Making it in the U.S.A: CUTCO Cutlery Corp
An in-depth look at small businesses that are choosing to keep their business in the states and what that means for their bottom line.

Making it in the U.S.A.

Name: CUTCO Cutlery Corp
Founded: 1949
Location: Olean, NY
CEO: James E. Stitt
2009 Revenue: over $200M
Manufacturing: Olean, NY
Employees: 700

From its in-house facility in Olean, NY, CUTCO manufactures kitchen knives, accessories, sporting knives and garden tools.

Click through the slides Company CEO James E. Stitt shares his story:

James Stitt

Q: What factors did you consider when deciding to manufacture domestically?

A: The decision was really made in 1949; we’re located in an area of the country with a rich cutlery heritage and an outstanding work force. It’s something that keeps us focused. We have always recognized the importance of American manufacturing.

In 1982, when ALCOA was divesting of some of their consumer products companies, the Cutco management team purchased the company, taking it private and saving the company from demise. Since then, CUTCO has grown from company generating less than $6 million to one generating more than $200 million.

Our Philosophy

Q: How has domestic manufacturing influenced your organization?

A: It’s a whole philosophy. We have many employees with more than 20 years or more of service with CUTCO. We even have an employee who’s been with us for 58 years. He started working here in 1952, just three years after we opened. All of these employees take great pride in making a high-quality, American-made product, as evidenced by their longevity with us. Also, our independent sales representatives prefer to sell American-made products. While materials made in the U.S. can cost more, we offer a great, high-quality product.

Overcoming Challenges

Q: What is one of the biggest challenges to growth as your company moves forward?

A: Pressure from overseas is an issue we can’t ignore, nor is the rising cost of health care and labor. Not only is the cost of buying domestic materials an issue, but it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for us to find competitive domestic suppliers. In fact, in 2004 we purchased Schilling Forge in Syracuse, N.Y., a custom forgings supplier. Schilling Forge assured us that we would continue to have quality U.S. forgings for the popular kitchen shears we produce.

Promoting Domestic Manufacturing

Q: What is your company doing to promote domestic manufacturing?

A: We make a concerted effort to use domestic suppliers for the raw material to manufacture our products. We encourage buying locally. We also promote wherever we can that we’re an American-made, quality product. We recently saluted our American work force on our Web site for Labor Day.

Finding Footing in the Marketplace

Q: Where is there opportunity in the market for your products?

A: As a direct seller, we’re able to personally demonstrate the high quality of our kitchen cutlery. Our one-on-one attention is not something you can do in a retail setting, so that sets us apart. Also, with the increased interest in cooking at home, we expect to see continued growth as more people look for quality, American-made cutlery that will be used to create family dinners, holiday buffets and school lunches for years to come. The high quality of product also speaks for itself and we have very devoted customers who’ve shared their love of CUTCO over the generations.

Making it in the U.S.A.

Making it in the U.S.A: CUTCO Cutlery Corp

An in-depth look at small businesses that are choosing to keep their business in the states and what that means for their bottom line.

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