Knife Story: Tom Franz and his Dexter Russell Knives

For over 24 years, Tom Franz has walked through the doors of Mott’s Channel Seafood in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina to start his workday. I met him right about that time when I began my charter fishing days. I would tie up at the dock, come in to get ice for my trip, and sometimes live shrimp or mud minnows to avoid having to catch bait myself. Each time I walked in the big back door there was Tom, standing there in rubber boots, a smile on his face and one of his many Dexter Russell knives in his hand cleaning the catch of the day. It’s a routine that was repeated day after day for the years I ran fishing trips for those visiting our beaches. As time went by, Tom and I would often talk about our families, especially our little boys. Many times I would come back to Mott’s Channel Seafood for more ice or bait for the afternoon trip and find Tom’s young son fishing off the dock. It was a welcomed sight.

After leaving charter fishing in 2001, I only saw Tom sporadically when I would come in for seafood. Nearly every time, there would be Tom in those rubber boots with a big smile on his face and a Dexter Russell knife in his hand going to town on what always seemed to be a massive fish.  We would never fail to ask each other about our families. Then over time, we ceased to talk about our little boys only to change the topic to what is now our grown sons. A change that forced us to realized we were aging and the world around us was changing as well.

Not a ton of fodder for the NewsFeed this morning, but this caught my eye. Dexter Russell was formed in 1933 when Harrington Cutlery Company and the John Russell Cutlery Company merged. As well regarded as they seem to be among knife-using professionals, I find it odd that you don’t hear more about them.

Read the whole thing at