Smithey’s resident Quality Control Czar and a longtime cast iron collector shares his thoughts on the value of high standards.
What is your day to day role?
I usually start my day by checking the pans coming off the line one last time to make sure everything is perfect. We call it the Three Second Rule around here—you glance at a finished Smithey and see if any imperfections jump out at you immediately.
What are you looking for?
I notice a lot in those first three seconds. I check to see if the finish and seasoning are right. How blue does it look? I look at the grind to make sure everything is symmetrical. I look for chips and any other issues that indicate the pan doesn’t meet our standards. You know, every pan is unique, kind of like a snowflake, so they are going to be slightly different, and that’s ok—they just have to be perfectly unique.
What percentage of pans pass your inspection?
I’d say 90-95% of the pans that I see go through to shipping, but as the de facto gatekeeper I’m always looking for anything that might not meet our customers’ expectations. These pieces are special and we take great pride in what we create. I think about me opening this box, putting myself in the recipient’s shoes: If I had invested in this piece and it didn’t arrive and exceed my expectations, I’d be disappointed. And we don’t do disappointment. If people didn’t want the best, they’d go somewhere else.
Your passion for cast iron goes deep, and dates back longer than your tenure at Smithey, right?
I lived in Seattle for 14 years and developed a passion for hunting for pieces of old cast iron. They tell stories. I started doing research into what made the great pieces of the past great and scooped them up, got any build up off, reasoned them, and then added them to my collection. Anyone who knows and appreciates cast iron knows that not only are they amazing new, but they also get better and better over time. And that’s what motivates not just me but the whole team here—we’re continuing that tradition and creating the next batch of heirlooms that some future treasure hunter will seek out and cherish, too.