The Ken Onion story is a prime example of pursuing passion to fulfill a lifetime dream. Ken’s early years were spent in Wellington, Ohio and Rochester, New York. When he was 12, his family moved to Palestine, West Virginia to a 213-acre farm where a teenaged Ken Onion was inspired by Vernon Ott, blacksmith and maker of garden tools and knives. In 1981, after graduating from high school he joined the United States Marine Corps and became a F4 Phantom mechanic. This move marked the beginning of Ken’s quest to design the perfect knife. While stationed in Hawaii, Ken worked part time for Advance Aviation, restoring vintage aircraft. Since leaving the Marine Corps in 1985 Ken has worked in various fields including construction, heavy equipment repair, and hydraulics repair.
“While recovering from back surgery in 1996, I decided to try to design a folder that was easier to manipulate than what was available, and not a switchblade. The result was the first assisted opening knife I called “Speed Safe”.
After finding some information on the whole patent process and consultation from an attorney, I got my first patent, creating a whole new category of knives between manual and auto.”
In 1998, Mr. Onion worked with Kershaw Knives as their designer. Since that time, Kershaw has grown substantially, becoming nationally recognized. With a group of talented, passionate designers on board, Kershaw Knives offers hundreds of products, including the kershaw scallion knife. The Scallion, from Ken Onion is said to be not only small yet practical and safe for both men and women. This is just one of many knives built with the Speed Safe opening system.
As for Ken Onion, he owns roughly 36 patents on various items including locks, gadgetry, mechanisms, safeties, designs, as well as several trademarks. Traveling on behalf of Kershaw, he delivers mini lectures and classes to sales teams and retail cutlery stores about the differences in steel and their application as well as general knowledge about knives. These seminars also offer guidance for making knowledgeable purchasing decisions in a non-bias manner.
What is your passion?