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Kershaw History

The knife industry has changed a lot in 40 years. But ever since Kershaw started, the brand has maintained a commitment to quality.

Pete Kershaw starts his company

Kershaw’s founder, Pete Kershaw, knew the importance of guaranteed quality. The outdoorsman often used knives for hunting and fishing. In the late 1974, he decided to start his own knife company at a cement plant in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

During that time, the company mainly created hunting knives. To guarantee top quality, Pete searched for a premier supplier to produce the product.

A partnership is born

On the other side of the world, Kai had been crafting bladed tools for over 65 years and was known for its quality. Then-president Saijiro Endo II was focused on exporting Kai products to other countries, including the American market. Kershaw and Kai’s paths converged, and the two have been linked since.

The modern era

The 1990s would later mark the end of the classic era for Kershaw. This time period introduced many modern features that are still seen today. In 1995, the brand released its first liner lock knives, fittingly called the Liner Action series.

Back in Japan, Kai CEO Koji Endo believed there was even more potential for Kershaw to grow. In 1996, Endo invested in an American production facility at Kai USA’s Wilsonville base. He believed that this would help Kershaw reach its full potential. And soon, Kai USA hired a new production team for the job.

After Pete Kershaw retired from the industry, Jack Igarashi was appointed as the new COO of Kai USA. Igarashi brought a fresh mindset to Kai USA with the goal of always delivering quality, technology, and innovation. With this in mind, Kershaw’s USA manufacturing team searched for something new to shake things up.

Industry-changing technology

The answer? A new way to open a knife. Kershaw’s SpeedSafe® assisted opening mechanism changed the industry landscape forever. The technology was introduced in 1998 and immediately won accolades from the industry and the public. Although Kershaw later introduced other opening methods, SpeedSafe remains popular and an important part of Kershaw’s identity.

Innovating for tomorrow

Today, Kershaw continues to innovate with new designs and technologies at its Tualatin, Oregon facility. Whether its smooth KVT opening, groundbreaking Kershaw Original designs, or collaborations with custom knifemakers, Kershaw remains dedicated to taking things to the next level.