BLADE has learned the unfortunate news that Les de Asis, founder of Benchmade and a member of the BLADE Cutlery Hall of Fame, passed away on Friday, Feb. 21. The announcement came from official Benchmade social media channels.
It is with great sadness we share that Les de Asis passed away earlier today. No words can properly express the sadness of our loss. Benchmade has lost our founder, friend and visionary who built one of the greatest knife brands in the world. pic.twitter.com/dSU3VVYGBS
— Benchmade Knife Co., Inc (@BenchmadeKnives) February 22, 2020
In late 2018, Les turned the reins of Benchmade over to his son, Jon, as reported here. The company was a family affair from the very beginning. Les created Bali-Song®, Inc., in 1980, selling the now-iconic Model 68 butterfly knife. That evolved into Pacific Cutlery Corp. through 1987. Les started Benchmade a year later.
Under his guidance, Benchmade knives became some of the most ubiquitous in the world, supported by the popularity of the innovative AXIS® lock, Griptilian and much more.
Because of these achievements, Les was inducted into the BLADE Cutlery Hall of Fame in 2017. What follows is a portion of BLADE‘s write up from the event. Jon accepted the award on Les's behalf.
Jon explained that his father visited his first custom gun and knife show in Glendale, California, in 1979 and met the craftsmen and marveled at the works they had made and offered for sale.
“I liked that they were independent and developed their skills by improving their products over time,” Jon related his father’s sentiments. “I also appreciated that they were independent and plied their skills in their home workshops.”
At the beginning of his career Les indicated he met pioneer knifemakers like Cutlery Hall-Of-Famer Bob Loveless, Barry Wood, Glen Hornby, Chuck Stapel and many more, talking knives and guns for hours at a time. Les visited their shops and learned how they worked, what their definition of quality was in regard to design, materials, fit and finish, walk and talk, and metallurgy.
“I have been constantly intrigued by all the personalities, processes, materials, artistry and innovation that are present in the custom knife world, and challenged in how to translate them into a unique, high-quality manufacturing environment able to serve an ever-growing customer base,” Jon shared his father’s words. “I confess, it wasn’t easy creating a world-class company, but the journey, one knife at a time, was worth the effort!”
BLADE extends its warmest wishes to Les's family during this difficult time.
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