Why Victor Bites It (for me)
by David Naisuler
Back when I could care less, I was really annoyed w/ Victor for having what seemed to me to be an impossible to decipher product line. Granted, I was stuck w/ a J series torch handle, which I was led to believe was somehow less than standard and outdated, but whatever, they could have still made the tips available since the line was not nearly as old as the American regulator and handle I later got for which I could still scrounge tips... Seriously, as a new entrant, I could not figure out what was going with Victor's product line for beans. My fault, or the Victor's?
Which brings me to what I think Victor's biggest problem is: Welding Shops. I have shopped at dozens, and currently hold accounts at three. Except for the one that I actually like and shop at (not for their prices, as I am reminded when I remember to check), most of the staff at the rest of them are either A- egotistical knuckleheads who don't know shit about anyone's shit except their own (and it must be shit, otherwise they would still be welding, right?) or B- the idiots they hire at accounting who somehow escape from the office and wind up at the counter.
So as a newbie, say with a JC welding class or two and some random coat rack-type of projects under your belt, you go into a shop all fired up to make something else out of scrap, with a budget of like say 35 bucks for tools and maybe 5 bucks for consumables, and the guys behind the counter treat you like an idiot.
Well, you may well be an idiot, but as a newbie you have the right to this state, plus you are not only still a customer (however stupid, as customers always are), but very likely one with either a lifelong hobby or a decently long career ahead of you, and any shop worth a crap in the sand should be able to get their counter help to recognize this opportunity and claim your ignorant loyalty ASAP!
Instead, they likely dish out an inferiority complex, explain nothing, and possibly sell nothing. Said "idiot' goes home, figures out they can ream their #2 tip into a #6 for free instead of blowing a hundred bucks on a rosebud, and makes that molten puddle of puke they always dreamed of. The alternative scenario that I think would be more constructive is that some well informed guy could have educated the newbie into parting 75 bucks for the rosebud that will be far more useful and generally more appropriate than what some people try to make a #6 work for, with the $25 dollar incentive used to get the newbie to sign up for an account, even if it's a cash account....
If this happened more often, it would probably be because Victor sent an instructional video to the STAFF of the welding store, and then sent them an offer for free beer in return for some indication that the staff had actually glanced at the DVD.
Really, those yellow pamphlets Victor published that gave the barebones about oxy-acetylene welding were the bomb- I'm sure they saved many a life, and did much to explain via the charts what was going on in their line. But it took experience to appreciate those charts, and there was nothing there really inspiring me to get a decent new handle to accommodate a reasonable range of those tips and attachments. Instead as time went by I rebuilt my American (brand name, thought they were cool since they were made in San Francisco) single-stage regulators, and soldiered on with my half assed line of drooping and popping tips. Oh, dual stage regs don't creep? Might have been nice to know, but knuckleheads and skinny pamphlets don't help me or Victor sales. Course, turns out Victor used to be made in SF too, but I hear that they themselves are now made overseas, so maybe I made the right move after all- at least I kept some regulator rebuilders in Redding afloat for a day (15 years ago).
Now the competition has caught up while we've been slacking off, and I'm an uncommitted buyer. I wonder who will win if my Ol' Glory gives up the ghost? It's anyone's guess....
Honestly though, I am too much of a snob to own anything w/ a Century brand name on it that cost me more than $7.99, so it probably won't be HF.
Probably won't be Victor either.