Hideaway Knives got its start in March 2003 when a woman using the Internet handle “FrontSight9mm" and William Ericson of Orlando, Florida incorporated Artemis Defense Systems, Inc. as a Delaware corporation.
From the first days of the company, Front Sight was in charge of all public communications, publicity, and e-mails for customer service. William did the knife design CAD, maintained databases and websites, and saw to shipping accessories as well as sheathing and knife production. The original web site is www.HideAwayKnife.com, which is still online and operating today.
Originally, they water jetted blanks that went through a series of process steps including heat treatment, double disk grinding, and tumbling to arrive at blanks ready for final grind and sharpening by custom artists.
The knives were made to order based on reservations. As demand grew, it became increasingly difficult to keep up with the amount of orders for the company and its contributor artists. People were getting mad because they wanted to buy a HAK, but either couldn’t or had to wait. On top of that, the old web site’s original reservation system made it difficult for customers to tell the difference between a knife that was paid for and awaiting completion, and a knife reservation representing someone who had been placed on a waiting list.
To solve the problem, William began automating the process by learning how to use waterjets, double disk grinders, numerical control knife grinders, and numerical control milling machines and implementing them into the process.
Worrying that automating the process could change the product quality and demand for it, he was able to keep the knives collectible, rare, high quality and highly sought after. This was accomplished by adding a personal touch to all of the products.
He made each sheath by hand in a labor-intensive process. This included heating kydex squares and stepping on two plates to form each sheath half. The plates were created with a numerical controlled mill and CAD CAM software to achieve precise fit. These plates were then used to drill rivet holes in precisely the right spot on each sheath. The sheaths were then shaped by a numerical controlled mill, hand flashed, dripped again for sheath pins, blown out and oiled with baby oil.
While this process limits production, it helps to make sure that each sheath is flawless and made by hand in Orlando, Florida, just like the knives themselves were.
In 2004-2005, demand far outweighed production capacity and became overwhelming for the company and its artists. Dealing with never ending customer demands and personal health issues, FrontSight left the company, leaving the majority of the work to William, and causing many of the artists to flee in fear of bad publicity.
Despite these difficulties, William managed to keep it together and implement an improved process that included completing the knife making steps in batches at a variety of machine shops across the U.S.
In order to repair these mistakes, William implemented a process wherein HideAway Knife process steps are done in batches at a variety of machine shops across the United States. William sees this as a marked improvement on his early methods.
Each stage of the company’s growth brought new challenges. The old website still allows reservations, where customers pay nothing, but that makes William’s double shopping cart system complex and confusing, especially to people who aren’t used to asking for something to be made and pay for it only when it is ready to ship.
The complicated site structure resulted in having only a small percentage of reservations pay out when the knives are ready. If too many reservations were set to “may pay,” the backlog of unpaid, ship-able knives could easily exceed 2-3 million dollars.
William believed it would be reasonable to do away with many of the sites features. This would lessen the impact of customer complaints, which means better publicity for the company, and less scheduling problems.
This would eventually lead to the launch of the new website, HAKknife.com.
Sometime around 2014, William began experiencing severe health issues during a time when production and demand was at its peak. These medical issues included hernia surgery, a minor bladder cancer spot removal, a back fatty tumor removal, polyps surgery after colinoscopy, and a urolift prostrate procedure.
William began taking a step back from the business, causing sales to decline and leading many people to believe Hideaway Knives had closed their doors for good.
For a couple years, the website wasn’t updated, orders were not being accepted and customer’s emails were not being responded too. HAK was not done yet. It eventually became time for the company to make its big comeback.
William fully recovered and is now full of energy after medical issues caused him to suspend the business for over a year. Now he feels about 30 years old again and hopes the next 40 years will remain free of any health issues.
In addition, William met an ambitious young knife artist by the name of Cory McCoy, and decided to take him on as an apprentice and a business partner. Cory quickly learned the process of making all of the Hideaway knives and sheaths flawlessly, and proved competent enough to handle production and shipping.
Cory also created the new website, HAKknife.com, which features better inventory control, less sizes and a much easier system in place to order and pay for knives and accessories. HAKknife.com features 5 sizes, versus the 32 sizes on Hideawayknife.com. Despite the change in sizes, all of the original 32 sizes will still be available for customers that request them on the new site, allowing anyone to achieve that perfect fit.
HideAwayKnife.com is still up and running to this day for people who prefer to order using the old reservation system.
The future holds many great things for HAK, as William sees it. “Initially, FrontSight and I designed HideAway to be a corporation that would get bought out by a larger knife maker that wanted to sell my unique designs,” he says. “Currently I am planning on promoting and selling my designs for a couple more decades. People love the designs — these knives make people feel safe. When you sense danger you instantly become a human velociraptor. Then, like all good horcruxes, the knives sleep in your jewel box at night along with family heirlooms, favorite treasures, and your lucky rabbit’s foot.”
He will continue despite, he says, the incursions of copycat designs and outright counterfeit HideAways manufactured in China. His inventory will also continue to place a large demand on him because of its scope. This is part of the unique nature of the HideAway, and one of the things that make the design special.
HAKknife.com and HideAwayKnife.com resumed business on May 1. For all of August and for the next couple months to celebrate we are just about doubling every order with free items. The old site will once again take paypal payments for reservations that have been reviewed for next day ship and set to may pay.
Hideaway is still a company in its infancy, growing and improving every day. It has come a long way and still has a long way to go.
We hope people that have been wondering whatever happened to HideAway and want a HAK knife will come back to the site and experience William's renewed energy and the energy of Cory. HideAway Knives is located next to Disney World Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.