Board of Regents
Board of Regent members are actively involved in the direction and programs of the organization. They contribute personal time, expenses attending meetings and resources from their companies. The Board of Regents meets four times a year, and board members serve on AKTI committees that hold monthly conference meetings.
CEO, 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 Vice President
Director of Marketing, W.R. Case & Sons
John Sullivan, Director of Marketing at W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co. in Bradford, PA, has been involved in the knife industry for 20 years and served on the AKTI Board since 2012. John says “AKTI is vitally important to the industry, given the current political and economic pressures that face all of us as knife manufacturers. Their good work allows a company like W.R. Case & Sons to remain a leader of hand-crafted traditional folding knives, fixed blades and collectibles for well over a century.” He added that consumers are just as passionate about the work AKTI does in defending their legal rights as U.S. citizens to own and carry such knives.
AKTI Past President
Chairman, 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.
Category Manager of Knives, Gerber
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
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.”
Vice President of Marketing and Global Business Unit Leader, Acme (Camillus Knives)
Rick is responsible for the Clauss®, Camillus®, Cuda® and Western Brands and has been with Acme for 10 years. Rick is responsible for numerous industry accolades including Good Design® and IDEA awards as well as multiple issued and pending U.S. Patents. Rick is an avid hunter and nationally sponsored offshore fisherman, commercial fisherman and a licensed Charter Captain and competes in many offshore fishing competitions annually. As the oldest knife brand in the USA, Camillus is both honored and passionate about knife rights and is eager to participate assist in the defense of our freedoms.
President and CEO, The Ontario Knife Company
Ontario 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.
Morgan A. Taylor
President, BTI Tools, LLC
As President of BTI Tools, Morgan strongly believes that AKTI is the front line of defense for ensuring our right to carry and use fundamental cutting tools. It is an extremely important organization for the survival of knife rights and our freedoms.
CEO, SOG Specialty Knives and Tools
SOG® 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.
AKTI Legal Counsel
David Meredith, attorney at the law firm of Meyer, Darragh, Buckler, Beneck & Eck in Pittsburgh, PA, volunteers legal service to the organization and its members. David received a Bachelor’s Degree in Michigan State University his Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He attends AKTI Board of Regent meetings, is actively involved in writing and interpreting knife legislation, and assisting members with legal questions.
AKTI Executive Director (Ex-Officio)
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.