Officials credited more than $7.5 million Kai USA has invested in its Tualatin facility to new demand.

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Kershaw factory manager Mark Bochsler talks about the knife-making process during a tour for elected officials.Thronged by business leaders and local officials at the manufacturing facility for Kershaw Knives in Tualatin on Wednesday, Nov. 29, representatives of Kai USA Ltd. and Walmart touted the companies' work together in promoting American jobs and manufacturing.

Kai USA has invested more than $7.5 million into its Tualatin facility over the past several years, according to company officials. Walmart spokeswoman Debbie Herron said that investment has allowed Kershaw to increase its production to meet Walmart's demand.

Jack Igarashi, chief operating officer of Kai USA, said the company manufactures more than one million knives every year, and more than 400 people work at its headquarters in Tualatin.

"We also do business with numerous local suppliers in the area," Igarashi said.

"The knives that we carry are throughout our entire supply chain, so this factory right here has a national presence through our stores and our customers that go beyond the boundaries of Oregon's borders," said Herron.

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Kai USA employs about 400 people at its Tualatin headquarters.In 2013, Walmart stated it would commit $250 billion over 10 years to "products that support American jobs." That "American Jobs Initiative" has had a ripple effect for Kai USA and Kershaw Knives, Herron said, as shown by the latest investments in its 55,000-square-foot manufacturing center in Tualatin.

"It's related to the fact that we're expanding and bringing more and more American-made products onto our shelves," Herron said. "The additional capacity for our orders … is related to that $250 billion over 10 years."

State Sen. Betsy Johnson also spoke at Wednesday's event. Johnson, a Scappoose Democrat, does not represent the Tualatin area in the Oregon Legislature, but she is one of the leading advocates in state government for the metal manufacturing sector. She also carries a Kershaw-made pocketknife, as does her husband, she said — and she displayed them for attendees to see.

"We are determined to revitalize the manufacturing sector," Johnson said. "Right now, if it flies, floats or freights, we want to make it greener, lighter, faster, better."

She added, "One of the reasons that I was especially eager to be here was that it would be easier to think of this as a Portland event or a Tualatin event. It actually stretches much farther than that. … This is an Oregon benefit, not just a Portland benefit."

Johnson was joined at the event by state Rep. Bill Kennemer, R-Oregon City, and city officials from Beaverton, Tigard and Tualatin, including Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle and Tigard Mayor John L. Cook.

City Councilor Jeff DeHaan, representing the Tualatin City Council, said he is a Kershaw customer as well and lives close by the manufacturing facility.

"Kai is a wonderful neighbor in Tualatin," DeHaan said. "We are very pleased to have them here and continue to grow and prosper."

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Oregon State Sen. Betsy Johnson asks questions about the knife-making process during a tour of Kai USA's factory in Tualatin.

By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor, The Times
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