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September 25, 2008

Interview with Robin Lee

Robin Lee




If you're on any of the woodworking forums around the Internet and asked a question to the group about Lee Valley Tools, or Veritas Tools,, you undoubtedly received a direct response from the President of the company, Robin Lee. And if you've ever bought any tools from the company (and if you haven't, you're doing yourself a disservice) you'll get that same down home friendly service. This is no surprise coming from a company whose philosophy on customer service is to "treat each customer like they're your friend".

Lee Valley has bee making some of the best woodworking, hardware, and garden tools in the business for the past 30 years.

Rob may be President of a large corporation but that doesn't mean that he just sits behind a big desk pushing paper. In fact Rob holds several patents on woodworking tools and is very active in new tool development.

Here are some of the topics that we covered during our interview:

  • The first product that Lee Valley shipped (hint: It's not a woodworking tool).
  • Why the customer base in woodworking differs from any other business out there (this one will make you proud to be a woodworker).
  • What does Rob Lee do in his spare time?
  • What's the best part of running Lee Valley Tools? (Hint: It has something to do with being the equivalent of a rock star!)
  • What all goes into new product development?
  • Ever wondered what the name Veritas means and why it was choosen?
  • And much, much more!
And of coarse we talk about what Rob will be talking about at this year's Woodworking in America Conference:

  • Modern Tools: Tolerances and Myths
  • How Modern Tools are Designed and Made
  • Bevel-Up vs. Bevel-Down Planes
  • Infill Roundtable: Construction, Mechanics and Use

To hear our interview with Rob Lee go Here

Please leave your questions or comments below.

Comments (7)

tom hunt:

Best interview yet! Rob sounds like a nice guy, dealing with tools and woodworking and business in a real-world environment. Next time I'm thumbing thru their catalog, I'll have a new appreciation and perspective.

Bill Signorini:

I very much enjoy the interviews and found the new listening system easy to use. Keep it up !!

L. D. Jeffries:

I've been buying "stuff" from Lee Valley for about 15 years on a pretty regular basis. This outfit is one of the "BEST" in my opinion. As Rob said, "We treat our customers as friends". Never more true words; they are in their business sense, "user friendly"! Plus, they put out a GREAT catalog(s). Thanks for the chance to hear from the guy responsible for it all.

Alex Katzn:

I've bought from Lee Valley since they started. The other day I sent an enquiry regarding one of their kichen knives.

I personally found their response rather incredible and wonder what you may think?

The enquiry and response are as follows:

----- Original Message -----
From: Lee Valley Service
To: Alex Katzn
Sent: Monday, December 29, 2008 11:01 AM
Subject: RE: Customer Web Site Inquiry

Unfortunately, we do not provide the manufacturer information to anyone in order to protect our suppliers after a considerable investment in sourcing different products from around the world. The only exception to that rule is when the supplier name is on the product, or the packaging material.


Terry Eix

Internet Customer Service Representative

-----Original Message-----
From: Alex Katzn [mailto:akatzn@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, December 29, 2008 5:09 AM
To: Lee Valley Service
Subject: Customer Web Site Inquiry


Could you please tell me who is the manufacturer of the classic Japanese kitchen knife?


Woodworkers Resource:


The message you received from Lee Valley regarding information on who manufactures their Japanese Kitchen Knives was a little short and abrupt, but I do understand why they don't disclose that information.

They keep the information on suppliers close to the vest to protect there interests. If that Information was made available to everyone then their competition could simply use that to find new suppliers without doing any of the footwork themselves.

If you're needing the information just to find out what kind of steel the blade is made from or something along those lines you could probably get an answer from Rob Lee himself. He frequents Sawmillcreek.org and Woodnet.net and is generally very quick to respond.


I love the fact that they are unique in the woodworking industry. They have items that no one else has which shows you that someone on staff is covered in sawdust. You do not see that much now a days. Keep up the good work, I will continue to be a fan and a customer.


No one ever talks about how little LV pays their employees. Those knowledgable counter staff get little more than minimum wage. For the dedication and customer service provided, LV should be embarassed into paying them more.

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