Honing A New Career In Knife Sharpening

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Still an entrepreneur at age 70, Jon Holmquist starts a mobile knife-sharpening franchise

Jon Holmquist figures he's had more than 50 jobs during his life. He's sold real estate and espresso machines, managed banks, cut hair, operated a drive-through coffee shop (the second one that opened in Oregon, he says) and, most recently, sharpened knives. He even designed and built his own sharpening machine.

This 70-year-old Salem resident isn't done working yet. He's started a mobile knife-sharpening franchise business called Edgemaster Franchising Inc. Once he's finalized the paperwork for his new venture, franchises will be available throughout the state, including the Portland area.

Each Edgemaster franchisee will have a van set up as a mobile sharpening unit, equipped with one of Holmquist's machines. The vans will travel from customer to customer restaurants, grocery stores, retirement centers, "any eating establishment," Holmquist says. They'll sharpen not just knives but deli slicers, upholstery and sewing shears (but no hair-cutting scissors), lawn tools and other instruments.

"It's an exciting business, and there are so many people who need this kind of income," Holmquist says. "It's a fun business to be in. Your time is your own." The son of a minister, Holmquist grew up in Salem. "I've been an entrepreneur my whole life, just about anything you can imagine," he says.

Several years ago he ran a distributorship for espresso machines, but that ended when the guy who imported the machines didn't pay his bills, Holmquist says.

Then someone suggested that Holmquist become a barber, so about seven years ago he went to barber school. That led him to start a knife-sharpening business, for which he made his own sharpening machine. "I built one and worked on it a couple of years to perfect it, then started selling them on the Internet," he says. "I sold about 300 of them in two years." Holmquist sold his knife-sharpening business to start the franchise company. He's president of Edgemaster; his son, Darren, also of Salem, is the company's chief executive officer and his daughter, Dana Hennelly of Lake Oswego, handles the marketing.

Retirement is not in Holmquist's near future. "I'm having so much fun," he says.

"I can't imagine doing a job every day that you hate. I never quit a job because I hated it I would see something else interesting. Every job I've learned, I've learned to the max."

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