I've been playing Hamers since the very early '80s, and have owned many dozens of them over the years. I've also had my fair share of Strats. The "go-to" guitar that never sees the inside of the case is my #1 Daytona. They are simply amazing guitars that can be had for the price of MIJ Strats. It's insane, but that's (fortunately for some of us!) the way the market rolls.
By the way, Hamer does not have a "Custom Shop". They never have. They ARE a custom shop. There have been no real changes to things since FMIC purchased Kaman's musical division (Hamer, Ovation, etc.) in December, 2007. Same people are there, no expansion, and they're letting Jol (DO NOT CALL HIM "JOEL"!! :D ) run things as he was doing before. The only real difference up in New Hartford is that they've added some additional machines and workers to do the Tacoma stuff. Hamer is still putting out high quality, low-production guitars, and at maybe 3 a day (depending on the day), they're really a small shop and have been since the move from Arlington Hts back in '97.
If you're looking for more info on Hamers, want to find some from people who know 'em or just want to drool over some, check out the Hamer Fan Club site : Hamer Fan Club
. The only site out there where you'll get accurate historical info. and real information on these guitars.
My "Tronned" '96:
A '94 I sold not too long ago: