By Mike Haskew , Blade magazine, field editor
When Steve Paolantonio joined Colonial® he came back from a three‐
year hiatus. Seems times were changing in the knife industry, and a
positive response to fresh ideas would lay the foundation to future
His family’s roots in knife manufacturing go back almost a century. His
grandfather, Antonio Paolantonio started the A. Paolantonio Cutlery in
1919 after a stint in the U.S. Army during WWI, where he learned the
blacksmith trade with the cavalry. Antonio recognized the blend of
tradition and foresight that would ensure the future success of a new
Founded by Steve’s grandfather and his two brothers in 1926, Colonial
Knife® had been operated by three generations of the Paolantonio
family. By the late 1990’s, Steve was the company president.
“The time frame in which I took over was the roughest in the
history of Colonial Knife®” he said. “We were dealing with some of the
same ills as companies like (the original) Camillus and Schrade. Cost
were going through the roof, and large quantities of Chinese imports
were flooding the U.S. market and at a fraction of our cost. During a
meeting with the board of directors, I had presented my plan to right
size the company and bring it back to profitability” Paolantonio
continued. “I had a business plan to sell our 90,000 square foot
manufacturing facility and to relocate to a modern facility‐over the
history of the company we had acquired multiples of many of the same
assembly and processing equipment‐we were a large manufacturer,
one of the largest in the U.S. and manufacturing hundreds of thousands
of knives annually. With the rush of quality Chinese imports during the
80’s‐90, our volume dropped to manufacturing just thousands of knives
annually.”Today, Colonial knife® is the trade name for Colonial Cutlery
International’s U.S.‐made products, while the imported knives are
under the CCI brand. Officially, Colonial Knife® is a subsidiary of CCI.
The historical Colonial market appeal has been that of the affordable
knife, well built, and Paolantonio asserts that the entire line of CCI
knives is moving quite well these days. Responding to the questions,
“What can we do that the public wants to see?” CCI has stepped up to
the plate with several strong offerings.
Among the favorites is the Ranger Series, which had been a part
of the old Colonial knife® line since 1934. The knives originally included
medium‐size two‐and three‐blade stockman patterns. They are being
reintroduced in a number of different styles starting with machetes,
throwing knives, and switchblades with the “Ranger Grind” to highlight
the silkiness of the knife’s line and with “Ranger” etched on the blade.
With a choice of ATS‐34 or 440 series stainless blade and Isoplast™
handle, the Ranger harkens back to the days when Colonial® advertised
the Rangers as a “Boys first knife”.
Today, Colonial® manufactures official Eagle Scout, Cub Scout and
Girl Scout anniversary knives.
Combing the family tradition with a keen sense of the here and
now, CCI keeps a well know iconic brand alive and under the
Paolantonio flag into its ninth decade. In these trying times, few if any
family companies can make the same claim