The squeal of pulleys bounced off the walls of Anthony Sampogna’s truck as he donned his cloth mask and plugged his ears. For 40 years, he’s started each job this way.
The 60-year-old Miller Place resident’s trained eyes barely winced as sparks flew from the shears he was sharpening for Viaggio, a fabric manufacturer in Farmingdale.
Sampogna started running Vets Sharpening Service at the age of 20 after he inherited the mobile grinding business from his father, John, in 1971. According to Sampogna, the community of grinding trucks on Long Island is small, made up of fewer than 10 people. But there is still a demand for on-site sharpening.
“It’s always changing,” he said of the business. “I meet a lot of new people.”
Sampogna says he still sees customers every day, perhaps because of the dwindling number of grinders. He and Steve Silverman, the owner of Viaggio, don’t remember how or when they met, but they see each other regularly so Sampogna can keep the company’s scissors sharp.
Silverman said Vets has been an important part of his business because he is able maintain the integrity of his product without wasting time and money repairing and replacing dulling equipment.
Sampogna also services such industries as beauty, dog grooming and restaurant. Sampogna said his truck is perfect for his customers. He is able to repair and sharpen their tools on-site and provide them with loaner tools while the work is being done to avoid downtime.
Sampogna said his customer base is mostly commercial, but now and again he’ll drive through a neighborhood with his bell ringing and get stopped. When that happens he’ll get a line of people at his truck looking to have household scissors, cutlery sets and even lawn mower blades sharpened. Owners often will stick around to watch the process.
Sampogna says he's happy that his job requires him to travel all over Long Island.
“I get to see parts of Long Island that a lot of other people don’t,” he said. “... It stops it from being monotonous.”