Knife Business Used as an Example in New Business Book, on Radio Shows and Coming TEDx Talk

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My Georgia-based business, Hovey’s Knives of China, has been used in several types of media to illustrate the health and financial benefits of starting a company doing something you are passionate about in later life. The CDC has found what they call the “Epidemic of Loneliness” which they state is second only to obesity in leading to the early deaths of our aging population. Their message is that people with nothing that they think that is worthwhile to do, often sit at home alone and attempt to eat and drink their way out of depression, with frequently deadly results.

My knife business started when I was a pre-teen and was very interested in collector coins. One of the most interesting was the knife money of the Waring States Period in Central China. These were shaped like stylized kitchen knives, and this coinage was cast of bronze and was carried strung on strings like the square-centered bronze cash coins that are still commonly found among collector’s coins today.  Many decades later I saw some of the original knives at the International Blade Show in Atlanta and thought it would be neat to use these well-proven patterns as a basis from which to design similar knives made from modern steels for today’s cooks and Chefs.

I had known Japanese-trained bladesmith Murray Carter, and had videoed one of his knife-making classes in Oregon. He made a knife for me based on one of the Chinese knives. I took it to China and actually showed it to Chefs and cooks, where it was well received. Upon my return I started assembling knife-making equipment and built a knife shop attached to my house. I and local knife maker Paul Hjort started producing prototype blades from high-carbon saw blades and later from sheets of T-410 stainless. While we perfected our designs, I also did some 25 videos about building the shop and using the knives in my kitchen.

All these activities gave me interesting things to do, provided physical exercise and Cover Create Your Own Job Security Bestcertainly improved my mental well being after the death of my wife, Thresa, following a year-long bout with Pancreatic Cancer. I badly needed something to do and my new business provided that something and more. Being a writer, some 18 books thus far, I began to consider how to inform others of the benefits of starting a business in one’s 50s-70s and conceived of a how-to book to do just that.

Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife, was the result. I had been a store clerk, Professional Geologist (still am), decorated Combat Engineer Officer, Writer, Videographer (some 700 YouTube videos), outdoor industry Business Consultant and also operated my own store-front shop, done art, plays and stand-up comedy. This variety of life experiences with the ups and downs of the economic climate, and of life, provided me with a look at the business world from many points of view.

In my book I conceived of the concept that a person in this economy’s only true job security is what he can manage himself and hold in his own hands. That a person should start many businesses throughout his life to accomplish whatever he, or she, needed to get done. This might be to raise immediate money through e-Bay sales, but consider it as a business rather than a one-time use of an electronic pawn shop. In the meantime he should become professionally qualified in some field through college or some other state licensing certifications, and go to work in some field where he could get health insurance and benefits.

All the while, he is gaining confidence and business experience with the ultimate aim of discovering a business that he loves to do so much that he would work at it even if no one paid him to do it. This might be a non-profit business to solve some community problem, it might be in the arts where he needed to build up a portfolio to get into art galleries, this might be an invention, a new App or something in IT.  While still employed, he quietly gets his business license, copyrights, starts on his patents, starts his consulting, goes to trade meetings, etc. Then in his 40s he already has his business running quietly in the background, and if he gets a pink slip instead of a gold watch, he can kick his new venture in the tires, rev it up and roar down the highway of success towards a golden future, rather than climb down a rat-hole of dark depression to die.

It is never too early or too late to get such a thing started. If I can start a truly original business concept in my mid-70s and continue to write books, speak, etc., those of you who are decades younger certainly can too. The pre-launch publicity program for my book has had me appear on several radio shows. In past weeks I have been on the Read My Lips and  Frankie Boyer shows which are heard in the New York area.  I am booked to be on Talk With Francisca radio show in Boston later this month. In the meantime I am preparing for a TEDx talk in Wilmington (you can see my 2-minute application video at: https://youtu.be/NQyFGRFY7EE ), and I also have applications in Savannah and Atlanta for talks on different topics. I am not a shy speaker and have previously given business presentations in Vienna and China. These presentations broach a variety of topics including business, the environment and health issues.

In short, my knife business keeps me intellectually and physically active, out in the world in all respects, and I recommend to any one that starting such a venture can be your key to a longer, more productive, life. Think about it. One of the precepts that I develop in my book is that, “There is nothing in human experience that cannot be turned into profit by an inventive mind.” Select a business venture that is within your physical and financial abilities and go for it.

My book has been submitted to publishers. It may be that the E-book will be out first. It will be available for $4.99 from every available bookseller on or about July 1. The softcover will be published by Amazon.com, and an advanced order may be placed by using the form below.

Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife.

This is a business book for beginners and goes through the steps of choosing businesses to activate at various time in your life to raise money and accomplish life goals.

$19.95

 

 

Harsh Criticism Leads to Significant Changes in Product Designs

Hovey's Knife Banner

A selection of Hovey’s Knives of China Knives with many showing the oval ring grip typical of the designs. 

When you are a knife maker as well as a writer, it is sometimes difficult to take criticism of your own designs, but if you are going to sell consumer goods it makes since to pay close attention to what people say, especially if they do not like your product. In my case I have a business, Hovey ‘s Knives of China, where I take inspiration of Chinese kitchen knives made 3000 years ago in bronze and now make them out of modern steels in my shop in Central Georgia.

A distinctive feature of many of these knives is an oval ring on the end of the grip which is designed to fit in the palm of the hand and has three significant functions: A. It provides an absolutely non-slip grip. B. It permits the knife to be hung by the work station so that  it does not dull in a drawer or take up work space in a knife block. and C. It is used as a pestle to break up spices in a bowl. If a person’s hand is precisely the size to grasp the oval in the middle of the palm this design works well. However, Western cooks are taught to use knives differently with the hands wrapped around an oblate or round grip, and an end cap, if any, sticks out beyond the hand. The index finger also does not ride on top of the blade, as is useful when the oval end is grasped in the palm. Another person, a large-handed guy, said that he liked the shape of one of my smaller blades, but the entire grip was too small, with the exception of the very largest of our knives, the Cabbage and Duck Chopper which has a 11-inch blade and correspondingly large grip.

Peg Cabbage and Duck Chopper

As these are custom-made knives, I offer many custom features on the blades. These include right and left handed grinds, pencil or truncated points, and type of edge. These criticisms indicated to me that I need to also offer similar flexibility in grip designs. However authentic and distinctive my oval-ended grips might be, they are impediments to many potential consumers. The obvious solution is to offer a “Western Design Option” where this feature is removed and the grip can be enlarged or reduced. This is done by using the “hidden tang” method of construction where the tang is completely enclosed by the grips or a “partial tang” method where a portion of the tang is exposed on one or both sides of the handle.

I am going to continue to offer the grips with the Ovals as “Classic Knives,”  and with the new grip option as the “Modern Chinese Knife.” For several years we have included a sheet for a hand tracing on our order form. This redesign will allow us to make knives that fit the customer’s hand, independent of the size of the blade to allow the fullest possible range of customer options. Changes in the grip design will also allow us to reduce the price of product, sometimes by as much as $100 because of the amount of extra hand work required to finish the oval-gripped knives.

In my case paying attention to what my potential customers were saying has inspired me to sell a better product at a lessor price. Pay attention. It pays.

Hovey’s Original Knife Designs at Atlanta Blade Show Recognized by Individuals and Industry

Backyard deer hunting

Hovey at blade Show 2018

Hovey at the International Blade Show in Atlanta exhibiting his unique knives which are largely inspired by bronze knives made in China 3000 years ago and now produced in modern steels in rural Georgia for today’s cooks and Chefs.

Atlanta’s International Blade Show is one of the largest in the world and brings together representatives from knife companies, custom makers, suppliers, collectors and knife enthusiasts from all over the world. As a knife maker this gave me the opportunity to exhibit my knives, ask some pointed questions and get some useful criticisms. My knives are independently derived from ancient sources and one question I asked was, “Have you ever seen anything like these designs before?” This question was put to knife making companies, individuals who had been collectors for more than 40 years and even those who grew up in the industry. All gave the same answer.

I had succeeded…

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Media push for Hovey’s Knives and Business Book

Hovey as news anchor

I will be doing a major media push in Print Media, Radio and TV in coming months to promote my new company, Hovey’s Knives of China, new book, Ideas for New Businesses: Finding ideas for your million or billion dollar business and business consulting activities. Some of the radio materials have already been recorded such as two segments with Ric Bratton’s “This Week America” which is a news-format show originating in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, carried by 18 radio stations throughout the country.

Bratton was exposed to two of the gag ads that I used on my Radio Show, “Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures.” These were for Misty Mange, The hair-care product that you and your pet can share and SIN, Inc.’s red  white and blue turkey made from the best of “coal tars, petroleum by-products and agricultural waste” for your holiday enjoyment. The Skype video recording may be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4CJWDhthq0

If you wish to contact me to discuss your ideas for starting a new business send me a description of what subject areas you want to discuss and I will reply. If I think that I can help you advance your plan we can set of a time for an hour-long conference call where I will discuss your concept with you. I will follow up with a written report about what we considered for a fee of $200.  I can reasonably discuss consulting businesses, outdoor-related businesses, inexpensive promotion methods and locating a suitable foreign partner.

I recorded both shows at my writing station in my office after doing a mucking out. As one might suspect,  I had accumulated years worth of print photos, 35mm slides and old printed-out stories and photos that needed to be cleared out and recording the Skype video was a good-enough excuse.

As commercial items the old prints and slides are now nearly useless. Few of the editors that I write for will accept prints or slides, and those who still do will have them only if they are the photos of some historic event that I reference in the text.  Authors have limited use of these old materials when they write their books and want to show some photos of their former selves or activities.  I have already done that with my books and E-books on bowfishing, crossbow hunting and muzzleloading, and can no longer justify hanging on to these dusty folders of long-gone life events.

Hovey Wins First Place Business Award at Southeastern Outdoor Writers Conf.

Hovey Shoots a Bullseye with SEOPA Outdoor Entrepreneur Project Award

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Lakeland, Florida, Oct. 6. Hovey’s Knives of China, a new knife-making company based in Sandersville, Georgia, won the First Place Award for an Outdoor Entrepreneur Project at the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association’s (SEOPA) annual meeting in Lakeland, Florida.

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This award is sponsored by Mossy Oak Brand Camo and includes a plaque along with a cash prize. The award is part of SEOPA’s Excellence in Crafts competition where members compete in categories for the best newspaper, magazine, book, video and other media published during the contest period. The Outdoor Entrepreneur Project is unusual in that it is, “Any original activity, product or service created between the contest dates by the entrant and related to the outdoors demonstrating creativity and risk-taking, and designed to produce a profit…”

The creative aspects of the new company is that more than 15 patterns of cooking knives have been made based on ancient designs used during the Chinese Bronze Age and now made of modern materials for today’s Chefs and cooks. The designs had undergone hundreds of years of development and were used as inspiration for a series of cooking knives that are more efficient than any in use today.

Hovey's Knives of China June 2016 on pegboard

Risks in launching any new product in the culinary market are that knives are durable tools, a wide variety of styles are already available at sometimes nearly give-away prices and low-volume production custom-made knives must command premium prices in order to be profitable. For those who cannot afford costly hand-made products, many low-cost substitutes are readily available.

New cooking knives must have distinctive designs, high quality, be demonstrably functional and aggressively marketed to be successful in today’s market. A low-volume maker cannot hope to compete in price against inexpensive unlicensed copies made in China and elsewhere. Patents offer no protection in today’s knife market, as even most minor variation in design or materials may be claimed to be a new knife, and the cost of lengthy court battles would quickly consume any profit from the products.

Considering these realities, the business plan for Hovey’s Knives of China is to produce the knives and license their designs to anyone who wishes to make them for a small royalty. The knives are so distinctive as to be unmistakable, regardless of who makes them. Hovey’s Knives will recognize, display and publicize knives made under license by custom makers and larger manufacturers at trade shows and other events. This way these eminently useful knife patterns will be quickly available worldwide to anyone who wishes to make dishes of quality and character using effective tools that have ancient cultural roots.

Low cost publicity about these knives is being produced through social medial including some 30 YouTube videos about the knives on a dedicated channel, blogs (www.hoveysknivesofchinablog.co), Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other outlets. Added publicity on these knives will also result from reviews in magazines, newspapers and TV outlets.

Prototype production has begun at a new shop located in Sandersville, Georgia, and custom production of stainless steel designs will start in January, 2017, following an extensive period of product testing.

According to Hovey Smith, the company’s founder and owner, “We are now testing designs, hardening techniques, evaluating steels and production methods in the field and kitchen to make these designs. Each knife will be custom made. We have a variety of patterns and sizes to fit the users’ hands and satisfy their needs. The new designs include left and right-handed versions of chopping knives, fish-cleaning knives, utility knives, paring knives, cleavers and sushi and lox-cutting knives along with a special design for caterers.

“This isn’t all. We also have the “Billy Joe Rubideoux” line of forged knives, such as might have been made in the Lower Louisiana Delta by a fictional cook and entrepreneur from whatever materials he had at hand to make the tools he needed. Included in this group are a Chef’s and bread knife along with a sharpening steel made from an 150-year-old scythe blade and a rib flipper and forge cleaner made from a piece of lawnmower steel. A version of the “rib flipper” will be produced as a commercial product.

“We have an exciting adventure ahead of us, in bringing these eminently useful new knives to market, and I look forward to showing people how to use them to make some dishes that may not been seen for 1000 years.”

 

For additional information contact Hovey Smith at hoveysmith@bellsouth.net or call (478) 552-7455. Cooking demonstrations with the knives and media visits to the shop are available to media representatives by prior arrangement along with limited overnight housing.

 

Billy Joe’s Knives and Tools Made from Found Steels

Billy Joe Chef's
A rustic Chef’s knife made from a section of a scythe blade more than a century old and handled in Tea Olive, an uncommon American wood.

Rustic cooking tools and knives have been produced from old steel tool parts as a result of testing a new forge and other knife-making equipment at Hovey’s Knives of China’s shop in Georgia. A rib flipper and forge tool have been made from a piece of lawnmower steel, and a Chef’s knife was cut from a 100-year-old blade from a scythe.

Rib Flipper start metal
Rib flipper being heated in the author’s homemade forge.

These Billy Joe Rubideoux  products are named after a fictional character from Plaquemine Parish in the Louisiana Delta. Raised in the water-logged swamps below Lafitte, Billy Joe had a hard-scrabble existence where trips to town were infrequent. If he needed a tool, he had to make it  or do without. Working in this tradition, a rib flipper was made for turning meat on a charcoal grill and the rounded piece of left-over steel was used to pound out a forge-cleaning tool.

Billy Joe s Rib Flipper prtotype
This improvised, but useful tool has a grip that is thicker on one side so that it can be comfortably held in a horizontal position in the hand and the dogleg-shaped blade allows meat on a grill to be efficiently moved and turned.This grip is also made of Tea Olive, as are all the Billy Joe knives and tools.

The rib flipper

Anyone who cooks on a grill must turn their meat. The most commonly use tools to flip ribs, turn chickens and move chops are spatulas, tongs and forks. None of these are very efficient. A piece of steel from the bottom of a riding lawnmower had a curved shape and appeared that if it was straightened and handled would be ideal for that purpose.

The steel was heated on the forge to the point where it could be pounded flat, cut and ground. The result proved to be a somewhat dogleg-shaped object that only needed a handle to be functional. I used a piece of salvaged wormy tea olive as a fitting grip for this tool and designed an asymmetrically – shaped grip that could be held horizontally in the hand. This grip proved ideal for turning ribs and other objects on the grill and outperformed anything I had used.

As the carbon steel in the flipper easily rust, I polished it with a steel wheel and coated it with canola oil to provide a non-toxic protective coating. Square holes in the flipper’s blade provide a handy means for hanging on the sides of my smoker. More custom flippers will be made in the Billy Joe style will be made along with stainless steel adaptations  for commercial use.

The forge cleaner

After the Rib Flipper was completed a piece of steel remained which had a distinctively curved profile, similar in shape of a flattened spoon. I used this piece to clean the ashes out of my forge, which has a steel tire rim as a fire-box. This worked and needed only a longer grip to make it efficient. I wire-brushed it down to bright metal, dressed the edges with grinding wheels and drilled it for a grip. This grip would be firmly attached by four pins made from cut-off nails. The result was an efficient forge-cleaning tool that I protected from further rust by giving the blade a coating of black enimal paint. Thus, both pieces of salvaged lawnmower steel were put to beneficial use to make new-to-the-world tools that performed beneficial functions.

The Chef’s knife

I had been saving the blade from an old scythe from the 1800s that was given to me over 30-year-ago. It had been exposed to rust and was well-pitted, but was nonetheless sound. The steel used in this scythe was among the highest quality steels available in the day  and similar to that used to make straight razors. The shape of the blade was wide enough to provide sufficient steel to make a Chef’s knife. After the basic shape had been drawn on the blade, a torch was used to  profile of the blade. Rough shaping was done using a grinder and final edging was completed on a 72-inch knife-making machine, which is basically a 72-inch variable-speed belt grinder with a 2-inch wide belt. To preserve the blade’s rustic look, the deep brown rust patina on the sides of the blade was left intact.

Once the blade was ground and holes drilled for the scales, the forge was  used to re-temper the blade, as heat from the cutting torch had heated the steel sufficient to soften the steel. The tempering process served to stiffen the blade and harden the edge. A video showing how the knife was made is at: https://youtu.be/maFAogwdrcw.

Wood from the tea olive, a native American tree whose fragrant-smelling blossoms caused it to be planted around  many antebellum plantations,  was selected as the handle material. This wood is harder than pine, ivory colored, commonly spalted and worm-holed when it has been on the forest floor.  The natural holes and contrasting colors proved to be complementary to the over-all look of the knife. Although the finished knife is fully functional and has a sharp edge, it would appear to be hundreds of years old. Closer inspection would reveal that its cutting edge is brightly finished, the grips are coated with a tough polyurethane and the back of the blade exposes bright metal.

Billy Joe's Chef's knife in kitchen
In a video the Billy Joe Chef’s knife competed in a cooking test with a commercial knife from the discount table at a mass-market outlet. 

Billy Joe’s knife was compared to a $7.00 Chef’s knife from a mass-market-outlet’s discount table during cutting tests using bond paper and vegetables as I prepared some soup. Although Billy Joe’s knife had the advantages of having a sharper, deeper and longer blade, the pitted sides of the blade produced much more friction. In most cases the commercial knife was superior as a usable kitchen knife, although the rustic Rubideoux knife felt better, worked better as a chopping blade and kept its edge during the test. In short it proved itself to be a usable Chef’s knife, although not as good as the inexpensive commercial product.

The Billy Joe Rubideoux knife is more art than functional knife,  but it will work for its intended purposes in a home setting. Its design is superior to the commercial knife. The longer, deeper blade and long grip with the stag-like feel imparted by the worm holes give it a distinctive feel while the light-weight wood of the grips provide a desirable weight-forward balance for the knife. Only the roughness and perhaps the slight lip at the top of the blade made the Billy Joe knife function less well than the commercial blade.  The wooden grips, which provide an artistic counterpoint to the blade,   will  also soften  if immersed in water or put in a dishwasher. These grips demand careful handling, which is not likely to happen in a commercial kitchen.

A video, “A $700 Billy Joe Rubideoux Chef’s Knife Vs. a $7.00 Mass-Market Markdown Makes Soup for the Toothless,”  was made when showing this knife being used to chop vegetables for a soup. While the knife felt good in the hand and handled better than the commercial knife as a chopper; overall, the slicker-sided commercial knife proved to be much more efficient. While distinctive as a piece of rustic functional art made and fine for casual use in a home kitchen, its pitted blade caused it to be inefficient. Billy Joe’s knife would be thrown out of a commercial kitchen, although it did serve to demonstrate that a functional Chef’s knife could be made from scrap materials in a home workshop.  This video may be seen at:https://youtu.be/jpsLeNHNY-E.

This experiment was sufficiently successful that the decision was made to custom make knives and tools in the Billy Joe fashion using salvaged steels and handle materials furnished by the anyone who wants a custom-made, functional tool made of something that had significance to him. As long as it is a reasonable carbon steel, a useful knife or tool can probably be made by the  combined processes of cutting, forging, grinding and tempering. The last is significant, because if too much heat is applied to the metal during cutting or grinding the result will be a softer steel and a weaker tool that will not hold an edge or quickly fail if exposed to heat or stress.

 

 

 

 

A Late-Life Business to Improve Health

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Retirement, freedom from the stress of the corporate world, laying back and doing noting is often viewed as the state of bliss that is supposed to come when one retires. As with most such suppositions, this statement is only part true in that you are free of the constant state of accountability to your bosses, coworkers and even life partner for your mutual success. Woe betide you should you fail, and the chances of failure from predicted and unknowable events are too numerous to mention. No wonder that you are relieved to be out from under the crushing millstone of corporate life.

A few weeks or months later, you become bored with your now mostly sedentary life and want to get back to doing something interesting, useful and intellectually challenging without falling back into the morass that you just escaped from. It may well be that starting your own business might be the key to better psychological and mental health, at a lesser costs than conventional doctors, pills and surgeries.

I found myself in this situation. I was downsized out of a corporate job of my own creation as part of the R&D arm of a multinational corporation. I was  their “Information Scientist.”  This job title was one that I created in that I assisted researchers in finding information, organized the company  patent collection, created a searchable database, kept the company library and developed 15 new ideas for possible company products. Being continually awash with information about patents in our and related fields, I was sometimes able to offer insights into solutions to problems that might have been overlooked.

Since the 1970s, I had been selling articles to newspapers and magazines.  I concentrated on the outdoor press, writing primarily about hunting. Ultimately, I focused on the more specialized area of hunting with muzzleloading guns and for the past decade have been the corresponding editor covering black-powder guns and hunting  for the Gun Digest, which bills itself as “The world’s greatest gun book.” Although interesting, this was mostly a money-losing proposition. I expanded into books and published over 15 books and E-books with the same degree of economic success.  I also tried a year-and-a-half of podcast radio with a variety outdoor show, but that was also an economic failure.

Even though I continued my writing after I was laid off,  I found my body showing increasing signs of failure  as I passed through my 60s to my  mid-70s. These ills included  joint pain, losing the ability to walk freely without pain in the legs, coronary  by-pass surgery and apparently failing mental capacity. Except for the coronary difficulties, the remainder of my problems were generally dismissed by my doctors as the impact of normal aging. There was no ready explanation for the joint pain, but restricted circulation  in the in my legs due to claudication caused by  plaque in the blood vessels.

Some of the usual medications were prescribed, but I found that Lipitor caused me more pain than benefit. When I increased the dose, the level of pain in my legs also increased, further restricted mobility.

A New Business As a Solution

In my previous experience I found that the key to good mental and physical health was to be interested in something that involved risks and rewards and incorporated physical activity. A degree of risk taking has been part of my life since I served in the military as an Engineer Officer after college. Although I served during the Viet Nam era, the bulk of my 2.5-years of service time was spent in Alaska. Although a stateside assignment, working in an Sub-Arctic environment where temperatures, weather and accidents could kill a man provided a challenge. One of my fellow Engineer Officers died as a result of a bad weather caused plane crash on St. Laurence Island in mid-winter – a trip that I later made myself under similar circumstances.

I did my MS Geology thesis by spending all summer largely alone mapping an area of the 40-Mile District, near Chicken, Alaska. As an exploration Geologist in Alaska, we worked every day from helicopters where we were out all Summer hundreds of miles away from any cities and often weathered in for days at the time. I worked on glaciers and mountains, had encounters with black, brown and grizzly bears as well as momma moose, who will fearsely protect their young. All of this was exciting, interesting stuff for a young guy in his 20s and 30s. For a number of years I geologized during the Summer months in Alaska and wintered, and wrote, in Tucson, during the Winter.

Mineral and oil exploration are cyclic markets and when metal prices fell during the early 1980s, I found my self out of work, returned home to Georgia to write, produced a number of books which were not particularly successful and was ultimately hired by a multinational kaolin-mining company, English China Clays, where I became their Information Scientist.

Past retirement age, I continued my writing and did some industrial Public Relations work and occasionally made some money, but my writing was mostly an economic drain, rather than a revenue producer. As a result I found myself looking for something that had the potential of making significant money.

Parameters for a Successful Retirement Business

Retail trade in small town America is a dying proposition. Independent stores cannot compete against the larger chains and increasingly easy on-line buying opportunities. While offering the comforts of being in a community of fellow merchants and interacting with the public, I could think of nothing that I could sell locally that would potentially return investment, much less make money from – not even in the area of muzzleloading guns and knives where I was an acknowledged expert.

I needed to develop products that were proven, had world-wide sales potential, were sufficiently new to attract a lot of free publicity, relatively easy to make, would allow my personal input into design and not require my setting up a large factory to make them or have a large staff to sell them. My ideal would be a company consisting of a few people with million-dollar sales potential. One way to reach this goal was to conceive of a concept where I designed and demonstrated a class of objects and licensed production to others on a royalty basis. I developed this concept in print, in one of my books Ideas for New Businesses: How to start your own million or billion dollar business, which is available from Amazon.com and other sources.

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All new businesses, from the largest to the smallest start with an idea.

Hovey’s Knives of China

While in undergraduate school at the University of Georgia, I toyed with the concept of majoring in Archeology, rather than Geology. I was always interested in Archeology and while in High School spent a summer at Mesa Verde National Park working for the concessionaire. On days off I would explore the ruins myself. At the time there were few paying positions in Archeology, and Geology seemed to offer better opportunities for a successful career. The situation for Archeologist has improved somewhat, but these are mostly lower paying salvage exploration jobs requiring extreme mobility and much dull, repetitive work in uncomfortable settings.

A minor thing that attracted my attention was Chinese knife money, which was a coin shaped like a knife with a hole in the handle used as currency  in central China during the Warring States Period, before the rise of Imperial China.  This was put in long-term memory storage among millions of other interesting, but apparently useless, bits of information. Some 40-years later, I saw some of these knives exhibited at the International Blade Show in Atlanta. I could not afford to buy one, but arranged to take detailed photos. After forming a relationship with Bladesmith Murray Carter, which included making knives in his shop, I asked him to produce a copy of one of these knives in forged steel.

Now that I had a working knife, I used it in the field for a variety of tasks and even took it to China where I demonstrated it to a Chef at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Zhengzhou. While there, I had a chance to visit the Henan Provincial Museum, and saw some of the original knife money as well as other bronze cooking implements. I have several YouTube videos about this trip. One showing Carter’s knife is at:   https://youtu.be/TCSJSbJxRMs . By the time I made my second trip to China in 2015, I had made wooden models of a dozen patterns and was considering different ways of producing them.

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Hovey, center, with Chef and Hotel Manager.

These flights to China were man-killers, and 30-hours of sitting in cramped seats provided little comfort for my legs. By the time I was even partly recovered, it was time to do it again and return home. By happenstance, I ran into Paul Hjort, a knifemaker who makes Bowie-style knives, at our local Kaolin Festival. At the time he had comparatively little equipment and worked out of his trailer. We came to an arrangement, and he made prototype knives from my designs, which we exhibited at the Cobb Galleria at the International Blade Show. My knives were so different that many did not understand them or appreciate how they might be used. Nonetheless, they attracted considerable attention. I was hoping to obtain sufficient numbers of orders to finance the construction of a stand-alone knife shop, but these were not forthcoming.Assorted knives on red back. banner

The preceding events required quite a bit of mental and physical effort and even more was to come when I turned a portion of my back porch into a workshop where Paul and I could make our custom signature knives. As my activity state increased, my mental and physical health improved. I find myself regaining my physical abilities and in much less pain than formerly  without taking increased amounts of medications.

Although these knives are made by stock reduction from water-jet cut blanks, rather than forging, the operation of the equipment, the labor involved in making charcoal for my forge and the general upkeep of my house, grounds and hunting land provides sufficient exercise to keep me mobile while giving me something potentially profitable to do. This works reasonably well, because I can interspersed times of physical and lest strenuous mental activities throughout the day.

Conclusions

My approach of taking risks with my late-life savings to found a new company with an uncertain outcome, has provided me with a business that keeps me engaged and provides a reason to continue an active existence. If successful, the business will outlive me and provide income for many others who may be associated with my namesake products. This has provided me with something that I feel is worth doing, worth the risk-taking and is providing me with an improved life experience.