Whether it’s a flagship Sebenza blade gliding through knotted paracord, the precise trimming of a bog oak wood inlay, or the decision to relocate their business halfway across the world, “think twice, cut once” is more than just the Chris Reeve Knives motto, it’s a guiding pillar of the business.
In January of 1984, tool and die maker Chris Reeve, alongside his partner Anne, began making knives in a one-car garage in Durban, South Africa. Since then, the company has grown into a globally recognized manufacturer of high-quality folding and fixed-blade knives, with Anne at the helm of the business.
“We’ve been in the United States since 1989,” said Anne. “We knew that if we were going to make a success of this business, we had to follow the market, technology and opportunity. After about 36 hours in Boise we decided to put down roots, and 30 years later we’re still here with a full production facility.”
Growing and maintaining any business for more than three decades is no small feat, but Anne said that by focusing on product function, customer service and maintaining close relationships with a worldwide network of dealers, Chris Reeve Knives continues to find success.
“All of our knives have been designed by Chris or in collaboration with a good friend, custom maker and designer, Bill Harsey,” Anne said. “Each knife is designed for everyday work and they’re immediately identifiable as our knife. There’s a certain aesthetic about them that’s synonymous with our brand. They’re collectible items, but they’re also fully functional.”
Other than the production of steel blanks for handles and blades, Chris Reeve Knives are manufactured in southwest Boise by a team of nearly 40 employees who have harnessed their skills to produce a line of knives that has earned countless Manufacturing Quality and Knife of the Year awards. According to Anne, their award-winning standards have been engrained throughout the fabric of the company since its inception.
“It’s important to go into manufacturing with very high standards, but to also remember that you don’t know squat,” she said. “But if you’re not afraid to ask questions and you surround yourself with good people and you use the resources you have, you’ll make it through. You don’t have to do it all on your own.”
The collaborative mentality that drives Anne is a primary reason why her company became an early member of SWIMA. With access to pooled resources, like-minded individuals, tours and classes, companies like Chris Reeve Knives don’t have to navigate Idaho’s manufacturing industry alone.
“We’ve stayed on as a member because the manufacturing industry here needs continuous representation. We don’t necessarily have the resources available in larger states, so the more united we can be, the better.”
Alongside her son Tim, Anne continues to ensure Chris Reeve Knives plays an essential role in the future of both knife-making and Idaho’s growing manufacturing community.
“We’ve always pushed the envelope and we’ll continue to raise the bar for quality, excellence and innovation.”