I'm an OEM and just so happen to have a little less than 3,000 Race 297's sitting on my bench. Not in stock when I ordered them, but I have 'em now.
Since KHS is primarily an OEM supplier they know what sizes they have to keep in stock for their customers that generally order 10k+ of the same size, the bulk of which are even sized Race and CX-Rays in J-bend and straight pull. You can get odd sizes, only if you have patience, I understand not as easy if you're a shop where turnaround time is key, but that's the nature of their biz.
No doubt! As every wheel builder that is worth anything should be using proper lengths. We work in an environment that requires precise measurements of the parts we use to build a wheel, anything less would be Bush League.
They do, and have done so for over 50 years.
Yes, you're right, it is about money when it comes to small, family run businesses like KHS. Looking at it from a shop's perspective that seems a bit archaic for an importer/distro to run on a smaller scale, but they have their niche and don't want to expand sizing in their aftermarket sales unless Sapim could vastly improve their production output. KHS is an OEM supplier 1st, as is Sapim, who doesn't have the production output or marketing budget to compete with DT in the aftermarket, especially in the US. To give you an idea of how small Sapim is that some larger orders, which would be a drop in the bucket to DT, are actually made to order, custom spec spokes for mfg's.
My disagreement is with what you've had to say about KHS in your last few posts, because I've had a very good working relationship with them for the better part of my time in the industry, and I take it personally when someone has bad things to say about them if they simply don't understand their company model. A really nice family to boot that is well respected in the industry, especially amongst wheel mfg's. Whether it was in the shops, or as an OEM builder, I've always had appreciation and respect for KHS's more than half a Century of service to the US bike industry. They're a small company, and I can relate to that because I am too, so are you. Hopefully now that you know the the scope of how KHS and Sapim operate in this country, there should be no confusion there. I know why some shops are never going to be happy with KHS, because they don't understand that the aftermarket is not their main focus, how this is not common knowledge, I don't know. Not that it ever was a big secret being around as long as they have. I guess it takes a conversation with your vendor, especially the smaller ones, and taking the time to talk to them about expectations and the ability to fulfill them, rather than just shooting an order down the pipe and expecting magic to happen every time, which happens all too often.