HOW WE BEGAN
Our founder, Les deAsis, began building handmade custom Bali-Songs in the 1980s. The success of these custom Bali’s spurred the creation of the first production Bali-Song®: The model 68.
Benchmade Knife Company was born in 1987, driven to produce product in the US and with a strong commitment to product availability, quality, and customer relationships. Today, we continue to focus on innovation, customer needs, responsible business ethics and operations to bring the highest quality products to the world’s elite.
Like many American dreams, Benchmade grew from humble beginnings...Thus, from a small shop rented in a second-story mezzanine in California, founder Les de Asis incorporated his company as Bali-Song®, Inc. Les actually purchased the original equipment from the owner of a manufacturing operation who was looking to retire. Utilizing the rudimentary technology available to him at the time, he began building handmade custom Bali-Songs (a popular type of butterfly knife originating in the Philippines) with Jody Samson, who ground all of the blades. The massive success of these custom Balis spurred the creation of the first production Bali-Song®: The model 68.
Over the next eight years, the company expanded its notoriously superior product offerings into fixed blades and conventional folding knives, evolving its name from Bali-Song®, Inc. to Pacific Cutlery Corp.
A NEW NAME: BENCHMADE
In 1987, Les reintroduced a new company and new version of the Model 68, this time with a vision to produce in the US, with an even stronger commitment to product availability, quality, and customer relationships. He knew the company needed a new name. While phrases like “Handmade” and “factory-made” aptly described the knives, it was “Benchmade” that truly expressed the quality of Les’ product. He was building an operation that made precision parts, but with legendary American hand-assembly on the finished products. Indeed, it was a “bench”operation and Les wanted the name to reflect this marriage of production manufacturing and custom craft. This sentiment describes Benchmade's position in the market to this day.
BENCHMADE SETS ROOTS IN OREGON
After making the move from California to a facility in Clackamas, Oregon, Benchmade finally began producing knives there under the name Benchmade Knife Co., Inc. This was a major turning point, as the company was now located in the American epicenter of knife manufacturing. With a plethora of technological advancements now possible, Benchmade became the first company to own and employ a high-power laser cutter, which allowed for work with steels previously too hard to stamp. Benchmade also became (and remains to this day) the world leader in automatic knife manufacturing and began to supply military units.
BENCHMADE MOVES TO OREGON CITY
Responding to enthusiastic and growing customer demand, Benchmade moved from the 15,000 sq. ft. shop in Clackamas to a sprawling 144,000 sq. ft. location in Oregon City, Oregon, where the company remains to this day.
With its first ten years of manufacturing experience behind it, and by working with world-class custom knife makers like Mel Pardue and Warren Osborne, Benchmade perfected a business model that involved lending manufacturing processes to custom knife designs, affording a level of innovation and quality to the larger market that was previously unavailable. This template eventually led to Bill McHenry and Jason Williams approaching Benchmade with the AXIS® lock...and the future of cutlery was born.
FOCUS ON ETHICS & OPERATIONS
To this day, the proudly American-bred Benchmade brand continues to focus on innovation, custom needs, responsible business ethics, and operations to bring the highest quality products to the world’s elite.
Now more than ever, we continue our momentum with great passion and enthusiasm. We’re at a critical point in our business as the industry continues to grow, forcing us to really focus our efforts on the recipe that got us to where we are today. There are inevitable challenges associated with growth, but we are confident in our ability to learn from time’s lessons and continually forge ourselves to be better.
- Les de Asis