Our exclusive interview with WorkSharp, makers of one of the most popular knife sharpeners on the market, the WSKTS.
1. How did WorkSharp get involved in the knife sharpening business?
Darex, the makers of Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpeners has been a sharpening focused and family owned business since 1973. We engineer and manufacture a wide range of sharpening equipment (including Darex and Drill Doctor brand drill bit sharpeners
), so it was a logical step for us to innovate knife and tool sharpeners. Being in Oregon, we are also a culture of knife & tool users, hunters
and outdoor adventurers so it was also a familiar market for us to enter.
Work Sharp WSKTS Sharpener
2. What were the biggest difficulties when you started?
Legitimizing flexible belt technology. While using abrasive belts is common place for knife makers and manufacturers, our technology was like no other consumer sharpening product, so it required demonstration and education. Seeing is believing, so once we got out into the marketplace and demonstrated our sharpener, people saw the performance and value. Then they told a friend about their amazing new sharpener
…and it grew quickly from there.
3. What do you think distinguishes you from other businesses in the sharpening business?
Our technology and our customer service. We do not develop “me too” products. Instead we innovate and change the game so that sharpening becomes faster and easier, without compromising performance. And our customer service is top notch. If a customer has an issue with one of our products we take care of them. Listening to and engaging with our customers provides endless insights to how we can improve.
4. What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing at the moment?
Choosing the next product to bring to market. We have a stable of brilliant people who innovate and listen to our customers. When combined, we have a wealth of new product ideas that solve real problems for our customers. But as a small business, we need to be very focused and efficient about our new product efforts and investments.
5. What’s the most popular product that you sell?
The original Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener (WSKTS) remains our biggest seller. It’s features and price point reach the largest part of our market and is widely distributed.
6. Are you still improving your products? How?
Always. “Continuous Improvement” is a core value here at Darex and we live it every day. We actively listen to our customers and respond to many of their requests. ‘Fast, Easy to Use and Works Every time’ is our mantra so we are always striving to achieve that goal and then improve on it even more. As an example, I am in the process of updating our WSKTS users guide based on customer feedback.
7. What would you recommend to a beginner knife sharpener? What’s the best way to start?
Research, research, research. There is no single best way, this is a choice all knife owners have to make. What type of knives do they own? Where will they want / need to sharpen? How much money and time are they willing to invest? What level of sharp are the wanting to achieve? What experiences are their family and friends having with their sharpeners? Once those questions are answered, the beginner can then proceed into the market place and better assess the various ways to sharpen a knife to make a good buying decision. That said, most beginners benefit greatly from angle guides during the learning curve and all Work Sharp products provide this feature.
8. What equipment would you recommend to a beginner knife sharpener?
All of our products provide angle guides and a wealth of instructional material so they are all easy to learn and use. The choice then becomes a power sharpener or a manual sharpener. A great first time sharpener is the Guided Sharpening System (WSGSS
). It delivers a great value and provides the learning aids for the newbie to be successful. Once that base skill is learned
, the sharpener can be expanded to meet a skilled sharpeners
needs. It’s a sharpener for everyone and it teaches you how to sharpen manually. A good life skill for all knife owners. Though, the same is true of our original Knife & Tool Sharpener – its fast, easy and priced right. So it comes back to the customers research and making the best choice for them.
9. What’s the most common mistake beginners make?
Oversimplifying the process is a common mistake – not understanding cutting edge geometry and the process of creating a burr when sharpening creates barriers to success. Understanding these two principles quickly demystifies sharpening and our product user guides provide this education in addition to the standard ‘how to use the product’ type information.
10. Tell us something people might be surprised to learn about Work Sharp.
We have been a sharpening focused company for over 40 years and live by our core values. One of which is “Love & Respect” and it helps create a culture of openness. These are not common words to be seen and felt in a manufacturing business. But they are true for us and it comes through to our customers when they experience our products and service.