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.
President, Boker USA
Boker unequivocally believes in the reasonable, common-sense approach that AKTI has taken to addressing knife law changes, dealing with legislators, and solving problems for knife owners and the knife industry. Boker is a renowned manufacturer and supplier of high-quality and innovative knives. Sporting, hunting, collector, and tactical knives are made in the Solingen, Germany factory which is the largest manufacturer in Europe.
AKTI Vice President
President, Columbia River Knife & Tool Co.
CRKT is proud to support AKTI and the common sense, collaborative approach that it uses to advance knife law reforms, promote the use of knives as tools, and educate the entire knife and tool community.
CRKT has been a Board of Regents member since 2009 and strongly believes in AKTI’s mission to ensure that Americans will always be able to make, buy, sell, own, carry, and use knives and edged tools. Born in Oregon in 1994, CRKT is an American company that for more than 25 years has put innovation and integrity first, making a commitment to build products that inspire and endure.
Chief Marketing Officer, AOB Products Company
As Chief Marketing Officer of American Outdoor Brands Products Company, Curtis Smith heads up the company’s Brand Management, Creative, eCommerce, and Digital Marketing teams. He is also a leader in the product development process where AOB creates the most innovative and market-leading products for the rugged outdoor enthusiast. Across nearly every outdoor category, AOB focuses on delivering a best-in-class experience with every brand and product in the portfolio. Smith commented, “At American Outdoor Brands, our passion for the knife industry is demonstrated through the unique offerings from each of our heritage brands. We are blessed with the opportunity to manage several of the industry’s most respected, legacy knife and tool brands, including Schrade, Uncle Henry, Old Timer, Imperial, Smith & Wesson, M&P, and Bubba. We are proud to support AKTI, a group focused on helping build a secure future for knife and tool manufacturers as well as the American consumers who purchase them.”
CJ Buck (Co-Founder of AKTI)
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-’90s. 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.
Director of Product Development, Gerber
Gerber’s unwavering support of the AKTI reflects our commitment to serving knife and tool consumers, as well as the greater industry through communication, collaboration, and community. Gerber has been an AKTI Board of Regents member since 1998. Featuring a diverse portfolio of activity-specific knives, multi-tools, and problem-solving gear for recreational and professional end-users, Gerber is based in Portland, Oregon.
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 the Pacific Northwest Defense Coalition (PNDC) and co-founder of the American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI). In 2010, Les announced that all Benchmade branded products 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.”
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.
CEO, SOG Specialty Knives and Tools
“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, SOG 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.
Director of Compliance, W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company and Zippo Manufacturing Company
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 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 thrive and is a member of the American Society of Association Executives.
Daniel C. Lawson
Attorney and Knife Expert
Dan Lawson is an attorney and knife expert who has contributed a tremendous amount of time to the American Knife & Tool Institute, formerly while with the law firm of Meyer Darragh Buckler Bebenek & Eck, P.L.L.C, and now as an independent attorney at law. Several documents on the AKTI website were authorized by Dan, including the knife laws of the 50 states and D.C., AKTI approved knife definitions, and the AKTI industry knife measuring protocol. He participates on the Legislative Committee and advises on legislative wording and initiatives. Dan has been a life-long knife fan, making knives at an early age, as well as an active hunter, shooter, and outdoorsman.
Charles J. Dangelo
Legal Contributing Counsel
Charles Dangelo is an attorney from Greensburg, Pennsylvania with more than 25 years of legal experience. For 21 years, Mr. Dangelo was employed by state appellate courts, county courts, and administrative agencies, where he assisted judges with the adjudication of cases at the appellate and trial levels. Mr. Dangelo served as Assistant to the President Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, which is the highest ranking law clerk position on the court. In 2011, Mr. Dangelo entered private practice with the law firm of Meyer Darragh Buckler Bebenek & Eck, P.L.L.C. He has an active practice involving civil litigation and counseling knifemakers and sellers. Since his teenage years, Mr. Dangelo has been interested in antique arms and armor, as well as knifemaking. He is very familiar with the law regarding knifes and weapons and shares that skill with AKTI and our membership.