How Portland Became The Knife Center Of The United States 

When you think of Portland, Oregon, a few things might come to mind and strange things at that. It could be the famous hub for a particular shoe brand, its highly creative advertising agencies, the myriad of outdoor companies, or maybe the “weird” people who make the vibrant food and art scene. But a lesser-known fact is that Portland is home to the knife industry in the United States.

Whether they’re headquartered here or made here, most blades pass through Portland. As one of the early companies to open our doors, we’re proud to call Portland our home and continue the legacy of American-made craftsmanship.

Gerber wasn’t the first to knife party, but we’ve sure made a big impact on the industry in town. Henry Brands was the first to start making knives in 1919 and began supplying knives for local salmon fishermen. 20 years later, Joe Gerber, an ad agency man, decided to pivot to the knife market, selling culinary knives, eventually becoming one of the top brands for outdoor and military knives.

As Gerber grew, so did the knife industry in Portland. Suppliers, machinists, factories, and the infrastructure made it a hub for big brands, along with smaller artisan knife makers who got their start at making blades with companies like Gerber.

Many well-known knife makers have walked the Gerber’s halls. The first designer to work for Gerber was David Murphy, who made the first knives that got us into the business. As the years passed, a few more notable designers like Pete Kershaw and Al Mar would cut their teeth before venturing out to start their own endeavors.

Even today, Portland continues to be a knife hub for the country. What started as a few pioneers taking their shot at new business has grown into a thriving industry estimated to employ nearly 2600 people in the region. As one of the first companies to open their doors in Portland, we’re proud to have played a significant role in the industry for knife makers, big and small in this legendary city.

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