In the last two years, Bruce Bohrmann’s knife-making hobby has become a full-fledged business. The 84-year-old owner of Yarmouth, Maine-based Bohrmann Knives can thank “Herbie” for the transformation.
Herbie is the name given affectionately to Yarmouth’s 217-year-old tree, the largest and oldest elm in New England. After many years of treating Herbie and saving it from the extreme ravishes of Dutch elm disease, the town finally felled the beloved 110-foot tree in 2010.
To preserve the legacy of Herbie, its lumber was sold to area artisans and craftsmen. One of them was Bohrmann, who began limited production of a “Herbie” knife.
As word spread about the commemorative knife — and orders started pouring in from all over the country — Bohrmann realized he needed help. So he turned to SCORE, which provides mentors and other support for aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses. The organization matched Bohrman with volunteer mentor Skip Orem, who provided advice on pricing and marketing, among other areas.
As reported by this Portland Press Herald article, Bohrmann Knives now does business in more than 40 states. Its international clients include a Saudi prince, many European customers and Harrods, the London luxury department store. In August, the SCORE Foundation recognized Bohrmann Knives as an outstanding business launched by someone 50 or older.
Bohrmann, who hand crafts his knives one at a time, is always thinking about other projects. His new Heritage series will use wood from the estates of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers.
“Herbie died and gave me life,” he said.