Etched in Excellence

This article was written by Peter Greer and published by Faith Driven Entrepreneur


I unwrapped one of the most memorable gifts of my childhood on my twelfth birthday. At the time I knew nothing of the company that manufactured the Buck knife I held in my hands, but I knew from its weight and sheen that this was a high-quality, excellent product. Throughout my youth, that knife was my constant companion on many outdoor adventures, as I unknowingly continued in a very long and rich history of Buck knife aficionados.

The company that now employs over 300 individuals who manufacture upwards of five million knives annually began with the work of a bi-vocational pastor who pursued both ministry and knife-making “as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). Pastor Hoyt Buck transitioned from knife-making hobbyist to professional during World War II, when the government called for donations for American soldiers. Hoyt knew he could make high-quality knives: He had been doing it since he was just 13 years old. He bought an anvil, grinder, and forge, and in his church basement, he crafted over 2,000 knives to donate.

With friends’ encouragement and prodding, Hoyt and his son, Al, purchased more equipment and began commercially producing knives. H.H. Buck & Son made about five knives a day through the 1940s. Today, Al’s son Chuck is the chairman of Buck Knives. Chuck is warm, generous, and eager to tell the story of how the company came to be. “In the early days, my dad did the handle work, and my grandpa did the blade work,” he reminisces. “Even when my grandpa was in the hospital, he still did the blade work from the hospital. Eventually, my grandpa figured my dad needed to learn how to make blades. My dad would go into the hospital every night until my grandpa was satisfied that he could make the blades just right.”

Hoyt Buck’s adherence to quality is still melded into the company he founded. Over 100 years after Hoyt made his first knife, the Buck family is still zealously committed to quality and to Christian principles.
Growing from a company that produced a handful of knives daily to over 10,000 daily—without losing the commitment to quality—is a testament to Hoyt, Al, and Chuck’s shared perspective on what it takes to run a company the right way. Because the Buck family holds such confidence in the quality of the craftsmanship, they personally guarantee every Buck knife for life. Accompanying the lifetime guarantee in the box is a simple message to the new knife-buyer from the Buck family:

If this is your first Buck knife, “Welcome aboard.” You are now part of a very large family. We think of each one of our users as a member of the Buck Knives family. Now that you are family, you might want to know a little more about us. The fantastic growth of Buck Knives, Inc. was no accident. From the beginning, we were determined to make God the Senior Partner. In a crisis, the problem was turned over to Him, and He hasn’t failed to help us with the answer. Each knife must reflect the integrity of management. If sometimes we fail on our end, because we are human, we find it imperative to do our utmost to make it right. If any of you are troubled or perplexed and looking for answers, may we invite you to look to Him, for God loves you. Chuck Buck, Chairman/Owner of Buck Knives

“For God loved the world so much that He gave His only son; so that anyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”—John 3:16

Customers buying Buck Knives hail from all corners of the world. From all faith backgrounds, tens of millions of people—from Shanghai to Moscow to San Antonio—own Buck Knives and have read this simple Gospel message. The Bucks believe that the quality of their craftsmanship is crucial.

A substandard knife would undermine the message they include in the box. Propelled by their faith, Buck Knives is setting the standard for professional excellence. They understand the inherent link between the services they provide and the way people hear their message. They are focused on letting their “light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Light doesn’t shine when it comes packaged in an inferior product.

The words “poor quality” and “Christian” should never be used to describe the same organization. Substandard work runs contrary to God’s calling, even while excellent work—as Buck Knives can attest—can open doors to share the Gospel.

Martin Luther once wrote, “The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.” Just as Hoyt Buck was unwilling to etch the Buck name into a knife until it had reached his exacting standards of excellence, God doesn’t ask us to etch His name on our shoddy craftsmanship. Our faith demands we lead “best in class” organizations, regardless of what type of work we do.