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Veterans sharpen skills with knife manufacturer

Toor Knives, a veteran owned knife and tool company in El Cajon is ventured out on Black Friday with its new Under the Flag non-profit to provide transitioning veterans training into the workforce. CEO Connor Toor said the goal of the nonprofit is to train military veterans to create domestic solutions for manufacturing in the region. Toor Knives manufactures knives, axes and tools, all created in El Cajon.

“With our presence with the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce and the East County East County Economic Development Council, we have more than 30 connections to manufacturing jobs within 10 miles of El Cajon,” he said.

Toor said the Under the Flag Foundation is a post-pandemic initiative, and as a manufacturing company, during COVID it had to shut down completely. The company went from 15 employees to three and unable to produce anything until he was able to return his employees to work.

“We noticed that some did not want to come back and there was a new work dynamic and ethic on the floor,” he said. “We were faced with the challenge of how we hire now when there are other incentives not to work, like stimulus checks, and who do we hire. We decided it revolved around the people and the process and started focusing on people we know best, which were veterans. Specifically, transitioning veterans who were trying to find their purpose in the civilian world.”

Toor said with the Foundation it is creating an onsite curriculum of free training to individuals with five classes like carbon nanotube technology, manufacturing technology, forklift safety, and OSHA regulations.

“We are taking and training transitioning veterans and qualifying them that leaves us with a pool of qualified individuals that we can hire from, but we can also help them get positions with our manufacturing partners in El Cajon and provide them with qualified candidates,” said Toor. “We want to see veterans get jobs in manufacturing. That is how I found purpose after the war. There is a connection with the work ethic and attitude in the military and how it translates into labor in the blue collar side of the industry. We want to be the segue for these guys and gals for free. We are working with around 33 manufacturers located within 10 miles of El Cajon that are having the same challenges in hiring qualified people.”

Toor joined the U.S. Marines in 2012 as an 0211 combat rifleman, serving in the reserves until 2018 when he received the call to mobilize to the east coast for more weapons training and survival school before heading to Eastern Europe, and then to Afghanistan.

“I was in the tail end of the war and the last part of the kinetic time in the war right outside of Kabul with a team of 16 marines and partnered with a couple of NATO countries and go on missions in an effort to hand off the war,” he said. “Kind of a failed series, if I might get a little political, but we did upward of 80 missions, security operations, offensive operations, patrols and raids. We got to see the real side of that conflict on three different missions.”

After coming home in 2019, Toor said his perspective changed in where he wanted to go with the company, and at that time the company was much smaller with employees, revenue and infrastructure.

“Over the past two years we have quadrupled or more with the company,” he said. “Going with the new perspective with everything I saw overseas, who I wanted to work with and grow this company with is why we started the main initiative of hiring veterans.”

And that is also how his knife making business began, with a challenge from his Marine buddies in 2015 to make a knife for them. He built a forge in his backyard, had a handful of tools, and made a few knives.

“They were pretty bad, but the guys used them because they were really strong,” he said. “To me, it was like the coolest trades a craftsman can get involved in with woodworking, sculpting, forging, grinding. It was everything I liked to do. It was a product that was cool, and I could connect with.”

Now, Toor Knives has more than 40 employees and a state of the art manufacturing facility in El Cajon. Toor said it started with fixed blade knives, then moved to tactical and outdoor knives, just recently beginning the manufacturing of folding knives.

“We also make axes, tools, many pocket tools that can be used for everyday tasks from small pry bars, bottle openers and defense tools,” he said. “Things that I can give to my wife to carry, and I feel safer with.”

Toor knives is at 1488 Pioneer Way, Suite #4, in El Cajon.

or you can visit its website at

Veterans sharpen skills with knife manufacturer

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Source: East County Californian

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