Look sharp to cut a deal

Knife fanatic Derek Senior with a knife that was manufactured in Dunedin. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Knife fanatic Derek Senior with a knife that was manufactured in Dunedin. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
When several thousand knives go on sale in Dunedin this month, it will mark the end of a small slice of the city's manufacturing history Derek Senior moved to Dunedin in 2003, with the aim of supporting the South by ''getting a bit of industry going down here'' with his knife-making business.

''It seemed to be the fashion for everything to go north,'' he recalled.

Mr Senior's interest in knives began nearly 30 years ago, when he was running a catering business in Hastings.

He was approached by freezing workers who were complaining that some of the more popular brands of knives were not holding their edge like they used to.

He investigated and found a German knife that was finished in Australia, which he believed had all the right attributes, and he started selling them around meat processing plants in the North Island.

The realisation that many people were so used to flimsy models they could not handle a ''serious'' knife, led him on a search for a simple way to keep them sharp.

He ventured into manufacturing what was known as the Inox Sterling knife range with steel imported from Sweden.

The company was targeting meat workers and the fishing industry, along with making chef's knives. It was also exporting to Australia.

One day, a customer called to say their knife had snapped. More calls of a similar nature followed.

It turned out that the machinery was stripping the nickel from the stainless steel, but the company that had made it had already gone bust.

''It was a bit of a setback,'' Mr Senior acknowledged sagely.

While no longer manufacturing knives, he was still involved in the knife industry with his company Constant Edge, which supplied, repaired and sharpened knives, as well as doing some advising.

''I still get a buzz out of taking something that's written off and getting it back to a workable unit,'' he said.

Knives were sourced from around the world and were sold mostly to the hospitality industry, while some were still sold to the meat processing industry.

Mr Senior retained a large number of knives in stock from the manufacturing days.

They had been left for about eight years and had successfully come through the ''snap test''. If they had no nickel in them, they would have gone rusty in that time, and they had not, he said.

Now he is having a knife sale in Dunedin, starting on Monday, selling a wide range of knives, from hunting and fishing, to carving, skinning, sticking, boning and chef's knives.

The sale also included knives sourced from some friends in Hastings, to whom he sold the Inox business and who were still supplying meat works.


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