MONS Correspondent Marty Kauchak files this end-of-the-day report from the Modern Day Marine Exposition at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.
Glistening steel from its product showcase and enthusiastic, prospective customers in que attracted this author, while walking down the exhibition hall aisle, to the Spyderco booth. The Golden, Colorado-based supplier of knives and accessories was at the conference showcasing about 250 of its knives. “We’re here for brand awareness, and to educate the delegates – about who we are, about our products and to tell them why we are different,” Kristi Hunter, the company’s Digital Media and Marketing Administrator, said.
Spyderco’s portfolio has evolved to keep pace with the military customers’ requirements, which are as simple as opening a meal ready-to-eat container, or for higher end needs – self-defense and protection, and others. “And most Marines are outdoorsmen,” the Sector Expert added, noting the need to expand its offerings to this market segment. Spyderco is a “fairly small” company with about 100 employees. “We have one mantra: we are not in business to be a big business, we are simply in business to build the best knives,” the Corporate Media Leader said.
As a collateral benefit of being small, the company’s culture permits it to better support service members beyond selling a product, up to donating products by way of lottery to deployed service men and women. Spyderco manufactures about 30-35% of its products “in house,” the highest percentage ever at its Golden plant, in part, due to its recent facility expansion. The company relies on non-US suppliers for the others, with these latter items carefully “quality controlled in Golden.” Mrs. Hunter emphasised the company’s product portfolio remains dynamic, with the firm annually offering between 40 to 50 new models. The industry expert also noted collaboration is a key part of its business strategy. “We also collaborate with custom knife makers – it is difficult for some to afford a true custom knife, which may range in the thousands of dollars.”
One successful collaboration is with Fred Perrin, a Parisian custom knifemaker, a former French Army Commando and a world ranked martial artist, who provides his Street Beat light weight, fixed-blade knife. “Released earlier this year is the return of our AQUA SALT series. The series is made of H1 steel (‘H1’ marked on the blade). Each one is rustproof, it is chemically impossible to rust a knife made with H1,” Mrs. Hunter said and concluded that while Syperdco is innovative with its knife offerings, it also pushes the technology envelope in its machines and manufacturing process –to use the best-of-breed steel as necessary.