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CUTCO Cutlery Corporation
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Cutting-edge manufacturer forges deep relationship with sharp employees

At a Glance

CUTCO Cutlery Corporation has produced American-made knives and kitchen accessories since 1949. Its products are sold by independent sales representatives across the country.

Headquarters
Olean, NY

Website
www.cutco.com

Industry
Housewares, Manufacturing, & Retail

Union Employees
433 manufacturing employees

Annual Revenues
$200 million

Outlets
One manufacturing location and independent retail sellers nationwide

Even in a crowded market, CUTCO Cutlery’s business continually succeeds, thanks to a manufacturing process steeped in partnership between the company and its 400 plus union- represented employees.

The maker of over 100 different forms of high-end kitchen cutlery and accessories in the United States and Canada, CUTCO holds annual sales that exceed over $200 million worldwide. Last year alone, the manufacturer sold 6 million pieces of lifetime-guaranteed cutlery.

Staking a “forever” guarantee on all products requires little margin for error, and workers are in an important position to ensure quality and improve productivity. Realizing this, CUTCO executives set out in the late 1970s to improve how the company worked with employees and their union. The successful new relationship transformed relations between labor and management, generating a new business plan that moved the company forward and created good jobs.

Developed over the last two decades, this partnership between CUTCO managers and United Steelworker-represented (USW) employees is based on a shared principle: quality products come from women and men on the factory floor that have everything they need to thrive.

The company demonstrates a deep commitment to its investment in its most important asset – its people, reflects CUTCO President James Stitt. “We approach our employees from a human perspective. We don’t change that when we come to work. We treat people the way they want to be treated,” says Stitt.

You can see the evidence of the partnership’s success throughout the shop floor. Workers take ownership of their roles, training one another to use the different tools and machinery without requiring  management to be present. Flexible work arrangements allow workers to cover for each other so that a sensible work-life balance can be maintained. The company has virtually no turnover, and employees are invested in working at CUTCO into retirement. And workers and management share a commitment to improving safety for everyone’s benefit. To this end, CUTCO witnessed a 20-30 percent decrease in safety incidents at a time when many new employees were learning their jobs, with veteran workers helping to familiarize new colleagues with hazardous equipment.

No matter how you slice it, CUTCO employees and managers’ mutual success comes from their partnership and its foundation of respect and involvement. Brian George, president of USW Local 5429, observes, “There is a pride in things CUTCO has done in the community, and a pride in working at CUTCO.” Echoes President Stitt, “If you…don’t utilize the opportunity to work with the union, you are missing the boat.”

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