I had my SJs rebuilt before the sale was announced. I wouldn't think QC would be changed in this short of time. My guess is it's the culture that has been around for a while. Nick's boots broke off of white's for the same reason years ago. I've contacted them and they said they'd rebuild white's boots. I have a pair I'm going to send them to have rebuilt/converted into a ranch boot. That being said my SJs are solid.