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Growth Continues at Blind Horse Knives

January 7, 2013
By Larry Claypool - OVO Editor , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Working from home has its advantages, but when the work starts to outgrow the living space, something's got to give. You can only give up so much living space to a thriving business. L.T. Wright and his wife Elaine have been doing that for the last few years, as their custom knife business Blind Horse Knives has taken off beyond their dreams.

The Wright's got their home back last July as Blind Horse Knives moved into a sizable industrial building in nearby Wintersville, OH, less than five miles from their house. The move shows how well Blind Horse has progressed since 2007.

Blind Horse was the brainchild of two custom wooden staircase craftsmen, Wright, and his partner, Dan Coppins of Cambridge, OH. The two friends took a leap of faith by quitting their jobs to start their own custom knife making company. At first their spouses and children helped with the business. Growth continued and more employees were brought on, some part-time, some full-time. Then more family members came on board permanently and more workers were hired. And the living space at Wright's home continued to shrink with each order.

Article Photos

Blind Horse Knives’ co-owner L.T. Wright (left, center) shows a knife in production to OVO Pro Staffers Marvin McKenzie and Denny Fetty and OVO Graphics Designer Linda McKenzie.

From the beginning Wright and Coppins worked on knives in their respective shops about 70 miles apart. As equipment and the workforce expanded in Steubenville, Coppins' workshop in Cambridge was experiencing growing pains too. Coppins runs his shop in Guernsey County with 10 employees and Wright mans the main factory in Wintersville with 12 employees.

The Wintersville shop houses the main business office for BHK. They also operate BHK Outdoors (outdoor gear), BHK Underground (exclusive membership club), a bi-monthly magazine (Self Reliance Illustrated), five websites and record a weekly radio show (BHK Outdoors Radio) from the main hub. They also do regular podcasts, host their own knife show (Ohio Classic Knife Show in October, Cambridge, OH) and do several Virtual Knife Shows each year. The magazine is done in conjunction with The Pathfinder School and survival specialist Dave Canterbury.

There's more than a few reasons BHK has progressed so fast in a competitive market. And this progression evolved during tough economical times.

Fact Box

For additional information about Blind Horse Knives visit their website at: or call the Wintersville office at 740-434-0232.

One mainstay component that Blind Horse has committed to is making top quality products with "Made in America" materials. That's tough to do these days. And much of their raw materials come from the Tri-State region.

"We try to keep things as local as we can," said Wright during our tour of BHK in December.

A local workforce is also a benefit, according to Wright.

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Offering top quality products, good service and fair prices have helped BHK catapult to where they now stand, but Wright says they haven't shied away from trying new things and have learned from their mistakes. "We've tried to offer products people want. And we listen to our customers," said Wright.

How they listen to their customers may seem complex to some. Yes, they still work the 'grinder' circuit of knife shows. The travel to at least two shows a month. But during a new-age world of doing business via the Internet, Blind Horse Knives have not left a grind stone unturned well almost. There's a reason they operate five websites though.

Along with several talented people crafting knives in their shop, BHK also employs a few talented folks that sell and market all of their products on the world-wide web. Graphic artist and webmaster Lennon Dinda is in charge of working their sites, various others and social media forums that include; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and more. They also network with other like companies to sell products and find dealers, customers and advertisers.

BHK's networking methods have been recognized by many others in the business, so much so that a few have ask them to market their products on the web. "We'll try anything, if it's free. That's how we've built this (web presents), from trial and error. I'm surprised of how it's grown, but it really works," said Wright.

Back to the grinders in the shop.

Blind Horse offers each knife in different grinds (flat, scandi and saber are available). Depending on the knife, and its applications, different quality steels are used, including: 01, D2, A2, CPM 154 stainless and sanvik stainless. Many of the knives come with custom made leather or kydex sheaths. Leather sheaths are made by Coppins' shop in Cambridge and Kydex sheaths are crafted by Dave Corona in the Wintersville shop.

Production at the Wintersville location is run by Justin DiVittorio. Scott Wickham mans the sharpening station. Both men, along with Dinda, commute from the Pittsburgh area to the local shop.

Blind Horse's knives are used mostly for hunting and fishing, according to Wright. A few of their popular knives are the Large Workhorse, Bushcrafter and Frontier Patch. They offer several others for different uses. Visit their website for photos, details and prices. Many of the knives are built on limited runs and are numbered for collectors.

Here's a look at a few BHK hand crafted products:

The Large Workhorse knife features 5/32" D2 steel with an overall length of 8 3/8" and 3 3/4" blade. This knife comes in a scandi grind with wood or micarta handle. It sells for $160.

The Bushcrafter is made of 01 steel with an overall length of 8 1/2". The sharp edge is 3 1/2 - 3 5/8" and comes in a flat or scandi grind. It features a micarta handle and sells for $140. This "classic style bushcrafter" was designed by Tim Stetzer.

The Frontier Patch knife is made of 01 steel with a flat or scandi grind, measuring 5 1/2" overall. The cutting edge is 2 5/16". A micarta handle is featured. This handy knife - one of BHK's original designs - sells for $60.

What has been the most surprising thing about running the business the past five years? "It changes daily," said Wright. "We reinvent ourselves every day. I still love it!"

Future plans for BHK include, "We want to continue to grow. To increase our market share by building great handmade products, and to employee more local workers," added Wright. A store front shop is also in their plans.

Currently the knife maker has about 20 dealers, across the country, who sell their products. SRI magazine continues to grow with a solid, growing mail subscription base and several retail outlets in the region carry the publication. Digital copies of back issues are available for $3 on Mike Henniger is the Senior Editor at SRI. Mike Yates handles sales and Eve Sipcich, subscriptions and "all things office".

Blind Horse's special club - BHK Underground - has worked out well for the company and knife collectors. A core group of about 400 members pay $25 a year for special privileges, custom knives, Internet forums and discounts on BHK products. They also get first dibs on new products, special prices and information on events.

For additional information about Blind Horse Knives (or any of their other products) visit their website at: or call the Wintersville office at 740-434-0232.



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