Yesterday we arrived in Norfolk at the headquarters of BLACKHAWK! (which will be called 'Blackhawk' from here on out). Some bloggers flew in, some of us lived close enough to drive. In either case we all gathered at the hotel to ride the big fancy Blackhawk bus to their headquarters. The 'bus' is a motorhome, highline class A, and set up to transport in comfort and style. The driver: former police and competent. On that topic, I don't think we met one person last night who couldn't be called exceptional at what they do. It seems to be something that permeates the company.
Moving straight to the important things..... the beer was excellent and on ice, and the food was beyond reproach. During some network time, plates of shrimp and good cheese graced several buffet tables.
The Blackhawk chef and his assistants took care of catering the dinner. Yes... I said 'Blackhawk Chef'. They have their own Chef (who is VERY good at his job), and cafe on site. The headquarters boasts only about 100 employees at this location, but they manage to keep this man busy, once meetings and events are thrown in. Like everyone else we have met so far... the chef knows his business. I had the thought that Blackhawk was pulling out the stops to impress a bunch of bloggers and internet business folks, but after the evening wore on I came to the conclusion that Blackhawk does everything at this level. All the best, all the time. Not in an arrogant corporate way, but more in a 'Been There, Done that, Earned It' kind of way.
We had a short tour of the building and facilities here. Not everything, but enough to get a feel for the company mentality and spirit. Along the way were dozens of things to catch the eye and interest. One, these trailers out in the lot. James Rummel was astute enough to ask, and the response was interesting. You see, Blackhawk has a trade in program. Send in your old gear, and get a substantial discount on new. The trailers? They are packed full with Blackhawks competitors products, all sent in by police units, civilians, and soldiers to exchange for new. Impressive
On a personal note, I'll share my impressions so far...
Blackhawk as a company is an interesting place. I'm used to finding imperfections and tearing into them to reveal the reality underneath. In a way, it's what I do all day long. Last night I had a difficult time finding anything to latch my claws into. The Blackhawk people are as professional as any I've seen in my life, and appear dedicated to the company and it's products. They have quality control processes in place that would shame most manufacturers, and their marketing strategies are inventive, predatory, and impressive as hell. They approach their business as mission.... be the best, do it right, and do it right now. As I said.... my impressions so far.
Today, we all return on 'Da Bus' for product demo's and range time. I know it's a sales pitch, but that doesn't mean good or bad. I'm determined to maintain my objectivity and report back as honestly as I can. We've all been given a "bag o'swag" to play with, including clothes, holsters, and assorted gear. That stuff will be blogged about in the future... and for now I'll concentrate on passing on what I see and learn while I'm here.