Still Stokin' Hot

Columbia River Knife & Tool
Continues to Fan the Flames
4

Caswell Provoke

Left: Halligan K.I.S.S. Right: Voxnaes Pilar

Ikoma Seismic

Columbia River Knife & Tool recently celebrated 25 years as one of the hottest cutlery companies on the planet and brought with it a major change. Founder Rod Bremer announced his plans to retire from the President’s role of CRKT (as it’s commonly known) and he didn’t have to look far for his replacement. Mark Schreiber, his son-in-law, had been a longtime employee of the company and was deemed the perfect fit to replace Bremer. We were chompin’ at the bit to find out more about Mark and get his thoughts on taking over the reins.

We started by asking Mark to give us a little career background and inquired as to how he came to join the company. “Prior to joining CRKT, I lived in the world of software and IT. I graduated college with a Computer Science degree,” Mark tells Handgunner. “I was working at a company that developed software for online banking, leading teams that implemented the online banking websites for some of the largest financial institutions in the U.S. and abroad. My introduction to CRKT and the world of knives started much earlier when I married my wife, Thea, Rod’s oldest daughter in the summer of 1994 — just a few months after Rod founded CRKT. I got a front-row seat to see Rod build CRKT from the ground up with incredible grit and determination.”

While not a huge knife enthusiast initially, Schreiber found himself drawn into the world of sharp steel. “Rod would always show me the latest knives they were working on and share stories of his travels across the country and the world to meet designers, customers, attend trade shows, and visit factories,” Mark informs us. Then a chance fishing trip sealed the deal. “We went up to Alaska to fish for halibut and salmon. It was an absolute blast. Knifemaker and designer Russ Kommer was living up there at the time and took us everywhere, giving us the full Alaska experience. Knifemakers Brian Tighe and Greg Lightfoot went halibut fishing with us, and I just remember the passion that everyone had for their craft, the respect they had for each other, and the camaraderie between them and Rod. They each had their own unique style and background, yet all came together over the common bond of knifemaking. It was amazing to see that.

“I was fascinated by it all and expressed to Rod that if there was ever an opportunity where it would make sense for me to join the family business, we should talk. That opportunity came in 2010 and, after several months of discussion to make sure the decision was right for our family and CRKT, I made the leap and joined CRKT in November 2010 as the IT Manager.”

Bona Fide Field Strip Gen II

Joining CRKT set the ball rolling for things to come. “I spent my first year at the company as the IT Manager learning our systems and processes, developing new reporting to help us make better decisions, and integrating systems to improve efficiency,” Mark notes. “I then spent a year as our VP of Operations where I was responsible for planning, organizing, and directing the distribution operations of the company. I then spent two years in the role of Executive Vice President, where I worked with the company’s management team to implement the CRKT’s strategic plan and execute programs that led to further growth of the company. I was promoted to President in 2019 and at the same time Rod moved into an advisory role. It was important for us to have a smooth transition, so over the next few years Rod and I worked closely together as I took on more of the day-to-day responsibilities as Rod stepped back.”

We asked Mark what he thinks has been the key for CRKT’s success over the years. “It all starts with our incredible team and the grit and passion they bring each day,” Schreiber states. “We’re a family business, have been that way from the start, and we’ve managed to keep that family feel even as we’ve grown.”

Carson M16

Rogers CEO

Talent A’Plenty

CRKT was also one of the first cutlery manufacturers to embrace collaborations with custom knifemakers — a widespread practice today. “Another huge part of our success is the custom knifemakers and designers that we have been fortunate to collaborate with,” says Mark. “CRKT simply would not be what it is today without them. That, combined with our willingness to take risks on unique designs and mechanisms along with our constant quest to push the envelope, has brought fresh designs and mechanisms to our customers.

“Our early collaborations with Ed Halligan on the K.I.S.S. and Kit Carson on the M16 models launched CRKT on the trajectory we are on today. We’re incredibly proud of the fact that, while we may not have been the very first company to collaborate with custom knifemakers and designers, we did it on a greater scale than was seen before and created a model that has been emulated by many other knife companies. We truly believe that our extensive collaborations with custom knifemakers and designers is what sets CRKT apart from every other knife company.”

How popular is the Kit Carson M16? There are 34 different models in the current CRKT line. Halligan’s K.I.S.S. is still very much alive in both plain edge and serrated tanto versions. These are pictured here as well as much more recent designs such as Joe Caswell’s intriguing Provoke folding Karambit, Flavio Ikoma’s hi-tech Seismic missile, Jesper Voxnaes’ handsome runt Pilar, and Richard Rogers’ super slim CEO. Also included is the new for 2021 Jesper Voxnaes Bona Fide model featuring knifemaker/designer Ken Onion’s Field Strip Gen II technology for easy take down, cleaning and reassembly.

So where does Columbia River Knife & Tool go from here? Mark gives us a glimpse. “Working closely with our designers and our amazing leadership team, you’ll continue to see CRKT push the envelope and introduce new game-changing innovations and designs. Form will always meet function at CRKT, as evidenced by the new technologies and products we’re offering in 2021 — and we’re very excited about the future. In a nutshell, I’d say we see plenty of opportunities to grow and expand in the coming years by driving innovation and intelligent product design. As for specific products beyond 2021, well we can’t let that cat out of the bag just yet but suffice to say it’ll be worth staying tuned.”

For more info: CRKT.com

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