I answered "don't know" but that's sort of not quite right. I had many discussions on the phone with the distributor, Bob from KCK.com and then several discussions with the manufacturer, Kingfisher Kookers -- I sort of know them but we've never met.
Unless you're having a locally built cooker of your own design I can't see where it matters...customer service is customer service and Cookshack, or Lang, or Klose, etc. will certainly take your calls and usually come through with your question, request, problem, etc.
I've met Sikes of Sikes cooker, Myron Mixon and James Britt of the JOS/Jedmaster cookers, and a couple of guys from Tucker, Ole Hickory, Southern Pride, etc. I would not hesitate to buy a cooker from any of these even if I didn't go to the factory except to pick it up. Getting to cookoffs has helped me "know" quite a few of these guys...for example, I had the opportunity to cook next to Fast Eddie this past weekend and his partner was CEO/pres of Cookshack...does that count as "knowing" the builder??
If I was having a "custom" cooker/trailer/pod/etc. made up I'd make the additional effort to get to know "them". If, for example, I was to order a JOS hog cooker on a pod I'd say I "know" them...even though I don't "know" the welder I do know the owner of the manufacturing company and the man that has his name on the cooker. It's not so much the $$$ as getting exactly what I want on that custom cooker setup.