A great story. A purple cow. Phenomenal design. A Free Prize Inside. An army of customer evangelists. Scarcity.
Pretty phenomenal marketing from a 70 year old who has never heard of Seth Godin.
Don Canney has a superpower. He makes the best fillet knife in the world.
Don is an avid fisherman who has a home on beautiful Leech Lake in northern Minnesota. It isn’t unusual for Don to have filleted hundreds of fish after a day of fishing.
Years ago, Don noticed that his fillet knives got dull very quickly from the initial cut behind the gill. When making this cut you are cutting down into the scales that protect the body of the fish from the razor sharp teeth of other predator fish. With a nod and a wink to Mr. Charles Darwin, Don set out to redesign the traditional fillet knife.
Don used his education in metallurgy and material science to design a high carbon/semi-stainless alloy steel that is then hardened and tempered to Don’s specifications. The blade is extremely thin and flexible but the most unique and effective feature of this knife is really what sets it apart. The top is a sharp hook and top two inches of the backside of the knife is razor sharp.
Don didn’t just redesign a knife, he redesigned the process of filleting a fish.
Don’s Leech Lake knives are not only beautiful and extremely durable, they work unlike any other fillet knife in the world. When a Leech Lake knife owner meets a fellow fisherman, it is impossible not to show and talk about the knife.
You can’t buy Don’s knives on Amazon. Don prefers to sell his knives personally, one by one at the many sport shows he attends every year. This gives Don the ability to hand engrave the blade, “Made especially for your name – year of purchase“.
Also, each knife comes with a nice leather sheath in which Don puts one standard size Band-Aid. Even though he warns people, everyone forgets and cuts themselves on the sharp upper side of the knife.
With a flexible, paper thin blade, many owners are worried about sharpening it themselves. After reminding you that it should only need sharpening once every couple years, Don offers to sharpen it for free, either at any of the sport shows or by mailing it to him. People that attend sport shows usually go every year, so after using your knife for a year, you go back to Don’s booth and buy a couple more for friends or family.
You can buy a basic fillet knife for $12 almost anywhere. Don’s amazing, hand-built knives cost $90 and are worth every penny. You get a lot more than a knife.
My Dad visited with Don at the Minneapolis Sport Show yesterday like he does every year. Don is getting older and he doesn’t do as many shows as he used to but he was still there, affable as ever, selling new knives and sharpening old ones, adding small but important personal touches that also help owners continue to tell his story.