For me it started very simply as a hobby.
In the summer of 1937 I was taking a stroll near Walloon Lake in Michigan when I saw a fellow scraping paint from a boat with a distinctive looking knife.I wasn't much impressed with the man who was using such a fine tool recklessly, but I sure liked his knife, which was standing up to some really tough use. So I bought it. As it turned out, the knife was hand crafted - the first hand-made knife I'd ever seen - by W. W. Scagel. Bill Scagel is justly recognized as a pioneer in hand-made knives.
Back then, his name wasn't widely known, but I was truly impressed with what he'd created at a time when virtually all knives were being mass produced.
A PERSONAL CHALLENGE
I challenged myself to make a knife that was just as good, or at least make the best knife I could make.
My first knife was a simple blade ground from a file. But, before long I had a shop with a small forge and I put a lot of time into crafting knives that I could be proud to make and use myself. And before long, I began selling them at my father-in-law's clothing store in Orlando. As an outdoorsman, I took a lot of personal satisfaction in creating knives that were simple in design, but very functional. And a growing business evolved among friends, fellow sportsmen and sales to a few large sporting goods stores.
Through it all, I managed our family's citrus groves and I continued to think of my hand-made knives as an avocation.
Then, World War II began. A young sailor asked me to make him a knife for use in man-to-man combat. When his friends saw it, they placed orders, and their friends placed orders, and my knives were used in combat, and a reporter wrote a story and...
All hell broke loose.
Suddenly unexpectedly we were in the knife business as envelopes addressed simply to "Knife Man, Orlando, Florida" arrived on the doorstep.
I built a full-scale shop and for the first time began using apprentices. With demand so strong, it was tempting to develop mass production methods.
Now, more than ever, I wanted Randall Made™ to stand for quality and dependability, because servicemen were telling me how much they relied on my knives.
One wrote, "It was a terrible thing at close range. (Your knife) would cut a man's head nearly off with a quick swing... I also used that knife to open cans, cut wood, dress water buffalo... and it stayed sharp. I was offered all kinds of trades, but I wouldn't part with it." Since that time, Randall Made™ knives have been used extensively by soldiers and Marines, flyers and sailors, generals and infantrymen.
Our customers have also included astronauts, government agents, celebrities, statesmen and royalty. Most importantly to me, there are thousands upon thousands of individuals who choose Randall Knives because they need a superbly crafted knife they can count on in the home and in the field. Or, as is often the case today, they've wanted to have a Randall Made™ knife in their collection.
For some years now, my son, Gary, has been instrumental in the business. He is honored, as I am, that Randall Made™ knives are on display in museums, as well as in many private collections of fine weapons and armor.
That's one of the reasons we decided to issue a limited edition Collector's Knife to commemorate our 50th anniversary. And we were most gratified when all 300 knives were ordered so quickly.
But frankly, our favorite models are those specifically designed to be carried and used day in and day out, year after year. The reason is because, like many of you, Gary and I are both sportsmen, so we make knives we want to use.
Over the years, I've had the good fortune to talk to many of our customers personally. Many, many more have written to compliment the design, craftsmanship and durability of their Randall Made™ knife, and I cherish every one of those letters.
But, I'm most grateful to those who have made suggestions on ways to improve our knives. Even though some have said "they're perfect," we know there is always room for refinement.
In short, for me and every man who crafts a Randall Made™ knife, the challenge today is exactly the same as it was 50 plus years ago: To fashion the best knife we can make.
THE TRADITION CONTINUES
W. D. "Bo" Randall passed away December 25, 1989 at his home after visiting with all his family earlier in the day. Bo and his son Gary managed the business side by side for over twenty-five years. Gary continues the tradition of hand crafting knives that bear the Randall Made trademark along with his sons, Jason and Michael, of the next Randall generation.