CHINO, CA— With the tagline “Beautiful Function,” the Cangshan Cutlery Company is honing its market position in the U.S.
Founded in 2014 by New Star Foodservice Inc., Cangshan Cutlery has expanded its presence in the U.S. consumer marketplace.
With a strong emphasis on design, the company said the cutlery collection is positioned as a “best” product line that is priced 40% to 50% less than the competition at retail. Currently, the collection includes 12 original knife designs, seven original knife blocks, leather knife roll sets, magnetic knife bars and a pair of kitchen shears.
The brand grew out of New Star Foodservice’s restaurant quality food service business and it was founder/CEO Henry Liu’s desire to shake things up in the U.S. and try his hand at something new.
“When it comes to cutlery, the U.S. is the largest market and all of the high-end established cutlery brands are here. They have done a good job in building up the foundation of consumers who are willing to invest in high-end quality knives,” Liu said.
After nearly two years of doing his research, Liu honed in on both the function and design of the cutlery. He felt the cutlery industry hadn’t changed much in the last few years and there hasn’t been a strong design element.
“We felt that the high-end knife manufacturers are really good with functionality but have completely ignored the design angle. I have seen many classic designs in the market for many decades, so I asked myself, can I maintain the highest functionality standards and do something different with beautiful designs? This is why Cangshan Cutlery Company was born, and how our tagline, ‘Beautiful Function,’ came about. We believe the consumer wants both. In fact we believe the consumer demands both,” Liu said.
For the Cangshan Cutlery collection, Liu said the company utilizes materials including German, Swedish and Japanese high alloy steels and that each knife is hand sharpened with an Asian-style edge. The knives’ plastic handles are made from food safe plastic, while the knife blocks are crafted from durable, rich textured woods such as acacia, teak, walnut and African blackwood.
This attention to detail and design, he said, has earned several Cangshan Cutlery knife sets two 2016 Red Dot design awards and three 2017 A’Design awards.
This achievement, added Rob Walling, the company’s national sales manager, has helped the company when approaching new retailers.
“Winning these awards has opened the door a bit more, it lends credibility to what we are doing. When you go in as a new brand that no one has heard of and to be able to lead with how we have already earned industry recognition, it opens people’s eyes,” said Walling.
In addition to the design awards, Liu said the company also gained exposure from its presence at the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago earlier this year.
“After two years of research and development, we officially exhibited at the IH+HS show this year and had an overwhelming response. After the show, within a couple months we had over 60 sales rep on board across the country and began our push into retail,” he said.
According to Liu, the company’s sales team covers 3,000 stores nationwide, consisting of both independents and larger gourmet retailers.
Moving forward, Cangshan Cutlery is focused on expanding its retail presence, especially with in-store opportunities at major retailers nationwide.
While there have been some accolades and successful sales stateside, launching a new product that is made in China is not without its challenges.
“We absolutely must have a superior product as far as functionality goes. We pride ourselves on our factory partners. Unfortunately when people hear a product is made in China, they tend to freak out. We remind people that there are good quality products coming out of China so that has been our biggest challenge,” said Walling.
To help overcome that challenge, the company has put a strong focus on its packaging, which Liu stated was critically important to everything the company does.
“If we are standing on the assumption of ‘Beautiful Function’ it is imperative that our packaging speaks to this first. We are also highly engaged on all social media platforms and are very proactive in listening to both our customers and retailers to constantly refine our vision,” he said. “We pride ourselves on being an alternative in the market place for high end knives that are both beautiful, functional and affordable.”
In addition to independent specialty and gourmet retailers, Cangshan Cutlery can be found on Amazon and Home Depot’s website. The knife block sets have a suggested retail price range of $129.95 to $749.95, and the knives are also available in open stock.