Well, I'll bet that third company repairs dings, small cracks and chips in the rough products coming from the milling company . Certainly there is a point past which something is determined to be unacceptable and they'd reject it and follow up. That's interesting thet Lakland contracts it out. Look, Ric isn't perfect and all of us who worked there had our criticisms of how things were done but over time my respect for that company has gone UP for many reasons. First of all, Rick has never sold out. It's the same company since the 60's (maybe before). Rick has never issued low grade Squire versions of their product. When you see a Rick you don't have to ask is this a Japanese, Korean, Singapore, Mexican, Tex-Mex, USA, Custom Shop, Private Reserve, Secret Stash or any BS like that. It's a Rick. Made in USA. They don't contract out their manufacturing either. They do it all in their factory. They don't have different grades of components. They're all top grade. They have their OWN products. Their own designs. They didn't copy Leo Fender's brilliant designs. They came up with their own unique, brilliant, high quality designs. They've been in style and out of style but they hung in there with their own stuff and didn't chase every fad and trend (at least not too much). They've also resisted the temptation to screw up their own classic designs. Fender isn't Fender and Gibson isn't Gibson and Ampeg isn't Ampeg but amazingly, Ric is still Ric. I also respect Ric for beating back the clones with lawsuits back in the 80's. Right on! They had every right to do that and I think more companies should. Fender and Gibson changed hands so many times and ran themselves on the rocks and made crummy stuff and let clones proliferate to the point that they just suck. Also, Ric has many EXTREMELY high quality features. The Ric finish is probably the best there is. I know this process first hand and it is done right in many layers. Also, the neck thru design and hard maple give the Ric bass unusually good note balance. Unlike Fender-derived designs, the high notes come out just as strong as the low ones. Also, unlike Fender-derived basses, the high frets don't tend to buzz more due to neck relief ending before the high frets (like Fender types). There are goofy things on the Ric (like the treble pickup mount and its derivation from the old steel guitar horseshoe) but every attempt I've seen to "fix" them just ruins the classic Ric design so I say leave it in and thankfully, the Ric powers that be agree. That's where the issue with the treble pickup angle comes from. If they just rounted out a hole in the wood or mounted it on a pickguard, it would always be perfectly straight, look like ass and nobody would like it (including me). So they've kept the old assembly with all its production vulnerabilities.