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RANDALL’S ENGRAVING/ How local entrepreneur seeks to share energy and world-class service to promote Hope

By Scott Jester, 11/18/22 4:46 PM

RANDALL’S ENGRAVING/ How local entrepreneur seeks to share energy and world-class service to promote Hope.
By: Scott Jester

Steve Randall needs a clone. He is the head man at Randall’s Engraving deep in the heart of Hope on Division Street.

But, really, after spending a couple of hours with him at his shop, one couldn’t help but come away saying “dude really needs a clone”.

One Randall clone would handle the front desk, greeting customers as they bring in various guns, knives, family mementos and just about anything of wood or metal to be restored or customized. This Randall clone would be talking to each customer through the ideas and details of the job.

The other Randall would be seen darting in and out of the stations in which many of said guns, knives, and mementos were proceeding properly through a series of meticulous stops. This clone is just ensuring things are done correctly behind the scenes.

But from start to finish, you get Steve at his best.

It’s the multitude of non-stop thoughts that seem to race around inside Randall. Thoughts that make his business and personal life a success story right here in a cozy corner of Hope.

Perfection is at the core of Steve Randall’s thoughts and what happens inside the walls of his unassuming building, just down from The Pickett Fence on Division Street.

For those who don’t know Randall and his world-class engraving and restoration service, you are about to. And, it’s a perfect opportunity to introduce his world-class craft in doing so.

Did you know he employs a large crew that works virtually 24 hours a day?  A jovial group with more than 220 years of combined experience.

They treat the pieces that are under their care with respect and what is given back to the owner sort of has their own signature on it. In fact, their engraving is their signature.

“I get off track fast. My brain moves faster than my mouth,” Randall says matter-of-factly in a recent interview and tour of his shop.

“I definitely have OCD,” he continues. “But, what that means in my kind of work, the OCD works, because if something isn’t right, I can’t stand it. My eyes see everything and it transfers to our work. All of this has been good for me and this business.”

Randall’s Engraving began in 1990 with him as the sole proprietor. His work features full gun restoration, from plating, metal and wood finishing and of course, engraving.  Very beautiful, hand-designed, endearing engraving, created mostly by Randall’s daughter. The wood engraving or inlayed on a gun stock or knife handle is unmatched in beauty and quality.

But that’s not all, they also create custom cases featuring only the best quality wood, fabrics and material. It creates the perfect look for any firearm or knife to display at work or home.

Let’s rewind the tape a bit and find out what makes Steve Randall tick.

“As a child, I hunted and fished all the time and camped with my buddies. I was always in the woods,” he recalls.

“But science has always interested me. I also learned a lot from my father,” Randall says.

“He never saw anything that he couldn’t replicate.  He specialized in pneumatic and hydraulic robotics while mechanizing the line at Southland Dairy Corporation, where he was the Chief Engineer.

“It created my love and dedication and skills for the sciences and technologies. I won every Science Fair I ever entered,” he said with a chuckle.

Randall sounds like a real-live “McGyver” from retro-television in our midst.

“In school, I built everything there was to build in the book and I invented stuff too,” Randall recalls as if it were just the other day. “Yeah, and I got in some trouble too,” he laughs.

“I went to work when I was 16 years old for a company called Arum Etchings, which at the time, was also partially owned by Colt Firearms.

“I was trained by a man named John Brown who instructed me in gun fitting, finishing, restoration, and timing the Colt guns. I am also a specialist with Winchester and Remington and other manufacturers.”

Randall has been doing this work now for almost 45 years and no one is going to question his approach to how to delicately handle all types of metal or wood while completely understanding the science behind what he’s handling.

“I do a couple thousand guns a year,” he says without taking a breath. “And, I stand behind every one of them. If I am happy with it, I guarantee my customer will be happy with it.”

Most of all, Randall is a perfectionist.

He makes sure each piece that comes through the door is properly handled and returned in a condition that meets and exceeds the owner’s expectations.

His abilities and services locally have also been held a virtual secret far too long and Randall is out to broaden the businesses’ horizons.

“I’m not the best-known in the business because I’ve been a service company all my life.,” Randall begins.

“But now I’m going into direct marketing. I want to open the doors and the public to come inside the store and see for themselves.

“I want to be able to do gunsmithing for the public and fix their broken guns. I want to restore their great-granddaddy’s gun. I can bring it back to a new life. That’s my bottom line.”

On the marketing front for Randall’s Engraving include plans for a new sign out front welcoming customers to enter and in the near future a possible billboard or two on the highways.

Randall is definitely promoting their Facebook page listed under their business name. The site is filled with examples of the work produced and of many satisfied customers.

Go see for yourself and be part of the many who now follow since the page was launched in April. Even for an untrained eye, you will be thoroughly impressed.

Customers may also visit their website as well at www.randallsengravinginc.net to take a deep dive into their services.

Among Randall’s peers have become legendary but local bladesmith Jerry Fisk, from just down the road in Nashville, to the television series “Forged in Fire” Champion Ricardo Vilar from Brazil.  Both are walking encyclopedias of their craft with rich histories of metal and blade-smithing.

And they look to Randall for his expertise. Right in downtown Hope.

In fact on this day, Fisk was paying a visit to check on work being done for him and had time to voice his support for Randall.

“I am over here quite a bit,” Fisk states. “I like working with Steve.

“He can do some things much more economically and he always has good quality. I trust the work they do and know they have a good eye which is critical for me and the customers I have.

“This marks my 50th year of trying to learn how to make knives,” says Fisk, who has garnered numerous awards for his blade-smithing and world-wide recognition.

“Legend has it that I was born with a Bowie Knife in my hand and cut my own umbilical cord,” Fisk says with a laugh.

But Fisk also notes that Hope has a real gem in Randall because of his flexibility as a businessman.

“What’s good about him is that he can do a large job for an outfit such as Winchester but also, he works with any individual who comes in the store. That is not commonly done.”

It’s a good thing to see a downtown business owner who finds potential not only in their own operation, but to see potential in their location. It helps lift all the other businesses who are filling up building space around him.

Randall’s Engraving would be nowhere without a highly competent staff. They must be as dedicated as well with a similar passion to their work as Randall.

“I have trained everybody here,” Randall asserts. “Typically, we have about 35 and run two shifts 24/7.

“My job here is like a referee,” he says. “I make the calls like”safe “ and”out “. Because this is my passion, I can look at something and instantly assist the staff with whatever it is they bring to me.

“I hired people I knew early on and trained them,” Randall said. “A couple of my employees have been with me for 30 years and we have well over 200 years of combined experience.”

After leaving the interview with Randall, one couldn’t help but feel energized. Some of his “excitement” must have rubbed off. His enthusiasm can be contagious for customers and other business owners.

Because it’s bigger than restoring life to precious possessions, it may also be about bringing added energy and life to a downtown area that is showing a stronger heartbeat.