After retiring from his corporate career a few years ago, Alan Gwinner turned his lifelong love of craftsmanship and working with his hands into what is now Precision Sharpening of Bremerton.
Long dissatisfied with the results of hand sharpening his own knives and tools at home, Alan studied and learned all he could about machine sharpening. With an eye towards creating a finer edge, he purchased state-of-the-art Tormek equipment that brings back better-than-factory sharpness to knives, scissors and garden tools. It was during his self-imposed apprenticeship with the toughest teacher around that he mastered his machinery.
Alan then asked friends and neighbors to drop off their dull tools so that he could literally hone his craft. After receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback on the results, Alan posted on NextDoor to see if there might be a need for a knife sharpener in the area. He was again blown away by the positive responses. “When I received over 80 enthusiastic replies, I knew I was onto something: a real business with real demand.”
Alan then looked for the vehicle out of which he could operate Precision Sharpening. It was parked right there in the driveway.
The company’s signature big red van was bought and used solely for camping right after Covid hit. “My wife Stephanie and I traveled around to state and national parks in Texas, where we lived at the time, and in Washington, our current and hopefully forever home.” With the removal of some seating, the van turned out to be an ideal mobile business vehicle, allowing Alan and Stephanie to appear regularly at the Port Orchard and Bremerton farmers markets as well as quilt shows, restaurants, private and pop-up events throughout the state.
Alan’s dedication to producing the finest-quality results is equaled by his drive for sustainability. “I started this business to put tools back in service, to give them new life so that they don’t end up in the landfill,” Alan says. In addition, many knives, scissors and garden tools also carry real sentimental value. “With so many folks bringing me heirloom knives and scissors left them by their parents and grandparents, I feel like I’m giving renewed life to valuable family keepsakes. They then can be passed onto the next generation to use. That’s such a good feeling.”
Along with sustainability and putting tools back into service, being a part of the community is also important. “The farmers markets we do business at bring the community together, providing nutritious food to our under-served neighbors, so they make a positive impact beyond profits.” Alan’s involvement with the markets increased when he was recently named Treasurer of the Bremerton Community Farmers Market.