Goings on in the Rachiele Factory
The back story.... You might see a company with virtually identical product offering as mine. The following story is the reason why.
The following designs and products are just some of my exclusive proprietary trademark ideas that I developed over 17 years of research and study. Sadly, Havens Metal (a company started in April of 2016) felt it was just fine to copy virtually all of my intellectual property and clone it on their website.
- Rear corner drains - I have been designing sinks with rear corner drains for over 15 years.
- Millennia Textured stainless steel sinks. I came up with this idea back in 1999 and was the only company in the world offering this as a sink material until Havens Metal copied my idea.
- The workstation sink with an interior ledge for a grid and cutting board. (Designed by a customer and myself over a decade ago)
- Sinks with two interior ledges - i have several patents on the design since 2012
- Apron farmhouse sinks with a channel behind the apron for retrofitting. I have a patent on the design since 1999
- Apron farmhouse sink where the apron is shorter than the bowl. I have a patent on the design since 1999
- 8" deep sinks that are ergonomically correct. I was the only company offering 8" deep sinks as a standard until Havens Metal lifted my idea.
- Retrofit sinks - I designed these over 15 years ago.
- Corner single bowls sinks - I designed these over 15 years ago. - Design copied by Havens Metal
- Self rimming sinks with an architectural edge profile (Designed by an architect and myself over a decade ago)
- Naturally weathered copper sink interiors. I developed the process over 17 years ago.
- The use of only domestic Copper for our sinks - I have always insisted on American Copper.
- Specialty patinas on the apron fronts of farmhouse sinks and many more designs and products.
- The Sponge Caddy accessory. (Designed by a past client and myself quite some time ago. I was the only company with such an item until Havens Metal took my idea.
- Add-a-Bowl™ and Strainer (Havens Metal just copied this idea. It makes me wonder if they have ever had an original thought)
The following story actually makes me a bit nauseous and very sad to think about and more so to write about. I had thought these folks were friends. They ended their last conversation with me with the comment: "business is business and your retirement is your problem!" This is the ugly story: In January of 2016, the owner of the local company who was building all of my sinks, since day one, indicated he was retiring and put his stepson in charge. I won't go too deeply into the details, but suffice it to say that the quality and service deteriorated quickly.
It all started when Lori (who has done our patina work for many years) inquired as to why the finishing on the sinks had deteriorated. She was having to spend many additional hours finishing the copper sinks. I found out, after the fact, that Dave had instructed the workers to cut corners on my sinks. The finishing on the stainless sinks deteriorated significantly as well. The other company told me nothing had changed and eluded to the fact that Ray (who did all of the fine finishing on stainless sinks) was still working there. (In actuality, he had been laid off) Ray later told me he suspected he was laid off due to his flat out refusal to cut corners on our sinks. I kept sending sinks back to them that were far below standards to be refinished. One sink had to be sent back twice. A copper sink was made slightly smaller than it should have been and the stock accessories didn't fit. I returned the sink only to get it back 10 days later with no alterations. They actually made a new "smaller" grid and sponge caddy to fit the mis-sized sink!) This is a quote of my email on May 23rd to them regarding that issue: "Dave, I was stunned to find that the sink you had since 5-13 that was made incorrectly was returned with no alterations at all. Your “fix” was to make smaller accessories to fit the smaller incorrect size! You may not know, but I have other accessories for that sink that now do not fit. My customers purchase sinks based on the specifications I have online. A ¼” deviation is only acceptable with imported copper sinks, not sinks with my name on them. Obviously, you felt this was an acceptable “fix” for your problem. My standards are much higher. Not only have you held up this job for 10 days, you have done virtually nothing to provide a sink to the specifications on our purchase order. I cannot have an “oddball” sink out there with my name on it." Ray was actually able to fix that sink in less than 15 minutes - a fix that "they" no longer had employees with the skill-set to even identify the problem, no less have the know-how to repair the problem. They did not bend the ledges for my Signature Series design properly, making the interior almost 1/4" too small below the ledges. Ray was able to fix the sink to perfect specifications in my office with no special tools! In the period of January 2016 to May of 2016, we had sent back more sinks with issues than in all the previous 17 years combined! The photo below is one of many photo examples of the quality we received after Ray was laid off. Ray actually came in and finished the sink properly for us before we sent it to our customer.
After about a month or two of these issues, Ray came to me to tell me that he had been laid off all this time and his former company had plans to go into competition with me by copying my designs and plans and ideas. He said he overheard discussions on how they could get around my patents. He said they had already produced at least one of my sink designs with their logo on it. I found it very difficult to believe him, as I hardly knew Ray at this point. The other company never let me have unsupervised conversations with the workers. In fact, the workers were not allowed to have phones, radios or even have general unsupervised conversations with each other according to Ray. I then asked the step son to formalize our relationship with a short paragraph sent via email. He refused to do so on April 11th. I asked to speak to his step father, who I thought was a friend. He ended the conversation abruptly telling me "business is business!" and my eventual retirement was "my problem". That told me all I needed to know. They were indeed gearing up to go into competition with me! (which could have put me out of business instantly). I later found that they had purchased their new website name in advance of this time-frame. (Update August 2017) I am having to pay for the return of a sink that was made by Vickers Metal Works (the parent company of Havens) that does not drain properly. I am going to build the customer a new sink. This sink was a large hammered stainless apron front sink. The sink was supposed to be built with a 1/4" slope from one side to the other. This was not done on this sink and it pools water on the opposite side of the drain. This sink was obviously not tested for proper drainage (as claimed) before sending to me. The sink was built in August of 2015. I am building that customer a new sink and paying for all related costs.
It appeared to me that they had long ago planned to take my designs and use them. They no longer were happy with a piece of the pie, they wanted it all. See a recent article in Fabricator Magazine talking about how we managed to put this factory together in 2 months.
I had no choice. I had to open my own factory - and fast! With the help of Ray, I was able to put together an amazing sink factory with all of the machinery and tools needed to manufacture our sinks (and more). Just before finishing the factory, Roy, Tony, Ray and Rey came to work for me - holding their pink slips from the former company. They were the original men that had been building, welding and finishing my sinks for years - in fact one of them for 16 years! From they day I discovered the need for a factory to the day we produced our first sink was less than two months. They were and still are the "Dream Team" men. They were the first string metal workers at the other company. When I hired all four men they were, and still are, in awe of the fact that they could set their own hours, have music in the shop, have the ability to talk to each other freely, carry a cell phone into the building, set their own lunch times, set their break times, and have no cameras and microphones on them all day watching and listening to their every move.
Their previous employer (now known as Havens Metal Works) has indeed gone into competition with us. They have done so by virtually copying all of my ideas. Sadly, I had spent quite a bit of time with the step son (Dave) showing him all of my "secrets" regarding web design and other marketing techniques just before all of this happened. I am generous to a fault. The things I shared took me 18 years to learn. He benefited without any effort. My entire website has been paraphrased and cloned. It appears to me they may have Photoshopped many of the images on their site. They have posted photos of sinks that I designed and sold on their site as well - giving the impression they were the originators. One such photo is an unfinished corner workstation sink that is a Rachiele sink not theirs. (shown above, installed in my customer's kitchen) This other company claims they have thousands of sinks installed throughout the country. That comment is very deceiving. Those thousands of sinks were not their sinks. They were designed, sold and are still warrantied by Rachiele. Technically, they do not employ all of the people that built my sinks back then. The skill-set of Rachiele's four men are critical to building sinks with the precision I insist on. Yes, they built thousands of sinks for me, based on my designs with workers that now work for me. They even had the audacity to repeatedly (to the point she was feeling harassed) call Lori and offering her the moon to work for them because they could not find anyone qualified to do patina work. I received a similar call from our past patineur that lives in Louisiana. They wanted her to drive to Florida once a month, pick up sinks, finish them, then return. My patina and finishing work has evolved over 17 years of hands-on experience. Imagine getting a sink installed and having finish issues! I am certain no other company (anywhere) has the years of experience in patina and top coating aprons that we do. Copying without knowing "why" is dangerous.
They have told prospective buyers that they built my sinks for nearly 20 years. That comment is a bit deceiving. Havens Metal Works never built any of my sinks. His father's company (by another name) built my sinks. Havens current workers were not the fine workers that made and finished my sinks. They work for me now, so there is no real connection at this point. These are the conditions reported to me by the men that that worked under Dave Havens. No phones or radios allowed. Alarm bells rang when you had to be at your station. Talking amongst workers was frowned upon during work hours. Workers were told they were not allowed to speak to me when I came to pick up sinks. Ray had worked there for 16 years and we may have had three short conversations in that entire time. Cameras and microphones were installed at each work area to monitor their work. GPS's were installed in company vehicles. The list goes on... The first item I purchased for our new factory was a boom box for the guys.
I found it sad when we met just before opening the factory to hear these questions. 1. What time should we come to work in the morning? My answer: Whenever you like. 2. When do we take breaks during the day? My answer: Whenever you wish to.3. When and what time do we have lunch? My answer: Whenever and as long as you wish. 4. Are we allowed to have phones? My answer: Of course 5. One of us has small children. Will he get in trouble if he comes in late? My answer: Of course not. 6. Are we really allowed to watch TV during lunch? My answer: That is one of the reasons I have cable in your office. I treat my men like I would like to be treated. All of the scrap copper and stainless is theirs to sell. They make thousands of dollars doing so. Other shops keep that money for themselves.
Not once has any one of these fine men taken advantage. The exact opposite is true!
Havens has at least two or three fake testimonials on Houzz.com (They may have removed one or two by now). Two of the sinks that are shown as belonging to "customers" actually belong to the owners of the company. I have the original photos of those sinks that were emailed to me by the owners of that company showing the sinks in their kitchens. The first testimonial is the owners' parents' kitchen sink. The second one is oddly written by Alex with no photo and the exact name of the owners' son. If you look at Alex's profile on Houzz.com, it is virtually empty! (that testimonial was recently removed) The fourth photo says the project was done in April of 2016, however I have the exact same photo on my computer sent via email to me by them from more than a decade ago.
I had no intention of telling this story until I saw all of the intentional misleading information that was being propagated. Buyers should be informed of fact, not fiction.
June 10, 2016 - First sink produced in our new factory.I have to say that even I am amazed how fast we were able to open up a new sink factory. From the moment of concept, to producing our first sink, less than two months went by. In that short period, we had to find the perfect location, do quite a bit of renovation, research, and order high tech machinery as well as a host of other items - and produce our first sink.. Almost everything we are using is brand new.
This amazing feat could not have been accomplished without our Dream Team and the help and support of Debbie Jensen, and my most amazing supporter, Lisa!
Update June 10, 2017It has been one year to the day that we produced our first sink in our new factory. Se have built almost 600 sinks in that span of time. It has been a great year. We all appreciate the continued support of past clients and friends. A special thanks to the team that made this all happen!
Update May 26, 2017
I will be working at the office most of the Memorial day weekend and will be even more conscious than normal that the men and women of our military have sacrificed their lives for our safety and way of life. We have been quite busy lately and this will be a good change for me to do some updating to the web site and catch up on the things that just get put off when we get very busy.
Update May 8, 2017A huge article was written about the men in my shop by The Fabricator Magazine. The FABRICATOR is North America's leading magazine for the metal forming and fabricating industry. You can read it here.
Update March 27, 2017Our sales have been quite robust lately. I stopped by the shop this morning and took a couple of videos. I hope you enjoy them!
Update February 25, 2017Ray and I just returned from Chicago. We were looking at a fiber optic laser machine. It will cut through one inch thick steel, copper, brass, bronze, and stainless. While we were there, we were shown a robotic welding machine. The factory touted two major benefits. 1. No rod is needed for welding. The laser fused the stainless together without adding a rod. 2. The weld is small and uniform. After seeing the finished product, I turned to Ray and asked "Isn't Tony's weld better than that and can't he weld like that without using rod?" Ray smiled and said he sure can and his weld is actually better. Every time someone visits our shop and sees Tony's welding, they find it difficult that it was done by hand. Every copper and stainless sink that leaves our shop is welded by Tony Davis! It is an honor to have Tony as part of the Dream Team!
Update February 9, 2017We have been working on two gorgeous hoods. One is copper and the other is a combination of two types of stainless. The copper one is ready and the stainless one should be ready tomorrow. We will post photos on Facebook soon.
We have given quite a few factory tours lately. We gave one to the owner of a huge factory (100,000 sf) up in the Atlanta area. He said he was extremely impressed with the shop and all of our metal workers. He was particularly impressed with the stainless steel welding by Tony Davis. So impressed, that he is sending us contract work that he is doing for the aerospace sector.
Update January 11, 2017Happy New Year everyone! We sure had a great 2016. I hope you did as well. We have some expansion plans in the works. This is going to be an even better year than last year. We will be showing a photo of our first stainless steel Signature Series Corner Sink soon.
Update December 27, 2016What a year we had! Sales soared beyond my wildest dreams. Our new factory has enabled us to produce a higher quality product while speeding up lead times. It is that time of year to be thankful and to pay it forward. This year we brought donuts and bagels for 50 fine Apopka Police department workers. We also left paid gift cards at the local Race Trac gas station and instructed the workers to use them for anything police officers would like during the holiday. We hope this inspires you to do a little something for those who do so much for us. We have a Christmas show for you courtesy of Elon Musk of Tesla.
Update November 17, 2016Ray is in Las Vegas at the Fabtech convention. It is North America's Largest Metal Forming, Fabricating, Welding and Finishing Event. He is looking for new equipment and tools to make our factory even more efficient.
Update November 16, 2016Wow, something is going on! Sales are through the roof. We are breaking all kinds of records. It's a good thing I have the Dream Team building our sinks and Lori finishing them. We are keeping up with all orders!
Update November 2, 2016
We just opened an account in Ireland. They will be ordering several sinks a month from us. We are sending the first batch out later this week. We do not allow dealer sales in the U.S. because our sink designs are very custom and easily misunderstood. The dealer in Ireland will be ordering very simple under mount copper sinks.
While we are talking about international shipments, we have sold two sinks in Australia in the past 30 days. One was delivered yesterday and the other will ship soon.
Update September 27, 2016
We are nearing our 200th sink since we opened our new factory in Mid June. Nothing like turning in an order for a sink and getting it the next day! Our team is amazing! We had a sink that was damaged in shipping (the first one in years). I gave Ray the order for the sink yesterday and his son (Rey) brought it over to our office this morning. Lori has the patina finished and lacquered on the apron. Tomorrow she will patina the bowl and it will ship - less than 48 hour turnaround.
Update September 14,2016
Thankfully, things have gone so well we are able to take the trip and we were able to actually pay off 2/5ths of the equipment loans last month along with paying for a new piece of equipment. Business is robust and I am so thankful to our team for all they do.
Update September 8, 2016
We have built and sold over 150 sinks since we opened in Mid June. In some cases we have been able to turn around orders in 24 hours and still keep our normal lead times down quite a bit from past history. The new factory has allowed us to drastically improve the quality of the overall products we produce.
Fun stuff in the factory coming soon.We have a large grassy fenced in area adjacent to the factory. We are going to add a covered picnic table and grill so the men can enjoy some "home cooked" meals during lunch time. That being said, the beer in the refrigerator is not touched until closing time.
Funny Story!A couple of weeks ago, I brought a local customer to the factory to give a tour. When I arrived, I saw nobody in the shop. I looked, from a distance, through the window in the office and the lights were turned off. Hmm... I wonder what was going on. Well, I continued with the tour and it lead us to the office. I opened the door and there were all four guys eating lunch with the lights out watching television. They have been on a binge watching "That 70's Show" during lunches. What a laugh I had.
One of the amazing machines we have acquired is a Turret Punch. This machine will hold an entire sheet of copper or stainless steel - allowing us to "nest" sinks and accessories in a computer program that controls this machine. Generally, Roy Cazares and Rey Uvalle do the programming for this sophisticated computer aided machine. The Turret Punch cuts out the shape of all sinks and accessories with extreme precision. It also stamps the Rachiele name on our copper and stainless steel sinks. Once the metal is cut to shape, it goes to our Auto Brake.
Below, see our Auto Brake in action - forming a perfect 90 degree bend in our first stainless steel sink. This machine makes the contours in the bottom of the sinks to allow for proper drainage, as well as bending the long sides of the sink. The short sides of the sink are formed on a different machine. Roy Cazares is at the helm here. Rey Uvalle will often do this work as well.
The Betenbender Press Brake requires specialized tooling for all of the nuances of our sinks. If you look closely to the left, you will see special custom tooling that is 6 feet long that forms the ledges inside our Signature Series Sinks and our Evolution Sinks. To the right (the black tooling) precision tools are used to make the last two bends to form the short sides of the sink. Roy and Rey generally do the work at this machine.
This is a photo of a stainless double bowl apron front 54" sink that is ready for welding.
A couple of copper sinks in the process of being shaped into their permanent form.
From here, the sinks are welded by Tony Davis.
When the sink is all formed and welded, it is taken to a 75 ton press that has a custom made specialized tool to press the shape of the drain. I designed this tool to fit better than the typical ones you see. If you take a look at your drain, you will see an area around the drain or disposal flange where food and other items can be caught. Our press was designed to eliminate that area so the drains fit snugly.
Once the drain is pressed, the sinks go to the finishing department headed up by Ray Uvalle. This is the first sink finished at our new facility. At this point, the sink is brought to our other facility for patina work done by Lori Sabina.
We have a very sophisticated software program that allows us to "nest" (group) sink shapes, apron shapes, grid shapes and sponge caddy shapes on one sheet of copper. There is very little wasted material when we do this. Below, see one of the two 27" screens in our factory office showing two sinks, an apron, three grids and four sponge caddies.
I am not positive, but I am fairly certain we are the ONLY copper sink company in the world that produces custom copper sinks using pure DOMESTIC copper. If another company makes that claim, ask to see a copy of the certification. A certification letter comes with EVERY shipment of copper and stainless no matter where it is produced. Make sure it is a recent copy with a date from the supplier on it. There are some companies that hold "one" certification and show that for all subsequent orders even though the latter orders are using imported copper. It is easy to find copper outside the U.S. Frankly, the copper is cheaper too. I trust USA copper and offer it exclusively to you. This is a batch of copper that came in. You can see that it states it is domestic copper.
This is our first Rustic Matte Stainless steel corner sink.
Produced on September 13th, 2016