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AKTI's Role:

As a nonprofit association, AKTI’s role is to be the reasonable and responsible advocate for the knife-making and knife-using community, providing the focal point for sensible evolution, development, and the consistent enforcement of knife legislation. Knives are important tools first.

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AKTI Supports Knives for Kitchens and CookingAKTI Supports Knives for CampingAKTI Supports Knives for Hunting

Board of Regents

AKTI President
Rod Bremer
President, Columbia River Knife & Tool Co.

American Knife and Tool Institute board of regents president Rod Bremer is the president of Columbia River Knife & Tool Co.Rod Bremer, co-founder and president of the Columbia River Knife & Tool in Oregon, accepted an invitation to fill a vacancy as a Regent in June 2009. He has been involved in the industry for 23 years and associated with AKTI for a decade. He said he “happily agreed and was pleased to be invited to be on the board.” Rod added that he is passionate about AKTI and its mission, particularly in what he called “challenging times.” He also said that his passion for the industry is stronger now than it has ever been.


ATKI Vice President
CJ Buck
CEO, Buck Knives Buck Knives Logo

American Knife and Tool Institute board of regents vice president CJ Buck is the CEO of Buck Knives.CJ is the 4th generation Buck to run the family business which was started by his great grandfather in 1902, when knives were an essential survival tool for tradesmen, hunters, ranchers and farmers and 108 years later, knives are still an important daily piece of equipment. CJ was instrumental in orchestrating some much needed “one hand opening” knife legislation reform in California in the mid 90’s. That effort evolved with industry wide support into the co-founding of AKTI. Growing up in the knife industry, CJ has watched vague and unclear knife legislation evolve over the last few decades and is highly motivated to make sure that American citizens from tradesmen to soccer moms are able to have and carry knives that facilitate their daily lives with confidence.


AKTI Past President
Bill Raczkowski
Category Manager of Knives, Gerber Gerber Knives logo

American Knife and Tool Institute board of regents member Bill Raczkowski is the Category Manager of Knives at Gerber Legendary Blades.Gerber has been a Board of Regents member since 1998. While the Vice President of AKTI 2009-2011, Bill committed to helping grow membership within the industry. Hew continued that membership growth effort and AKTI’s mission to defend the right to manufacture, import, distribute and own knives in U.S. during his term as President 2011-2013. He is Gerber’s Category Manager of Knives has been in and out of the cutlery business since 1993.


Les de Asis
Chairman, Benchmade Knife Company Benchmade Knife Company Logo

American Knife and Tool Institute board of regents member Les de Asis is the founder and owner of Benchmade Knife Company.As the founder and owner of Benchmade Knife Company, Les de Asis has shown years of dedication to the knife industry. He is the co-founder of Pacific Northwest Defense Coalition (PNDC) and co-founder of the American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI). In 2010, Les announced that all Benchmade branded product would be proudly made in the USA. His undying passion to continually innovate and dedication to excellence has earned him enormous respect in the knife industry and beyond.”


Kenneth Trbovich
President and CEO, The Ontario Knife Company Logo for Ontario Knife Company.

Ken TrbovichOntario Knife Company has been a member of the AKTI Board of Regents since April 2012, after previously being a member of the Advisory Board. Founded in 1889 in Upstate New York, OKC has produced premium knives and tools for over one hundred years, supplying the U.S. military since WWI. Kenneth D. Trbovich is the President and CEO of Ontario Knife, serving as the 9th President in the company’s 125 year history; Mr. Trbovich is also the President and Director of Ontario’s parent company Servotronics, Inc.



Jerry Heinlen
CEO SOG Specialty Knives and Tools Specialty Knives and Tools

Jerry Heinlen, CEO, SOG Knives & ToolsSOG® Specialty Knives & Tools CEO Jerry Heinlen recently upgraded SOG’s participation with AKTI to serve as a member of the Board of Regents, stating “SOG is proud to support AKTI, whose important collaborative education and advocacy programs bring tremendous value to all who make, sell or use knives in America.” Born of the military and located in Lynnwood, Washington, has manufactured innovative performance gear for demanding users for over 25 years, including fixed blades, folding knives, multi tools and other gear for military, law enforcement, industrial, outdoor recreation, and everyday carry users.


John Sullivan
Director of Marketing, W.R. Case & Sons Logo for W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company, a premier member of the American Knife and Tool Institute



Jan Billeb
AKTI Executive Director (Ex-Officio)

Jan Billeb, Executive Director of the American Knife and Tool Institute and an ex-officio member of the organization's Board of Regents.Jan Billeb has over 25 years of experience in nonprofit association management and has been involved with AKTI since the organizational groundwork was laid in 1997. She enthusiastically believes in the importance of associations in advancing American values and helping American businesses and is a member of the American Society of Association Executives.