Pet Age recently touched base with Randy Lowe, owner of Precision Sharp, to discuss how he went from sharpening shears at trade shows to creating custom grooming scissors.
Q What inspired you to start Precision Sharp?
A After years of being a machinist, I bought a sharpening business and Precision Sharp began in July 1991. I was cold calling beauty salons, which quickly led me to grooming shop referrals. My first show was a very small beauty show in a Radisson Hotel in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I found out very early in my new career that the beauty industry seldom needed [its] shears sharpened. Pet groomers, on the other hand, had piles of scissors, blades and clippers that needed to be serviced. I increased my focus on pet grooming and within a year had a very nice selection of beauty and pet grooming shears available for sale. The original Monks K-9 by Carl Monkhouse were among the first pet grooming shears we sold.
Q How has the grooming industry changed over the past 25 years? What is currently the most popular trend?
A The grooming industry has grown to proportions I never envisioned in 1991. The first grooming shows we attended in the early 1990s had what seemed like a large variety of companies selling different items. The big guys then were Frank Rowe and Son, and Fine Edge [now Groomer’s Mall]. Little did we know, in 25 years that, as the industry grew, so would the level of competition. Some of the biggest changes I see in the grooming industry is product availability and the level of education available. The internet has become a valuable tool. I recall recently the owner of a catalog company saying five years ago, they sold five percent of their product online, and today, [the company is] selling 52 percent of [its] business via the internet. With the growth of the internet, not only can customers find products and services, but they can further their education with online seminars. The internet has now brought scissors from all around the world into the hands of groomers.
Q You carry a line called the Precise Cut scissors. How has the line been received?
A Scissors are like shoes. Not every foot is the same, so a shoe will feel different on every foot that goes into them—same as scissors. Each pair can feel different to different people by the way they are manufactured, sharpened, the weight of the blades, tension adjustment, and the list goes on and on. Precise Cut scissors began in the mid-1990s. Before we were unable to secure the original brand of scissors we carried, I started sourcing my own semi-finished scissors. Over the years, by experimenting, my custom work began. The customization included bending the blades to a standard curve and the handles into bent shanks. In more recent years, I pioneered customizing to a new level. I created the super curve together with curving chunkers and thinners. I’ve shortened handles for those with smaller hands, moved and bent finger rings and shanks to accommodate persons with deformed hands. I can adjust the thumb position wherever the user requires. Every scissor in the Precise Cut line is available with adjustable thumb positions and unique customization for the perfect individual fit for every groomer.
Q You attend many grooming expos and dog shows. What do you learn from attending these events?
A We now do approximately 20 shows per year across the country, including pet expos, grooming shows, AKC dog shows and small seminars. The shows put me face to face with customers and their individual needs.
Q What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A I feel gratitude when I can take a scissor and move the thumb ring and twist it and bend the blades and the shanks into the perfect position. The bigger satisfaction comes when they eventually send me all their shears (even other brands) to customize for them. It is rewarding for me to have customers that I met at those first shows 25 years ago continue to use my services, buy products from me and ask for guidance. It’s the people that have made this rewarding for me. I learn and experiment every day. I feel even more gratitude when I see others copy my designs and modifications. That’s when you know you really did something good for the industry.