MIDLOTHIAN – Engraving onto metal is only half the job at On The Cutting Edge, as they etch personalization into the hearts of their customers. From trophies to embroidery and personalized promotional gifts, this multifaceted shop does it all.
“At the beginning of this year, the Lord started leading us into a storefront operation. We went out and started looking for a place, found this place and grew 67 percent. It was unbelievable," said Ken Johnson, owner of On The Cutting Edge. "When we moved here, it opened our visibility so much more. Customers come in and think they're only looking around, but they always end up buying something."
Recently opening their newly renovated location in Oct. 2016, Midlothian’s East Main Street received a gift that keeps on giving. Building between 35,000-40,000 trophies a year, the staff at On The Cutting Edge are the engraving kings of Ellis County.
“There’s nothing that we won’t attempt. If they can bring their vision in, if I can get it out of their head, I can engrave it and meet their need. It’s not just engraving, it’s personalization,” expressed Johnson.
Interest first sparked Johnson’s curiosity when a friend from Lancaster engraved Royal Ranger nametags 22 years ago.
“I was always intrigued about it because we would go to seminars together and I would always see him make these little nametags for the boys, and I said, ‘That is so cool that you do that',” Johnson exclaimed.
Unfortunately, Johnson’s amusement was put on hold when his friend’s house was destroyed by an F-4 tornado, taking the engraver with it.
“His house got blown away by a tornado, and they lost everything. So they rebuilt, and I said, ‘What are you going to do about the engraving? Are you going to buy another engraver?’ And he said, ‘Nah, I don’t think so,” recalled Johnson, remembering the second time an engraver crossed his path, glinting with intrigue.
“At Oncor, they had an engraver machine where I worked. I got it out and started doing some of the engravings for the office. Well, after we got through with the job, my boss told me to set the engraver outside. I said, ‘It’ll ruin outside,’ and he said, ‘Well, take it home.’ So I took it home, and we started that business back up again.”
And as fate would have it, Johnson partnered with his friend and laid the foundation for what would soon be On The Cutting Edge.
“We just did the name tags and then it got to where the amount was getting to more and more, doing more work. I was doing all the work, and he was getting half the money for it. So I decided to approach him and ask if I could buy him out. Everything was perfect timing for it. So he allowed me to buy him out,” said Johnson, who took over the business and ran full steam ahead with it.
What began as a personal hobby in his home soon turned Johnson’s enjoyment into a profitable business.
“We started the work in my home, doing the name tags, and then we started doing our first trophy job with a bowling league. We made 12 to 15 trophies, and I thought ‘This is neat.’ And from there, word of mouth just kept getting bigger and bigger, and before long I was doing it part time at the house.”
As business boomed, the list of customer orders extended beyond his limit, overwhelming Johnson.
“The more people found out about us, the longer I was having to stay up in the evening to fill orders. So before long, it was 12 o’clock in the morning just to fill the orders that we’re coming in.”
Luckily, during this time, Johnson’s job at Oncor offered him a way out, retiring him from 36 years of faithful service. This only encouraged Johnson to plow forward and expand the On The Cutting Edge brand from home.
“I remember I built that new shop in the back, we were using the garage, utilizing the family room, and Sheryl and I were sitting in the other living room drinking coffee when my wheels were rolling on how we were going to expand the eBay business. There’s a lot of shipping involved, and I told Sheryl, ‘I could turn this room into a shipping room,’ and she said, ‘It’s time for you to start looking for another place,” chuckled Johnson, who took his wife at her word.
Moving into a warehouse off Highway 67, Johnson cultivated his clientele rapidly. Gaining more than 21 large organizations, associations, businesses, and a strong eBay presence, Johnson left the warehouse after three years, reopening a storefront near downtown Midlothian.
“The trophy business is our bread and butter, and we do all the trophies for soccer, baseball, softball, and football — all the sports for the southern end of Dallas. When we moved, we decided to open up our embroidery business and the screen-printing business because we had a natural customer base to open that up anyway. And it’s been very good to us. Everything was in God’s perfect timing,” said Johnson.
After renovating their new location in August with the assistance of Johnson’s brother, the store’s grand opening came early October and thrust them into a whirlwind of success.
LIVE TO GIVE, GIVE TO LIVE
Although the engraving business succeeded Johnson’s wildest expectations, he found nothing more satisfying than giving back to his community when the opportunity arose.
“A little old lady walked in, she was 87 years old,” Johnson began, “She was all bent over, and she had a cane in her right hand, and a carried a bundle of hand-made flower pens in the other. She had a whole bouquet. She walked in, and she was the sweetest lady I have ever met, and she said, ‘As you can see, I’m on social security.’ I said, ‘I gathered that.’ And she said, ‘I overspent this month on my bills trying to get ready for Christmas with my great grandkids.’”
“She spent more than she had, taking these flowers door to door and trying to sell them. So I said, ‘How many do you have there?’ She started to count, and I pulled my checkbook out and wrote her a check to get her through the Christmas season. And she didn’t even get out of the door when my phone started ringing with the blessings that God was already sending back to us. The more you give, the more God blesses. And you can’t ever out-give Him,” he said with a smile.
Serving the community with quality is what Johnson, and On The Cutting Edge's team are all about. So what sets them apart from the competition?
“We’re Christian based, every person that works for us is a Christian,” said Johnson, adding, “Customers know we’re a one-stop shop now. We’re doing custom uniforms for a lot of our sports groups, and at the end of the season, they know they're going to get our trophy. So the presidents of these organizations and associations come to they and us really like that we always deliver on time.”
Having the lowest prices on the market also helps out.
“We all get the same supplies from the same vendors, the only thing that can separate us is price and service. We are the lowest price. For one thing, I get retirement from my company, and I’m not depending solely on this for my income so that I can bring the prices way lower than my competitors, and they don’t understand how I do that. And the other thing is customer service. I still get outside the four walls of this building and deliver,” explained Johnson.
CUTTING INTO TOMORROW
As business continues to grow, the future of On The Cutting Edge looks promising with room to grow and the potential of keeping the business within the family.
“My wife and I are thinking about retiring in a couple of years, especially since my son has expressed a desire to take over the business someday. It’ll stay in the family; it’ll be a family-owned business that will carry over to the next generation. Hopefully, his son may take it over some day. We don’t know what the future holds, but I’m trying to build it where it will go from generation to generation. I don’t want to see it die after I leave. I want it to carry on,” said Johnson.
And giving credit where it’s due, Johnson stated, “We give God all the glory and credit for it.”
Visit On the Cutting Edge at oncuttingedgeawards.com or call: (214)-399-0577
— Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer
(469) 517- 1454