Driven By Designers: Inside our Custom-Designer Partnerships

“I don’t think people understand how much time it takes. When we say it takes 15 months to develop a knife, I don’t think people understand just how much of that is full of communication,” muses Doug Flagg, VP of Marketing and Innovation.

Hardly anyone better understands this timeline and the challenge of converting a custom knife design into a production model better than Doug. His job includes the management of back-and-forth communication between designers and the CRKT® development team, as well as the thousands of details that need to be accounted for throughout the process. In the end, though, when a new CRKT® knife hits the market and it becomes someone’s invaluable, trusted go-to, it’s all worth it, and it anchors us to our values and the reasons why we started this business in the first place a quarter century ago.

Founded on Clear Values

When CRKT® was born, Founder Rod Bremer made a decision that instead of using algorithms and market research to determine what to create next, he was going to found his business on the real artistry, craftsmanship, and vision of the men and women that are among the most respected in the industry. Though some of our competitors deem this burden of time too heavy to bear, choosing to do it this way, for us, has made all the difference. Now, with over 50 designer relationships under our belt, we can confidently say the decision was spot on.

Fortified by Relationships

“Flavio Ikoma starts WhatsApping me at 5am; Joe Caswell is a night owl and is texting me at 11pm. You just never really know what a day is going to be like,” explains Doug, emphasizing that when it comes down to brass tacks, it’s as much about the personal relationships as it is about the creations. It’s no secret why you’ll see many of our past and present designers at the CRKT® booths at the major trade shows. They take great pride not only in their custom work, but also in the production models they had a heavy hand in bringing to life.

“Flavio Ikoma starts WhatsApping me at 5am; Joe Caswell is a night owl and is texting me at 11pm. You just never really know what a day is going to be like” - Doug Flagg, VP of Marketing & Innovation.

Driven by Designers to the End

“I am not able to make very many custom knives a year, so without CRKT®, most people would never even have the opportunity to own one of my knives,” explains Flavio Ikoma, designer of

Deadbolt and the new Seismic™ in which it’s housed. That said, “there is a necessary difference between one of my custom designs and the production version of it due to the factory’s equipment and other outside factors. I have sent CAD files and prototypes, and the factory had to modify them to fit their factory capabilities. Making the factory understand what it is that I want and what it should look like takes a bit of time, but in the end it always comes out right."

“Innovation can make a brand and change the landscape. It’s an overused word, and an underused concept,” says Doug. But when we let the designer guide the process, and make all the critical decisions necessary to maintain the integrity of their original design instead of letting an in-house engineer or the factory engineers call the shots, the end product ends up so much more beautiful, useable, and closer to the original brilliant design that attracted us to it in the first place. That, to us, is what it’s all about.

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