Fred Rogers found refuge from the cutthroat world of the commercial food industry in an unlikely place: the back of a truck filled with some of the sharpest knives in all of Los Angeles.
Though he made good money working with major players like Sysco and US Food Service, by the early 2000′s the former manufacturing rep had grown weary of the forced smiles and firm handshakes necessary to close his biggest deals. “I hated some of my clients,” he admits. “They were awful. And there was nothing I could do. I had no control. I was working for somebody else.”
Recognizing that he needed a change, the budding knife aficionado used his manufacturing connections to score good deals on knife sharpening tools, equipment and inventory, all of which which he used to build his impressive mobile knife sharpening workshop. By 2003, the year when Rogers officially separated from his dreaded day job, he had amassed a small, but loyal, following.
While his wife went back to work, Rogers took on the role of stay-at-home-dad, working to build his business on the days that his children were in preschool. It wasn’t easy. In the early years, both Rogers and his wife had to work harder for what must have seemed like diminishing returns. The cost of preschool also grew as the demands of the knife sharpening business made it necessary for the Rogers to send the kids to preschool full time. But those early sacrifices have paid off well for the couple.
Today, Perfect Edge Knife Sharpening has earned a sterling reputation to go along with an A-List of commercial and retail customers. Once a month, Rogers visits some of LA’s most popular destinations, sharpening knives from the back of his truck for the likes of Jar, Chateau Marmont, Soho House, and last week’s profile, Koontz Hardware. In 2009, Rogers was named Best Knife Sharpener in LA Magazine’s annual Best of issue.
Rogers makes no apologies for prices that may be double and even triple what his competitors charge. Considering a good knife set from Williams-Sonoma can set you back $2,000 or more, paying $5-$25 per month to keep them good and sharp is a considerable investment that helps to ensure they’ll last a lifetime.
And Rogers doesn’t just sharpen or repair your forged, serrated, Japanese single bevel, carbon steel, laminated, or Damascus knives. He shows you how to use, handle and maintain them, as well. “My customers understand the value I bring to the table,” he says.
As for the future of his business, this blade runner sees a number of untapped revenue streams. “There are thousands of country clubs, restaurants, and hospitals between Los Angeles and Orange County,” Rogers points out. “There is a lot out there that I haven’t even touched.”