Spartan Blades, headquartered in Southern Pines, is known in the knife industry for being a cut above the competition, crafting premium fixed and folding knives that have captured awards and won over fans across the country.
A newly announced joint venture — Pineland Cutlery — with New York-based Ka-Bar Knives is going to help bring its lofty price point down to earth and expand its distribution footprint.
Spartan Blades co-founder Curtis Iovito anticipates the company’s new capacity will double production, from 500-600 knives a month to as many as 1,000 a month — to start.
Iovito began making knives as a young U.S. Army sergeant, while serving at Fort Lewis in Washington state. In 1997, he met fellow Special Forces soldier Mark Carey when both were serving as snipers for a counter-terrrorism unit station in Southeast Asia. The men were later sent to Fort Bragg and, following retirement, they founded Spartan Blades in 2008.
Initially they began crafting combat knives from a barn and workshop on Carey’s property in Aberdeen, then moved to the former LobSteer restaurant on U.S. 1 near West Wisconsin Avenue. Spartan Blades and Pineland Cutlery will operate from the Southern Pines headquarters.
“We are local. We are not leaving,” Iovito said.
Four years ago, Spartan and Ka-Bar first collaborated on a limited release — a knife called the Spartan EK dagger — that proved popular. Only 400 were made.
“They evaporated,” Iovito said. “It was meant as an introductory fun project and they sold very quickly.”
When Spartan began looking for ways to expand production, the owners looked to Ka-Bar’s expertise.
Founded in 1898, the Olean, New York-based company produces military, hunting, sporting, utility and outdoor survival knives. Most famously, the company created the official-issue U.S. Marine Corps fighting/utility knife during World War II. So well-known — and repeatedly copied — the term “Kabar” became synonymous with this knife pattern.
“We knew how to craft high-end knives in small batches. They knew how to do more affordable knives in larger production. So the idea was to bring it together,” Iovito said.
Ka-Bar CEO John Stitt said Pineland Cutlery is a “force multiplier” for both companies.
“We are excited to work hand and hand with Spartan,” he said.
Over the next year, three distinct product groups will be created under the Pineland Cutlery brand.
The gold line is Spartan Blades’ elite grade and will continue to be made exclusively in North Carolina using premium steel, double deep cryogenically treated and premium PVD coatings. The silver line is considered a pro-grade line — with three prototypes already designed — with all knives manufactured in either North Carolina or at the Ka-Bar facilities in New York. The bronze line will be field-grade production using international partners in friendly nations for manufacturing.
Iovito and Carey note the Pineland Cutlery logo, inspired by the Pineland “flag,” was a fun way to play up their own military ties and the heritage of Moore County, which abuts Fort Bragg, the largest military installation in the world and headquarters of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. The name also refers back to the Allegheny Mountains, where Ka-Bar is located.
“There is a lot of excitement here in the shop about this new collaboration,” Iovito said.
Spartan Blades is located at 625 S.E. Service Road in Southern Pines, near U.S. 1 and Morganton Road. The retail showroom is open by appointment only, call (910) 757-0035. To learn more about Spartan Blades visit spartanbladesusa.com.
(Original story by Laura Douglass, The Pilot 8/7/19)