Sparta Rising!

Spartan Blades Poised To Take New Territory

There’s an old adage in the business world that states “If you’re not going forward, you’re going backwards.” If so, Spartan Blades just took a massive leap ahead. Formed in 2008 in the Sandhills of North Carolina near Fort Bragg, Spartan Blades burst onto the cutlery scene under the ownership of two former Spec Ops veterans, Mark Carey and Curtis Iovito. With their solid reputation behind them, Spartan Blades quickly carved out a nice-sized chunk of the high-end tactical market, garnering numerous industry awards along the way. Recently all this changed in a maneuver that will expose the company to a customer base Mark and Curtis never dreamed of when cutlery giant KA-BAR Knives entered the scene.

“I met John Stitt, President of KA-BAR for the first time at the 2014 International Blade Show in Atlanta,” Curtis explains. “In 2016 we worked together on a short run of custom Ek Daggers. We made 400 of them; 200 for KA-BAR and 200 for Spartan Blades, to be sold as a Limited-Edition. Because the project went so well and because we enjoyed working with each other, a friendly relationship developed. This led to talk of another project and the possibility of KA-BAR making some knives designed by Spartan.”

Then the plot thickened. “During this process Mark and I visited KA-BAR in Olean, New York to meet the folks there and tour both the KA-BAR and CUTCO facilities,” Iovito continues. “During the trip we watched the KA-BAR Hockey team and spent some time with the KA-BAR families. Several months later, I traveled up to Olean again along with our machinist/programmer to assist with some CNC tooling. During this trip, I jokingly said to John Stitt, ‘Ever think of buying a small knife company in North Carolina?’ We both laughed and went back to work.” The seed, however, had been planted.


Exploring Fertile Soil

“A few months later, John called our shop and asked if we had given any serious thought to selling Spartan Blades,” Curtis recounts. “We were a little surprised but explained we had always intended to sell someday but we were planning to do this after a little more growth. He suggested giving it some thought, and we did.”

“Both Mark and I had already retired once from the Army and weren’t getting any younger. We asked ourselves what we wanted to happen to the company after we were gone. We both agreed it would be nice to see the company live long past us and thrive. We knew how important family and tradition was to KA-BAR/CUTCO and truly liked all the folks there. We simply thought they were the best match for Spartan Blades due to common ethics and military connections. After several months of due diligence, planning and creating courses of action, we called in lawyers to make it more pleasurable! Yes, I’m being facetious. We formed a new corporation called Pineland Cutlery, Inc., which now does business as Spartan Blades.”

The Pineland Strategy

In essence, forming Pineland Cutlery gave Spartan Blades the opportunity to expand many times over. KA-BAR Marketing Director Joe Bradley notes, “We got to know Curtis and Mark on a professional and personal level and this was really the catalyst for what would become Pineland. The more time we spent around Curtis and Mark, the more we liked them. KA-BAR is very much a relationship-based business and there are few people we have encountered with the work ethic, attitude, trustworthiness and humor Mark and Curtis have. Their products are a reflection of them — top shelf.” Through much discussion the new partners came up with a strategy that not only carries on the Spartan Blades name, but introduces them to a broad, devoted user base KA-BAR has developed for over 100 years.

The Pineland strategy is to offer three distinct grades: Gold, Silver and Bronze. “This is our effort to bring Spartan Blades to a variety of people by giving them price options,” states Iovito. “For over a decade we have made what are considered to be some of the best knives on the market — but often at a price point that was out of reach for many. The Silver and Bronze line is our effort to bring quality knives to the price conscious consumer. We feel we can do this by giving our customers options and being honest with them about how they are made. The Gold line will be made in our North Carolina shop only using American-made materials. The Silver line will be made in New York by KA-BAR, and finally our Bronze line will be made in Taiwan. Spartan Blades Gold Grade knives will continue to use top-of-the-line proprietary steels. We have always used premium steels. Currently we are using CPM S35VN and have begun transitioning to CPM S45VN for our Gold line, which is the latest quality steel from Crucible Steel out of New York.”

“KA-BAR brings their expertise of using more affordable steel to the Silver Grade knives,” Bradley adds. “KA-BAR is known for using 1095 Cro-Van, a great value steel. Pineland allows our companies to perfect what we do best and complement one another.” Silver Grade users will get the benefit of Spartan’s innovative designs in a proven, hard use steel that won’t bust their budgets. Bronze Grade knives will be for entry level knife buyers, who typically buy offshore products, to get their feet wet, but often move up to higher grade cutlery as their interest in knives intensifies.

Pallas Folder

Harsey Folder

Rising To The Task

Longtime Spartan Blades devotees have no fear, Mark and Curtis will still be at the helm of Spartan Blades/Pineland Cutlery with Carey serving as President of Plans and Operations and Iovito as President of Product Development & Marketing. “Expect to see several new folders this year, two in the Gold line and three in the Bronze with designs from William W. Harsey, Jr. and Les George,” Curtis relates. The Gold and Silver grades have already been incorporated in the Pineland Cutlery line and the Bronze line should be fully incorporated by the time you read this.

Sparta is definitely rising and with all the options knife users now have we think you’ll be seeing the Spartan Blades logo on a heck of a lot more knives. Rise and shine!

For more info: Spartan Blades, (910) 757-0035,

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