With the success, was not the little knife from the Maurienne going to be somewhat restricted to the narrow banks of the Arvan? It was already becoming a little scattered. An uncle of Joseph, Pierre Opinel (1829 - 1912) had set up at Plan des Rois, slightly downstream from Gevoudaz, at the lower end of the Fontcouverte commune. His son Jean-Marie (1884 - 1949) succeeded him, and then his grandchildren Henri and Colbert. This factory used the star and the Palme as a trademark. It stopped production in 1967. At its peak, it employed about ten workers and produced more than six hundred knives per day.
Jean Opinel (1877 - 1943), brother of Joseph, first worked with his father and then with his older brother before setting up at Plan des Rois, establishing a new workshop at Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, in 1932.
His sons Daniel and René and his grandson Jacques then managed this workshop. The blades carried the crowned Savoie Cross trademark.
It was taken over by the Joseph Opinel Company which transferred production to the new factory at Chambéry in 1986.
Jacques Opinel took it upon himself to create and run a very interesting «Opinel Museum» where a visit is recommended: between the history of the knife and the video presentation of the modern manufacturing process, one can imagine the scene in front of the forge, the power hammer and the tilt hammer, representing the work of the cutler.
When fully operational at Gevoudaz and le Plan des Rois, it should have been a buzzing hive of activity. The problem was that the population of the hamlet was not always around and it was necessary to call upon men from the surrounding villages : Charvin, la Bise, le Crêt, la Bettaz.
But times changed. The 20th century could no longer sustain a mere craft industry which only really complemented an agro-pastoral activity. If Opinel had remained confined to the narrow gorges of the Arvan, would it have become what it is today?
Joseph saw further ahead and imagined something even bigger. From 1916, he was preoccupied in trying to find a more suitable place for the ambitions which he had concerning the quality of his knives : a true industrial setting. The driving force for establishing his family along the banks of the Arvan was water, and the force of the water that persuaded him to set up at Cognin, near Chambéry.
It was here close to the Capital of Savoie, the Hyères canal working the «artifices (devices)» of sixteen «factory workers».
It was installation N° 10 that Joseph Opinel was to buy, that of J. B. Dumas, a tanner. The machines at Gevoudaz had to be transported on the backs of mules or in carts before arriving at the Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne railway station, and then the journey continued by train. But this constituted a mere start to the operation, as the factory was to rapidly expand after the First World War. Moreover, Joseph was assisted by his children : Marcel (1898 - 1990) who managed the industrial part of the cutlery operation as well as the designing of the machines, products, etc. ; Léon (1900 - 1964), who managed the marketing side of things (managing the sales staff, publicity, customer relations) and Angéline (1903 - 1988) who, before her marriage, looked after the accounting side of things.
The son of Marcel, Maurice Opinel, currently the Chairman of the Opinel company, is still very attached to the canal that played such an important role in establishing his family here. However, there are now other sources of power and the waters from the Hyères are only used for cooling an oil exchanger for example.