Sunday, January 7, 2018

Joe from Ti Rod Tactical interview

1. Why do you use Titanium?

  I thought about this and researched material options for many hours
prior to starting my business about two years ago. I almost
immediately ruled out Aluminum because it's fairly soft so it dings
easily, and can corrode under wet and salty conditions over time. It
can also be readily found in low cost mass produced Kubotans made
overseas with low cost labor.

  As I was basically hand making everything, I couldn't compete with
that, and so needed a material that produced a superior product, and
that gave enough added value to the user to justify my time and
investment in making them.

  By the way, the investment is quite substantial, as my lengthy (50+
pages) US Utility Patent filing two years ago has cost over $13,000 so
far, and we will be responding to the USPTO First Office Action later
this month, which is likely to be another $3,000 or so. It doesn't
take long when your Attorney has a $375.00 Hourly Rate!  I have about
the same total investment in materials, including a well used older
Horizontal Metal Cutting Band Saw and 2" wide Belt Sander.  So the
Products I produce had to be worth my time, investment, AND the buyers
funds outlay to make the business feasible.

  Stainless Steel was also a possibility, but I was looking for an EDC
stick that wouldn't tear through pants pockets due to the weight over
time. Considering pockets are already loaded with keys, change, and
assorted odds and ends,...keeping weight reasonable was important.

Titanium was chosen because it has lots of properties that make a
Kubotan or Yawara Stick a better product. It's about half the weight
by volume of Stainless Steel, is rustproof and inert to most solvents.
Titanium's strength to weight rating is much higher than steel in
almost all measures, and as Titanium is stressed it resists additional
stresses much like a progressive spring.

  One other quality I like, especially noticed in my longer Walking
Sticks and Staffs, is that it tends to absorb some of the shock and
vibration in use.  That's why Titanium, often in the same Grade 5
Alloy, makes a comfortable high end Bicycle Frame. This last trait is
not noticed in my Kubotan Sized Yawara Sticks, because of their much
shorter lengths. But you will never "break" one in half during use!
:-)

  And vitally important, Grade 5 Titanium (6AL-4V,  an alloy of 90%
Titanium, 6% Aluminum, and 4% Vanadium) is looked at by most folks as
a superior and premium material. The alloys add strength and
toughness, among other things. The Grade 5 Titanium Alloy I use is
often referred to as "Aerospace Grade 5 Titanium", because it is used
in the Aerospace  field due to the qualities previously outlined, as
well as it's very high melting point.

2. Why are there 50 models?

  I didn't intend to start out that way,...really!  But over the
months as I worked with the material making my first walking sticks,
and later a Yawara Stick ( 6-1/8" x .4375" version), I found myself
sitting with LOTS of smaller Titanium pieces that I wanted to find a
use for because Titanium is costly.

  The 2-3/4" Key Ring Carry short stick came about as a way to make
use of the end of rod cut offs, and became my 2nd model. It has become
a popular item as well, because it is so light and handy when carried
at the end of your keys. You definitely WON'T forget to take it with
you either, as no keys usually means "NO Go!"

This is the model I'm talking about, and the pics show it in use:
https://www.tirodtactical.com/product-page/titanium-key-ring-door-knocker-self-defense-stick

  Funny thing is, when I'm sitting down with a respirator on, sanding
and beveling the ends on my reinforced rubber handles (made from
reinforced Auto Fuel Line), I have a lot of time to "think" to keep
the monopoly of it all in check and occupy my mind. Same when I'm
using a dedicated Triple Header electrical shaver to remove most of
the reinforcement threads embedded in the rubber;  I have lots of time
to think!

  My very popular Palm Cap Stick came about like that,.....and now
made in several lengths has sold well into 20 Countries so far.  This
stick, like many of them, are offered in several sizes for a couple of
reasons. Hand sizes vary greatly, and especially so between Men's and
Women's hands. SO by necessity I really have to offer something that
will work well for everyone. On some extremely small or larger hands,
I can even make a slight adjustment in the grip length for best
fit,....certainly something not available in a large output overseas
factory. For me it's easy, because I already do the hand work on each
stick.

3. What is the Fist-Lock feature?

  My Fist-Lock™ feature places the raised rubber grip into that small
pocket created where your fingers meet the hand, when you make a fist.
Working much like a Key Way holding a wheel onto an electric motor
arbor, this grip forms a "mechanical connection" to the hand.

  Most grips depend on friction and hand strength alone to secure the
tool in hand, whereas the Fist-Lock™ grip will remain secure without
"white knuckling" the stick, especially under wet or weakened user
conditions! As my Patent Lawyer outlines in our application, the
defensive stick cannot be pulled from the hand for as long as the user
remains conscious! :-)

  One other important feature of this grip is that for grappling, pain
compliance, and locking maneuvers, you can still have a great grip on
your stick while your hand is OPEN! This  allows use of your Thumb and
Tips of your Fingers to act as a sort of pinching "Claw", allowing you
to dig the tip into wrist or other bony areas!

  And finally, this grip automatically indexes and centers the stick
for hammer fist strikes, yet allows instant stick position changes for
forward thrusting to the head or neck, or simply pushing the tip into
those same areas to bring someone to the ground without seriously
hurting them. (obnoxious drunk grabbing at you comes to mind, but not
a perceived serious threat)

4. Can they be used for something other than self-defense?

  Oh yeah they CAN! :-)  My Palm Cap Sticks sticks (link below) have
seen regular use as a portable Door Knocker by Home Delivery
Professionals (pizza delivery for example), Process Servers bringing
bad news, and as an Acupressure Tool. One of my 5" lengths is used by
a Medical Doctor Kidney Specialist that does Acupressure and
Acupuncture work once a week.

https://www.tirodtactical.com/product-page/titanium-palm-cap-pocket-carry-4375-yawara-stick

  I've personally used one of my shorter 4-1/4" or 4-1/2" Palm Cap
Sticks to relieve a stress headache, by placing the domed tip into
that hollow at the base of the neck, and leaning back into a couch or
chair to apply pressure there. Usually after just a few minutes the
headache disappears!

  It also makes a fine Medicinal Pill Crusher to break up stronger
medications into a water bottle or juice cap, and then add to powder
the liquid and shake. This can ease stomach upsets with some of the
stronger medications, while generally speeding medication absorption
times. (even simple headaches can go away faster this way)

  One final way I've used the Palm Cap Stick, a 5" one usually, is
when I needed to tenderize a tough cut of Beef. After rinsing off the
rubber tip, you can pound the toughness out of the meat AND practice
your Hammer Fist Strikes at the same time!

  Cook prepping  couldn't be more fun,... and if you want Cube Steak
instead, reverse the stick and use the bare Titanium Tip.  A great way
to work on your accuracy, while helping the lady of the house get
dinner ready! (and I bet she won't have to even ask you! :-)

By the way, even my double ended Yawara Sticks can do many of these
functions, but the comfort of the fully domed tip excels in comfort
for Acupressure use, especially.

5. What makes yours different from others?

  I'd previously spent 35 years as a Bench Jewelry Repairman and
Diamond Setter, so my attention to detail carries over into this
endeavor also. I'm also proud of the sheer variety of innovative and
useful designs, the use of quality materials, and the hand fit and
finish work to "my" standards.

  This is the same standard I used when I did Jewelry work those 35
years, and is simply IF I wouldn't be satisfied with a finished job if
I were making it for "myself", the customer won't ever get it and I'll
do it OVER until I would be satisfied with it!  A bit OCD perhaps, but
in all these years a philosophy that has never let me, or my
customers,...down!

  While my sticks are never meant to be finished to a high end piece
of expensive Jewelry (they are "banging" tools, after all), it
certainly can be said my customers have noted and commented on the
workmanship through their reviews that they were impressed.

  One other thing that I do differently, is that I offer a "ONE Year
Money Back Guarantee If Not Delighted".  That was an easy decision for
me really, as I know my work. Over the last two years and between
1,200 to 1,300 sticks sold, not one has ever been returned for refund
for not being "delighted".  A pretty good record I think. :-)

  In the interest of fair and open disclosure, one ebay buyer used a
USA re-shipper, and after the re-shipper got the lightweight 6" x
.365" Yawara stick, he notified the buyer in Australia that he
believed it was illegal in that Country and would be seized if shipped
there, so he sent in back to me and I fully refunded the buyer. The
buyer REALLY wanted the stick, but bad Aussie Law curtailed delivery
so that's not really a return for not being happy with it. I believe I
had one exchange also,...for a heavier, longer, and more expensive
model because his hand was HUGE!

  In the end, I enjoy working with my hands and it shows. I'm also a
bit "Old School", in that  the customer comes first. Many days when
I'm a bit jammed on orders, I don't get a meal until after I ship
about 4:00 or 5:00 PM. (a great way to keep my weight in check too :-)
Virtually everything is shipped the same day too,  if at all possible
depending mostly on how late an order arrives.

6. What is your best seller?

  My Palm Cap Stick in all lengths is probably the best "overall"
seller, but I think it's important to note that this stick is sold in
many lengths, and configurations. I have this basic stick listed for
Pocket Carry, Neck Carry with a separate Carriage with cord, and as a
Belt Carry using a Leather Belt Keeper and Hose Carriage. With the
belt carry, you can remove the leather belt keeper and use the stick
and carriage for carrying keys also. Also, ALL of them can be Pocket
Carried by not using the Hose Carriages.

  If you're talking of stand alone Best Seller, I would say my
Flagship Model 6-1/8" x .50" Titanium Yawara Stick takes the Title
today. Before I came up with that about a year ago, the heaviest
Yawara Stick I made was a thinner 6-1/8" x .447" Titanium Yawara
Stick. That too was, and still is a good seller.

7. Which is your favorite model?

  This is kind of hard for me to answer because I like and regularly
carry a LOT of them at the same time. In fact, I often carry 3 or 4
models, spread out throughout my various pants and jacket
pockets,....in case I'm wrapped up in any way restricting access to my
main stick. (My main stick is a 6-1/8" x .50" Titanium Yawara carried
in my right front pants pocket)

  But I ALWAYS have my Key Ring Carry short stick in my hand going to
the car or house, as the cap is hidden from view yet the stick tip
instantly available if needed to repel an attack. I also carry a
5-1/2" x .50" lightweight (1.4 oz) Black Delrin in my shirt pocket,
and I don't even notice it.

  In my Left Front Pocket I carry my "Fun" stick, a 5" x .50" Delrin
or Titanium Yawara Stick that I like to spin one handed left side.
I'll sit in a movie or eating lunch at the Mall or elsewhere
(sometimes driving but don't tell anyone :-) and spin it ladder style
working it up and down my fingers, sometimes thousands of times. It's
a great workout for the hand, and loosens it up for sure. I have one
short 4-5/8" x .442" dedicated Hand Rehabilitation Model that I also
use often, because it's length and domed tips slide over the hand web
between thumb and first finger the best :-)

8. What do you like about Yawara sticks?

  Truthfully, I really like the fact that I know my Yawara sticks can
save lives down the road, and especially enjoy hearing back from my
customers. It's also amusing when I see a first time customer order a
lower priced item from me ($15-$25), only to reorder within a day of
two of receiving it with a much larger order totaling over $150 at
times!

One customer in Hawaii did that TWICE within a week! I think they
were "testing" me, perhaps, to see if my products really are that
good.  It's gratifying when this happens because I know I've done my
job the best I know how. It also doesn't hurt that I can also pay some
bills and eat that week. :-)

  I'll be age 62 come this July, and I fully understand there are many
less days going forward than have past. So I'd like to think I can
leave something behind to help folks stay safer, and wouldn't mind
leaving something behind for my son and daughter should I ever License
some of the sticks.

9. Do you have any martial arts/police/security/military background?

  Short answer here,....none of that but I do train at home the best I
can with my sticks. I am waiting for my local MA guy (John Borter,
with classes in Albany, NY) to get a few Yawara Classes together, so I
can get some more hands on work done. If you're nearby to Albany,
check him out at: http://www.modernselfdefenseacademy.com/

10. Message for your customers/fans?

  Well,...it's certainly been a journey, and I've met and communicated
with many fine folks throughout the World in my current work. I want
to thank each and every one of my customers for your support of my
small USA based business. Many of these customers come from twenty
different Countries to date, and the refugee crisis has made many
worried for their own safety around the World. The World truly is not
what it once was,...but there are many more of you I hope to meet and
help you to "Stay Safe" a little bit better.

  As I've come to understand when I drive down the road most
days,.....EVERY one of the cars coming toward me could someday become
one of my customers. They just have to find me.... :-)

Stay Safe!
Cheers,
Joe T

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