, even the ones where you can buy directly from people, not from the manufacturer. Right. People have already got it. And it’s like there’s one for sale up here. Like, where did you get this? Oh, this is my store. Such and such here. They tend to get the Glock stuff first. It’s like, oh that’s okay. Do they sell online? That’s where I’m going to get it. And so yeah, it’s very odd industry in that regard. There’s no hard release date and a lot of the guns. And so it’s really when something new is teased then obviously we can kind of start preparing and maybe comparing to what we currently have to see if that’s oh, this is very similar to this may not be necessary to get the new gun. And then hunting down okay. Which random small store for whatever reason is the first in the Midwest area to get this? And then how do we get it so we can get it going again?

Wade: That’s like another treasure hunt, right? So I mean, I think that’s part of probably something that makes it interesting. Do you guys ever retire a holster? So you say, okay, like we’re just going to retire this version and then or is it just because once you have the specs to do it, you can always blow it up if you need to?

Jake: Yeah. We typically keep. Things going like continue to offer, like if we have a model and even if it doesn’t end up being very popular, like we still have the molds for it, we’ve done the work for it. We’re going to go ahead and keep it right. So we typically keep that going in terms of holster style. Occasionally there’s like a a much older like Taco Bell style holster that we only have a handful of models like that’s going to go especially with the new style we’re coming out with that’s going to have Taco Bell clips. And so that sort of why get that what, you have this over here instead. And so we’ll retire that and stuff. It’s okay. So we strike out and try a new style and maybe the market isn’t really receptive to it then even though we still typically hang. But once we come up with something that is the same but better than we typically will retire that style.

Wade: Well, listen, man, it’s been so great to talk to you today. Again, I always enjoy I learned something every time we talk. How do people find you? Give us a website. Give us your Twitter address again. And then where can people opt in to your email list?

Jake: Yes, our Twitter feed holsters. So we’re on there. That’s the main one. We are FDU Industries on Instagram. Instagram at this point is restricted our reach so much that I stay pretty focused on Twitter. Our website, FDU and you can sign up there for like the newsletter and and all that stuff.

Wade: So are you advertising anywhere or are you pretty much restricted everywhere that you advertise? And this might be a good thing to talk about before we sign off is how are you overcoming the barriers that you’re experiencing because your firearms adjacent, right. Like, what are you experiencing? How are you overcoming those things? Maybe some other businesses are listening and you might give them some ideas on that. Yeah.

Jake: Even though for the most part what we do doesn’t seem to violate any terms of service for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, whatever doesn’t matter. I don’t know if it’s the people seeing the appeals or if it’s the algorithm and bots, but basically we tend to get shot down on pretty much any advertising that we are able to do a little bit of advertising on Google. So if your search engine stuff Instagram and Facebook is basically a no at this point, they used to work with me and want to try to put up an ad that just immediately gets shot down. I’m like, hey, this is actually fine, here’s why, yadda yadda. Okay, sorry, that’s our mistake. They just don’t even talk to me anymore. I can’t even get anybody to respond to me. Twitter. We have been really banging the drum on Twitter, especially with Elon talking about being more open to different advertising and then the ad issues he’s having. So just this past week, they we did get an ad to run actually run on there. It’s for our Leatherman holster, which is right. Like that’s like it’s a multi-tool and it’s a plastic case for multi-tool. That’s definitely far and away just fine. Right. And so but back in September I tried to run that and it was just nope. And so no appealed. No why I don’t know. Nobody else talked. So that did change about a week ago. I have not tried to run a gun holster ad yet, but I will be hopefully. And the industry, especially on Twitter, like the Phoenix Ammunition guy, they are really pushing. Hey, you’re complaining about advertisers leaving. It’s not like we’re selling like an illegal product, right? Like I see ads for weed and things like that, and that’s not legal everywhere. But otherwise all this other stuff is. And so yeah, it’s always been an uphill battle. There’s only so much you can do about it. It is what it is. But starting to maybe hopefully gain some traction on Twitter X, whatever on that one, we’ll.

Wade: Just start moving a lot. First of all, you gotta did you purchase Premium Plus? Right. For whatever it is, $60 a month and then just start moving a ton of Leatherman, a ton of Leatherman holsters. Right? And then they’d be like, well, we’re doing all this. We’re we don’t want to lose our Leatherman holster advertising. So but just so you know, is everyone we talked to experiences similar things in terms of the tactical business. And so it’s a cost of doing business in this vertical for sure. But you guys are doing some great work, Jake. And I’d love to have you come on the show again, man. Yeah for.

Jake: Sure. No, it’s been a great time I appreciate it. All right.

Wade: And I’ll make sure to have all of your contact information for the show notes. And you do answer your DMs. I can say that for sure on Twitter. So yeah.

Jake: Dms in my email Jake at Fdo Perfect. We’ll answer it so.

Wade: I can verify that you will. That’s how I got one of my holsters. So all right man cool. We’ll talk again.

Jake: Sounds good. Have a good one.

Wade: Have a great rest of your week. Bye bye. You’ve been listening to the Tactical Business Show by Join us again next episode as we explore what it takes to be a business success in the firearms industry.