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L'Usine Nouvelle - 18 to 24 September 2008
K Sabatier, the soul of the knife remains in Thiers
"When I was a kid, I saw from the shipments of knives made by my parents to the United States, New Caledonia ... I wanted to hide inside to discover the world, " says Philippe Bournilhas past two years as head of the family business specializing in kitchen knives upmarket. The auvergnat finally chose to stay in Thiers, his home town of Puy-de-Dome. Its roots are here in the capital of cutlery. His commitment to tradition, too. At the end of his studies, he joined Sabatier Aîné & Perrier. Founded by Bonnet Sabatier in 1834, K Sabatier is one of the few brands have remained family for eight generations. In the early 2000s, however, sales plummeted. The promise of a local success story firmly established for over 150 years. U.S. markets inherited contracts established by Sabatier Bonnet in the 1870s, are turning to suppliers at very low cost.
Philippe Bournilhas launches the creation of a website. Fast delivery, custom knives ... The company has redeveloped its marketing around its strength, the knife forged. A force that takes its source in the Durolle, which flows along the mountain near Thiers. Generations of workers are exhausted before the spinning wheels, lying on a board, sixteen hours a day.
Slowly, the techniques are improving. The men had less rheumatism, the knife less microcracks. Forge, tempering, grinding, assembly, polishing each stage of manufacture is increasingly controlled to produce a knife very high end. For Philippe Bournilhas, "no question for a relocating. Our future is the authenticity of the terroir. With 70% of sales are exports, funds K Sabatier continue to travel. But his expertise is made in Thiers.