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Buck Knives eyes Post Falls

Decision due in July on new location for knife maker’s 300-person

By Addy Hatch

Buck Knives Inc., a
renowned maker of hunting
and utility knives, is
considering moving its
corporate headquarters and
manufacturing plant to Post
Falls from Southern California,
which would bring about 300
jobs here.

Buck Knives is looking at
three cities for its new home:
Spokane, Post Falls, and
Bend, Ore., says Chuck Buck, chairman of the company.

Of the three, “It’s looking more like it’s going to end up in Post Falls or
Bend,” Buck says, adding that he expects to make a decision on a location
by July.
In whatever location it decides on, Buck Knives will build an about
140,000-square-foot plant, which would take about a year to construct, he
says. Buck says he expects the relocation to take place about a year and a
half from now.

The privately held, family-owned company would move some employees
here from its current headquarters in El Cajon, Calif., a suburb of San Diego,
but most would be hired locally, he says. Basic assembly jobs in the
manufacturing plant would pay about $12 to $13 an hour, he says.

Buck declines to say exactly what parcel of property the company is
considering in Post Falls, but says it’s on Interstate 90, and that the facility
would need about 10 acres. Jobs Plus Inc., the Coeur d’Alene-based
economic-development agency, has been helping Buck Knives with its
search, he says.

Buck says he’s leaning toward Post Falls as his company’s new
headquarters location.
“I’m feeling really strong about Post Falls and I’m the major mover because I
own most of the stock,” he says. His son, C.J. Buck, is president and CEO of
the company, which was founded in 1902 by C.J.’s great-grandfather, Hoyt
Buck says Spokane isn’t as strong a contender for the new plant as Post
Falls because property is cheaper in the North Idaho town.

Also, Buck says, “We really like the very conservative government, from the
governor on down, in Idaho. That’s a big draw for us. We’re very conservative.”
Although Buck Knives has been located in El Cajon, near San Diego, for
many years, Buck says the price of electricity in California has gotten too
expensive for the company to remain competitive there, especially on top of
that area’s otherwise high cost of living.
“Unfortunately, Gray Davis, our governor, has really made some major
mistakes in trying to resolve the power issue,” Buck says.

By moving to the Pacific Northwest, the company will be able to trim its
expenses, he says. For example, in California, Buck Knives pays $17 an hour
for the same labor it expects to pay $12 to $13 an hour for here, he says.
However, “for less money, people can live at an even higher standard” than
they do in the San Diego area, he says. “The cost of living is 20, 25 percent
less (in North Idaho),” he says.
Buck Knives built the 200,000-square-foot plant it occupies in El Cajon in
1980, and the building now is for sale, Buck says.

He says he initially looked at the Inland Northwest because he used to have
family in this area—his uncle, Walter Buck, was pastor at an Assembly of
God church in Spokane for many years. In addition, Hoyt Buck made his first
knives as a boy in Mountain Home, Idaho, located near Boise.

“That’s one of our reasons (for moving),” Buck says. “We’ll be going back to
our roots.”
Personally, the 65-year-old Buck says, “it’s going to be different for me” to
be in the Pacific Northwest, since he was born and raised in Southern
California. “I’m not used to snow and stuff like that, but there’s just too many
benefits to not do it.”

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