Around New England

Central Massachusetts Knife Manufacturer Celebrating 200 Years

May 27, 2018

Dexter-Russell Inc. has its roots in a knife-making business Henry Harrington started in a shed behind his home in Southbridge, Masssachusetts in 1818.

The company has gone through acquisitions, mergers, and name changes, but it is still making knives in Southbridge, where it employs more than 200 people, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

The knives, which undergo extensive shaping, heating, and cooling, take about 10 weeks to make, with hand crafting involved. Many of the knives go to restaurants and to meat and seafood processing plants.

Company officials use automation where possible, but they say they’ve never laid off an employee because of it. Instead, they retrain him to do something else.

Profit-sharing has also been a boon to the company, which allows employees to contribute up to 20 percent of their salary to their retirement fund with a generous match from the company.

The company’s biggest problem? A shortage of skilled labor.

“We’re reaching down to develop relationships and to foster people coming up from lower levels of the industry and the trade schools,” said president and chief executive officer Alan Peppel, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

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