Marianne Halpern of Three Rivers Manufacturing (TRM Knives) joins The Knife Junkie Bob DeMarco on episode 62 of The Knife Junkie Podcast.
They chat about how the Halperns — Marianne and Les — started in 1997 as Custom Knife Supply with a $2,000 investment, and how their business has grown and evolved from knife supply to making a limited number of high end production knives with the likes of Bob Terzuola and R.J. Martin to the current state of Three Rivers Mfg. and their knives such as the Nomad, the Atlas, the Atom, the Neutron, etc.
TRM Knives are manufactured 100% in the USA and they use designs from Les Halpern and his in-house engineering/design team, as well as designs selected by TRM from well-respected custom knife-makers from around the world.We talk knives -- specifically the Nomad, Atlas, Atom and Neutron -- with Marianne Halpern of Three Rivers Manufacturing on episode 62 of The Knife Junkie #Podcast Click To Tweet
As she noted in the interview, it’s been an “evolution from parts to the whole knife” and you’ll enjoy the interview hearing how they turned a $2,000 investment into a thriving business, making knives that all have some titanium in them with hardware all made in the USA. Another inspiring story of an American made business doing well in the knife industry!
Please call the listener line at 724-466-4487 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments, feedback or suggestions on the show, and let us know who you’d like to hear interviewed on an upcoming edition of The Knife Junkie Podcast.
To listen to past episodes of the podcast, visit theknifejunkie.com/listen.
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Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast your weekly dose of knife news and information about knives and knife collecting. Here's your hosts Jim Person and Bob The Knife Junkie DeMarco.
Jim Person 0:17
Hello fellow Knife Junkie and welcome to episode number 62 of the Knife Junkie podcast. I'm your co host Jim the knife newbie Person.
Bob DeMarco 0:26
And I'm Bob DeMarco The Knife Junkie. Welcome to the podcast.
Jim Person 0:29
Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast. It's the place for newbies like myself, and Knife Junkies like you to learn about knives and knife collecting here from knife designers, makers, manufacturers or reviewers, anyone who loves knives. That's what we do here on the weekend edition of The Knife Junkie podcast where we have an interview. We talked to someone in the knife industry and Bob, this show this week and show last week are the first two shows we've had that we've actually had female interviewees which I find just just awesome.
Bob DeMarco 1:02
Yeah, me too. Me too. It's a it's a great it's a great change. This seems to be a male dominated industry. I know all of my viewers on YouTube seem to be male. And that's great. That's all good. But you know, I know there are some Knife Junkie gets out there. And we want to bring more of them into the conversation too. Right? Yeah. Stacia Jennings last week with Douglas Esposito attention to detail mercantile and but this week, Marion Halpern, Three Rivers manufacturing the whole interview is her So what was your kind of thought process going into talking to Marianne with three rivers? Well, I gotta say I was very interested to talk to her because the knives of the Three Rivers manufacturing knives kind of came quietly onto the scene quietly yet they made quite a ripple with knife critics on YouTube. Their knives are and I mean this in the best of ways, their knives Are understated and they are high performers. By understated I mean they're not big, flashy, crazy designs. They're simple, beautiful, you know, timeless designs and from everything I've heard from my favorite knife critics and others online, they are fantastic performance now, recently Pete from Cedric and Ada channel and also slicey dicey Brian from slicey dicey have both alluded to the fact that the trm The Three Rivers manufacturing Atom which is the three and a half inch, the larger bladed knife is their kind of desert island knife. You know, they Brian from slicey dice he went through this big process of what his he has a great video up right now what his favorite Knife of 2019 was, and he had all these fantastic knives I think he had 12 out on his on his reviewing Matt and he sort of just would pick one over Sing its praises and then eliminate it. And he got all the way down to the trm. Adam and for good reason. It's thin slicing strong, beautiful made of awesome materials. And Pete from Cedric and ADA, from all of his testing, you know, he does all this bro science testing where he cuts ropes and slices, paper and counts. And he does a lot of interesting testing, he came to the conclusion that the atom is his favorite folding knife. Recently. He's been on the show, too. He's a guy.
Jim Person 3:30
Well, that interview is coming up next, but I do want to remind you that our sponsor for today's podcast is QuickBooks. They have an annual event called QuickBooks Connect. It's their annual conference that took place in early November, if you were able to be there. Well, that's great. I know I'd love to go to San Jose in the wintertime here for me in the East Coast. But anyway, they made several announcements at QuickBooks live which is going to help they've got a team of virtual bookkeepers who you can trust to help get your books done right. Another exciting announcement was what they call cash flow planner. This feature uses AI to address the cash flow stress that affects many small business owners, and allows you as a small business owner to predict your daily cash flow 90 days and the future so that you can make plans like delaying paying a bill or requesting invoices to be paid faster, that type of thing. And another exciting feature is QuickBooks payments, which is helping you to get paid faster. We all know how important it is to get money in your pocket. So QuickBooks launched this feature to create a payment enabled invoice in less than a minute. So with hours, expenses and mileage added by AI automatically, it's proven to help small business owners get paid three times faster. So if you want to learn any about these features, or QuickBooks, you can find out and get a 30 day free trial of QuickBooks. Your business at The Knife Junkie comm slash qb 30 that's The Knife Junkie. COM slash QB three zero.
Bob DeMarco 5:08
Jim I think I could use some artificial intelligence in my finances because my organic intelligence isn't doing the trick.
Jim Person 5:15
Some kind of intelligence is always helpful
for you and me both.
Do you like the sound of the alpha numeric combinations m 390 204 p and 20. CV would bristle at eight CR one three mo V and a US dash eight. You are a Knife Junkie, probably worse.
Bob DeMarco 5:35
I'm here with Marianne Halpern of Three Rivers manufacturing. Marianne, welcome to the show.
Marianne Halpern 5:40
Thank you, Bob. This is my first podcast and I hear you're gonna make me very relaxed. Oh, it's
Bob DeMarco 5:45
Yeah, it's all good. You know what we're gonna do? We're just gonna sit here and we're going to talk about knives for a while, something I pretend to know about but something you actually really know about. So I'm Three Rivers manufacturing, also known as trm you started Out in the titanium supply business. Tell me about that.
Marianne Halpern 6:04
Actually, in 1997, we started out with a supply business for custom knife makers. Our original name was actually custom knife supply or something like that. I think I have some business cards that say that unless was a hobbyist knife maker and he needed to have screws that you couldn't just go to Rocky's and get and he convinced me that company in Chicago that would sell him screws by 2000. And he needed about 10 different ones. So he convinced me that if he wanted them, there must be other knife makers that want them that will put 100 in envelopes and send them out and checks will come in and that's how we started in 1997. Then we continued besides the screws, we had carbon fiber and G 10, titanium all things that he wanted, so he convinced me that what our initial investment of $2,000 that we started custom knife supply in about two years in we thought we needed a stronger name So we sat with the person designing our business card and she said, Well, what else do you sell? And we said titanium. So we became helper and titanium. And the rest is history. So almost almost 23 years ago we started and it's always been with a custom my customers and the factories. About 95% of our businesses still knife making.
Bob DeMarco 7:22
So how did this Tell me about this evolution from just supplying the small custom knife makers with the kind of specialized materials they wanted to manufacturing and designing your own line of knives?
Marianne Halpern 7:38
It's a long story. I'll give you the short short version.
Bob DeMarco 7:41
No, no, I want to hear the long story.
Marianne Halpern 7:44
Once you started selling GTN which we think is the best in the world, we started selling it to the custom makers who then showed it to the factories that they started designing knife store and they want to know where they got that and we started shipping, g 10. And Fiber around the world. And then the different knife makers started designing knife for companies. And pretty soon we started making parts for them. We didn't even have a CNC machine yet we had people making it for us. And in 1999, we bought our first CNC mill. And then we bought another one. And now we have about 25 machines. Wow. So we just kept moving taking risks. Anytime you're in business, you're always just out of your comfort zone. We thought to was just great. We made some money and let's just stay like that. But as the market change, we kept going with it and adding machinery and it just kept evolving until about five or six years ago, we decided maybe we'll do some of our own brand because we do a VM products and certainly, I can't release those names and anyone that comes to our shop we tell them that we ever hear anything from them that we're gonna have to kill them. So that's something some people do know some things, but we've got some great people that know that they'd be tricky. Put under a hat because that's what's made our business that people don't know what we do. We first started three rivers, I really tried to make that connection with hopper. Because we didn't know a lot about knives. We've made thousands and thousands of knives. But a couple years ago, I realized that a lot of new customers don't really want to know about how printer doesn't really matter that much. So I just use that as that we know that we have great experience. We know a lot about knives. We know what our customers like, we have phenomenal customer service, which we started with helping titanium word of mouth out of our house. And then it grew thousands of customers. So that's our motto really customer service. We're kind of known for over the top customer service. And that's what we're going to keep doing. Nice.
Bob DeMarco 9:44
Well let me back up and ask you before you go on. How did it How did you go from making parts for people and just supplying materials to actually OEM assembly of makers knives?
Marianne Halpern 9:57
That's a great question. I gotta try to remember how we did. Get into that.
I think we started making parts for some custom knife makers, mostly their parts. At the title truth, I'm trying to remember who that first one was, I really don't know. Just it was just all part of the evolution as we kept getting different machines. And then we bought water jets and we bought wire EDM and we got burger grinders, we just kept evolving until we were a real bona fide knife factory. And I tell you the truth, I do not remember how that very first one started, but it was just really part of that evolution as customers didn't just want parts. They said, hey, maybe you can make the whole knife. All right, maybe we can make the whole knife in and off we went and, and then once one person knows that we do that, and we just kept adding from there. So he's the first one that breaks ground and then off we go. That's been our pattern and I guess just spoke with our staff couple days ago and said that, listen, I are all in we're making a knife company. We didn't ever think it would get to this point and quite this fast, but the less Few months have been phenomenal. And we're going with it.
Bob DeMarco 11:03
So what was the first knife that you put out there? And what was the philosophy driving it?
Marianne Halpern 11:11
I think the first knife was our Nomad was a small slip joint design that was had. I'm not really sure why he started with a slip joint. I think he was always fascinated with the traditional slip joints. And he made a more modern version of one. It was it was successful, but we were still very entrenched in our OEM project. So it's kind of hard to do. We're still a small company, we have about 20 employees all together, but we're still not a huge company. So it's hard to do your own products and do OEM and sell material. So our company at that point sort of tech took second place. So that knife it had its it's a pretty good life, but we didn't really keep going too much. After that we had we did a bob t collaborative did one with RJ Martin, and the philosophy at that point was that we would do Really high end night they would be production knives with working with the designers step by step and we would make a couple hundred and be done. And we did that with those two knives.
Bob DeMarco 12:11
You said RJ Martin and who else
Marianne Halpern 12:14
Bob turtle chisel so that philosophy started out okay, but then it's like put all this effort into making couple hundred knives and then you're done. It's not really a great model to go forward. So we kind of laid back a little bit for a while and less came out with the Atlas which is a similar version to the Nomad but we could we learned how to manufacture a lot less expensively so we had that about maybe a year and a half ago. That was a good success but slip joints still have a kind of niches we really look for the European market and they're very popular there but it's not a your mainstream choice. Somehow we get stay on this slip joint thing unless made the veto which is a larger version. Again, that again, is that quite the mainstream Nice to have a slip joint. I guess he's on who's on a slip joint kick.
Bob DeMarco 13:04
Got him off that we all go on those.
Marianne Halpern 13:06
Yeah, we did. We I liked him a lot, but it's not everybody does that everyone goes to open that with with one hand then we tell tell them how they have to open it with two hands that way too and they put it back on the table so great to listen to your people.
Bob DeMarco 13:22
Right. One thing I remember about the via tour, sorry to interrupt was everyone mentioned how thin the blade was and how beautifully thinly ground it was and what an amazing slicer. I mean, to me that was the first that's the first characteristic of a trm knife that right
Marianne Halpern 13:38
Yeah, that's a good point that you brought that up because even though you know it's a slip joint that was kind of the beginning of our certainly becoming our brand lightly. We that when we used I think it was the CPU CPM on 54 if I remember correctly on that one. Oh no, actually it was 35 vn But since then, we've been using 20 cv are keeping that Same 90,000 stickiness people seem to really love that slice Enos all are nice will have some titanium and so staying with the titanium liners staying with it 20 cv steel and that lightweight seem to become our thing. And we like it, I think the way to fit or was designed and then neutron, which is almost identical but just in a liner lock is it's a nice if someone were to draw a picture of a knife, that's what they might draw. It's not meant to be scary. It's not a weapon, unless it's on Facebook. So that sort of became our new our new thing. This is a knife. It's nice to meet the United States. We use carbon fiber all the best material we try to use everything us made. We do have custom titanium thumb studs, we make custom pivots and screws. All our hardware is made the United States or carbon or gitana us made and we're proud of that and we're trying to make it at a price point that Maybe for your average person that wants to go to Home Depot and buy a $29 knife. It's not inexpensive, but we're keeping all our models in at 160 200 range unless they get more elaborate scales, which we are also moving into so the neutron bit just kind of put us on the map I guess in terms of our own knife company. It's, it's about I don't have all my facts and figures in front of me but it's somewhere around two and a half ounces. And it's, I don't know three inch thick. I don't have it all in front of I didn't bring all my stats with with a 20 CD. Yeah, it seems to be very popular steel and we like it. We liked it if you like it. You have a great trader locally. aerospace he chewed or no knows how to heat treat that 20 cv just great. And that's kind of become our thing.
Bob DeMarco 15:52
So the neutron is a nice that very popular youtuber and a former guest on this show Pete from Cedric and ADA. Dora's in Australia, when he got that knife I remember hearing in his review that he, he would almost like get rid of the rest of his knives in deference to that one. And just he absolutely loved it. He tested it, doing his usual sort of, he's got this sort of standardized sisal rope test, and it did fantastically, and he just gushed about that knife and I have I trust his judgment. I have not held one yet. I will. Not right. No,
Marianne Halpern 16:30
I agree. I'm gonna have to take care of that for you.
Bob DeMarco 16:33
Oh, man, I love that Neutron
Marianne Halpern 16:36
I did see Cedric. I got some great guys. I have a Facebook group. And every time there's anything out there related to CRM, they let me know. So I got that link and it says he's awesome. It was almost too much when they start comparing it to $450 days is Oh boy. But it's been great. We've got a couple of other reviewers out there that like us a lot, and we appreciate that. Yeah, but sometimes it's a double edged That everyone wants their knife to be as good. They want to love it as much as Cedric does, Nick does and Brian ball does. So we try to make everyone that goes out the door that they can like me just as much as that's a high bar, but we like it because it's really helped us to develop our business and we came out with the add on the appointment the ad was that some people said the neutron was too small. So this was a three and a half inch blade. And then as we were moving along, instead of making just like the neutron, we decided to make nested liners, which then made the scales a little bit more intricate, kind of gave it a different look. It wasn't that same stack look as a neutron we decided to go with over the top, deep pocket carry clip. We get a lot of requests for that I'm not sure I love the neutrons click just the way it is but we go with what people want. That's what we like. So it ended up winning. Too bad grab that he he started to call it the improved neutron what you guys early Can you tell us just to make a three and a half inch blade so now we have a neutron which you love knife the year and now the improve neutron so we got a lot of things going on in three rivers but we're all happy and and I never go home without my neutron unless I can't take his Adam or nerd away from him. Favorite he's got his little pocket nerd that's our latest
Bob DeMarco 18:33
We're going to get to the nerd in a second but I think most knife knife guys knife people knife lovers and collectors love what they just heard from you that you listen to the customer and you know even though you like that the original clip people have been asking for a deep carry clip will give the people what they want. And I think you know as long as that doesn't compromise the ultimate vision of what you're doing. That's exactly how people really want their knife company to be operating
Marianne Halpern 19:06
exactly right. There's certain things that some people maybe want the atom to be dropped shut. Well, it wasn't designed that way. So there's certain things that, well, it's not going to be that way that might not be denied for you, but things like clips are certain. You know, even when we develop the nerd, I have a very active Facebook group and I would put pictures up there. And what do you think about this blade shape? What about that? I think we got the six iteration that became the one that we're actually going to go with. So actually do input, ask for input. We asked them for what skills they might like. I'll throw up some special skills that I only announced in the Facebook group and then grab their purple scales or whatever else I come up with the time to have a lot of fun with that group. I really encourage people if they're on Facebook, to join tycoons really matter. It's a great group. It's not really a group to sell. It can be but mostly people put up stories and I am One of my greatest customers that fell asleep twice with his Adam. It was so late it was in his gym shorts and sleep with it twice. And he let me know that and another one that dropped his Adam off a ladder and could we fix it? Sure, sure, we could take care of that for you. So it's a great group, but even from Instagram and the Facebook group I've had guys that actually helped us out at the shows. And Chad Watson is has been fantastic and he does work for knives. So we have a lot of people that are hoping that maybe we'll pick them next year with just some great guys that that always have my back. In the group, it's great if something goes wrong with a knife. People don't bash anything publicly, they very often will have the respect to let us privately try to work it out. So
Bob DeMarco 20:49
that's how it should be. It's kind of like your neighbors party. You don't call the cops right away. You asked me to turn it down. Well, another thing that struck me immediately when when trm knives came on my radar, which was with the via tour, I believe was the modular nature of it if you want, you can get a whole group of different scales and keep changing it. And I think you also have maybe pivot colors and just other ways you can customize the knife and make it your own
Marianne Halpern 21:20
that we have that we haven't done yet with pivot colors we did, we are doing it with the scales. And I've actually had customers that have bought skills before they got the knife.
Bob DeMarco 21:31
That's also anticipation for for a very cool knife they don't have yet
Marianne Halpern 21:38
a couple of customers have had up to 12 different sets. So that's been that's been kind of fun. We'll keep doing that but that the noise coming out in the shadow, it is going to impact the the mechanisms for that night so we're probably not going to offer that will offer it in a few different scale options, but not that you can We really don't want people to change them and take the night report. So we can't do it without taking a knife apart. We're not going to sell them separately. Oh, right, I neglected
Bob DeMarco 22:08
to mention that very unique fact is that not only are your knives customizable with all these different skills, but you can, you can do that without taking the whole life apart, which is, which is pretty great. So you were talking about the nerd.
Marianne Halpern 22:24
That's the you're calling it a fifth pocket knife. Well, yeah, once again, one of my customers started talking, call it the fifth pocket I that I like it. I'm on it. That's what we're going to call it the fifth pocket. Yeah, it's about I'm trying to think it's about 2.2 inches long. And it's going to have to be D contour scales is also a liner lock. And I have a like a mini version of the atom deep pocket carry clip. And there's only six out there. You sold some prototypes at USN and then we actually We have a waiting list that's been filled. And that will also be get shipped in December.
Bob DeMarco 23:05
So how does that work? Your waiting lists?
Marianne Halpern 23:07
Oh, what happens is, at one point we had 50, Adams on blade HQ and they sold out in three minutes. So we we've been having this problem, we've tried to make things as fast as people will buy them. But so far, we can't do that we sold another waiting list of atoms. A few weeks back, that was another three minutes. So I keep putting up waiting lists. We had a long waiting list of 300 at one point and that kind of got confusing because people would change their mind or move or change scales and the logistics are crazy. So now we've been having shorter waiting lists about 100 at a time of each of our knives, filling them up and then filling those orders in a reasonable amount of time. We have no intention of having waiting lists that go on for a year. That's really just not it's too much stress for everybody. We just want to have a list and you buy them you know know when you're going to get it and we keep you updated. I send out a newsletter every two weeks or so to keep people informed on where how we're doing. And right now we're all over atoms and nerds and neutrons. We just hired another assembler just today to try to keep up with keep a nice even steady flow of parts coming in and ports going out.
Bob DeMarco 24:21
Well, so how does it work? In terms of manufacturing a number of different models at once do you do you tool up the shop for one specific knife and bust that out and then retool the shop for something else or does that
Marianne Halpern 24:35
That would never work that's why
Bob DeMarco 24:37
That's why I don't have a knife company.
Marianne Halpern 24:39
What we actually have is neutrons and atoms. We probably have 1500 blades at some stage, the blades dark path, they take the longest from the beginning to end so we have some blades that are just getting water jet cut. We have some blades that are headed to heat treat. We have another group blazer are going to start getting bevel ground. And then we have some more that are in assembly. So this is constant flow of parts. Right now we have neutrons and atoms are the most but there's different levels for all it's a probably eight different groups of knives of blades just for the atom and the neutron. And the nerd has its own its own as well. So right now we have pretty pretty wild I, I am a whiteboard person, I have more whiteboards and trying to figure out what's where and where it's going next, and who's going to machine what what is a constant flow of all different stages. And that's how we're going to keep doing it. We want to get the atom in the neutron nice and smooth and then we're adding into nerd. And then about a month or so we'll start blades for the shadow. And then we have another five fifth one, that we're no names yet but soon we will release that people will keep their eye. Tell me what is the shadow. I have a few pictures. We've posted multiple Facebook group I do a lot of works in progress in Facebook group seems like Instagram folks like finished nice, they're not really part of a nice and when a whole night is going to use the benchmade to access lock that's no longer under patents, we're not really sure what we're going to call it, we don't really want to make a name up, we're probably going to ask benchmate if we can use that name and pay them for that right to do prefer to do it that way to make up some new name for what it is what it is. So that's going to have an access lock. And we're kind of excited about that. Tomorrow, we're going to get some samples from our custom custom made new wires. We have a spring company Connecticut making for us. We studied what possibly people The only complaint we hear about the access lock is sometimes the wire might break. So what we're going to do is we're going to add one or a set of wires in with each knife. And we're also working with a spring company in New Britain to try to come up with a way that that's not going to be an issue.
Bob DeMarco 27:00
About the Omega spring I've been hearing about the Omega spring problem for forever. And I just I wonder how much you got to use your knife or and what condition those things snap and I'm sure they do. I'm not doubting people. But man, either that's a lot of fidgeting or that's a lot of real legitimate work.
Marianne Halpern 27:19
Now, I think it's the situating part because my social media experience the last several years, it's it seems like you sometimes hear more of a problems then someone wrote me one day and he says he's had benchmade for 25 years. He maybe had one or two break, and I think we're just talking about hundreds of thousands of fidgets and something just might break where we're thinking of possibly because we like to do weird things as possibly taking one of our a few more protos and sending them out to people and having a fidget. couple of laps it on somebody else. fidget a couple hundred more times and see we could kind of get a little pass around. Thanks. See if we can get anybody breaking
Bob DeMarco 28:02
god that is brilliant because you know I I know that a lot of knife companies send their their knives out and they tell people abuse this put this through, put this through the worst you can but in reality the worst is that sort of repetitive stress that it'll go through just from opening and closing it like 1000 times a day and channeling your nervous energy there.
Marianne Halpern 28:24
Yeah, that seemed that was not a phenomenon when we first started this whole that you have to have it that it that you can flick it and you're not going to hurt your finger for the thumbs thought after you flicked it for 200 times. That used to be an issue that wasn't typically the part of the design process. But right now, it is. Its
Bob DeMarco 28:44
first world problems, right?
Marianne Halpern 28:46
It's a hobby and you love them and you collect it. That's our guy.
Bob DeMarco 28:50
Yeah, yeah, it's true. Actually. I just got a I just got a note the front today and I haven't stopped yet. I haven't put it down. Tell me about your design process. Like, obviously, you're not designing for fidget. But you know you're taking that into account but where How do these ideas tell explain how they germinate and then and then the process they go to, to actually becoming a production knife.
Marianne Halpern 29:19
A lot of things less is done some things and other people in house have given some input into some new knives. That's just spends thousands of hours on his computer and playing and making designs and trying to figure things out. And we've done so many things that we never going to make. We might even post that we're going to make it and start making it's just it's just not right. But we finally get it designed that just seems right which was certainly was the the Theodore shake which we then turned into the neutron. The first thing we'll do is he'll make a file and send it to our waterjet we have to flow water jets and just cut some parts out. Our water jet is so awesome. The guy that runs is so good. We can actually make parts cut holes cut locks make a deep pivot and the knife can work as a knife. So we play with it make sure we like it, it works right and then we proceed to start making some blades and off it goes and then anytime we get some input as how our
Bob DeMarco 30:20
from our fans out there and we sometimes take advice and sometimes not and that's kind of where we go with it just that we actually make a knife and less can take it from the waterjet parts and actually turn it into a functioning knife just on a on the retort. We talked before about working with Bob tirzah. Will and RJ Martin. What what's it like for a company like you who has broken away from OEM work and doing other people's work? You've blossomed into this awesome knife company making your own work? What is it like to then collaborate with a legend like either one of those guys?
Marianne Halpern 30:59
Well, both of those guys Some of our first customers and help them that came. So we know both that have put 20 years. So it's just a natural progression to work with people that we have known so long. So we already knew that we knew them, you know, we knew what their designs were, that's how we chose to use them. I got
Bob DeMarco 31:16
you. So did you have any input? Was it a collaboration in terms of the design or just in terms of the manufacturer described that that sort of process I
Marianne Halpern 31:25
would say that it was a design and then in terms of how to manufacture it, that would be something certainly we are blessed with a lot of time back and forth at RJ in terms of things that would make it more manufacturable bobster so that we would ask him step by step certain design ideas, but mostly the manufacturing that would have been in house,
Bob DeMarco 31:43
right? Because that the RJ Martin I'm sorry, what's it called? That knife is beautiful and it looks like an elaborate production to me. The handle is very, very milled and beautiful. It looks like that design and Particular must have taken a lot of
work, a lot of machining.
Marianne Halpern 32:05
And that's what we're doing with our neutrons and our other knives now is that that's going to be an option. I'm not sure if you've seen some of our surface scales for our atom, we're doing more of that as a as an option that we really do like those intricate kinds of other than just flat slaps. You do a lot of 3d surface machining, that kind of kind of set set us apart from a lot of other production knives
Bob DeMarco 32:27
and the designs to you cut I know you cut designs into the handles like, like the atom in the
Marianne Halpern 32:34
under neutron that was just kind of something fun to try.
Bob DeMarco 32:37
So have you made any fixed blades or have any interest in that rather
Marianne Halpern 32:41
fix fixed a many, many years back in and we're just not fixed blade company? And we're not going to pursue that. We make folders?
Bob DeMarco 32:50
Well, okay, so as a folder maker, what what do you consider the pinnacle goal of making a folder and what I mean is as as as an expert as someone who's been creating these, these really precise tools, what what is the ultimate goal for you
Marianne Halpern 33:09
as a company or a knife ?
Bob DeMarco 33:10
I'm sorry as someone trying to perfect a knife. Like what would the perfect knife look like?
Marianne Halpern 33:16
I don't know, seen Instagram lately. I think we've thrown a few of them out there. I don't know. We just keep evolving. I think we add less every day. I love my Adam. I love my Adam. So we just keep taking that and anything we can learn from that we just bring that into the next night in terms of manufacturing. Right now I feel like we hit something right there something that's just very usable but elegant and lightweight and not threatening to people. And we're just going to stay with that. get better at it.
Bob DeMarco 33:46
It looks so precise. I don't know that the the way the whole thing looks just from seeing close ups and video. Now I really have to get one in hand but they look like they're so dialed in. I don't know how To say it with the tolerances and with and with how the lock, you know, it's it's all titanium but there's no stick and all that. I mean, you just seem to have it down,
Marianne Halpern 34:08
we're trying to get it more and more down because some of the things that maybe have some stick or aren't so dialed in, they'll end up getting shipped out. So we're really trying to get that down that they're everything that's we can't You can't have scrap, you can have a tremendous amount of scrap wood, you're not going to be making money. So we're getting quite good at that they are one by one, they are all getting there and that it's not like shooting a custom knife if you if you're going to be a manufacturer and your knives have to be shaped like a custom knife and you're not going to last too long. So we're really trying to dial everything in so we can continue to do that.
Bob DeMarco 34:42
So how does the How is your titanium business now affected by the boom in your knife business?
Marianne Halpern 34:49
Oh really? We still sell some titanium, just the raw material but that never even though that's the name of the company. We never really was a large part of the company. I just sell small pieces to custom knife makers, we just really changed from custom knife, whatever we call ourselves to help from titanium just to make a sound stronger and had really didn't sell that much titanium we do a lot of machining and titanium and we still do and always will. We will never be called helpin. Aluminum we will never night. Yeah, we will be titanium, carbon fiber. So it really hasn't impacted that part. The custom life supply part, we actually gave that up about five or six years ago was just taking a little bit too much time for what gain we had. And there's so many other supply companies. And we just said, we're not going to go that route. We're just going to let that go.
Bob DeMarco 35:40
Well with the slip joints, you've done three, I think three times. So you mentioned the European market before how how are things working for trm in Europe.
Marianne Halpern 35:50
It is very popular there for sure. That's been probably the most popular knife that we have there. But I think we are We also do sell neutrons and atoms around the world. So far, we haven't haven't lost too many cities, Australia has been a little bit of a problem. We're about 5050, getting them through customs. So really
Bob DeMarco 36:10
what happens to them, they send them back to you or do that. Just put them in their pockets.
Marianne Halpern 36:14
We're not sure they kind of sit there for a few weeks. And sometimes they come back to us or sometimes they don't go anywhere. But we we keep selling it. We're not going to stop for that we have a few issues with customs, but it's not worth us saying we're just not going to do it.
Bob DeMarco 36:29
Right, right. Well, how do you think trm? How do you plan for it to grow? Is it is it a volume thing is a design thing? Tell me what you think the forward path is for trm?
Unknown Speaker 36:41
Well, it certainly these, the atom and the neutrons become our bread and butter models. And we're feeling really good about the nerd followed by the shadow. And I'll tell you, the new one is going to be called the illusion.
Bob DeMarco 36:53
You have to mention the illusion.
Marianne Halpern 36:56
So expect those to be a real core group of lives and We want to keep making them and keep making our production so we can keep making them. They're all available at some point, or at least you're not waiting for a year to get something that they're all be a part of our, our line. And we're going to keep that same mo thin light, good materials, good blade steel, and they're going to be some variation and not all going to be exactly like the neutron and add on but we're going to keep that same. It's just a nice, nice. I was thinking about kind of contrast between companies that I admire some companies, I'll say like Chris Reeve knives, knives, for instance, they hit upon a design, and they just keep making these amazing knives. But they're very careful about how they roll out the next item, the next knife, and there's something to appreciate in that. That sort of care that goes into really kind of deciding what comes out next. Yeah, I agree. Yeah, absolutely. Chris, Chris Regan. Is the bar in the industry and we, whenever we're compared to them, it's like, it's a great honor. And we're hoping that the Adam and the neutron are ours advances and we think there's a pretty good chance that they can be, we don't need we're not going to rush she how many nights we can get out, we want those to be have a nice solid base and, and gradually add other models, but certainly, many knife companies have a few core knives and they've been making for 30 years. So definitely not a company that's going to make one knife. Nope, you can't get that anymore. Next,
Bob DeMarco 38:31
I gotta say your design language is very universal. It's not trendy. You know, it's popular now. But it also seems like it could be popular, you know, 15 years hence, whereas some, some companies that I also admire, you know, come out with many models a year or multiple models a year, and they seem to be on trend. And it's kind of funny to talk about trends in the knife world, but there are trends everywhere. You know, this one's ended. dyes purple and it has a wardenclyffe blade Well, that's not going to last for too long you know maybe the Warren Cliff played but you know just this idea of putting out something that's that's compelling but neutral in terms of you know, it's not something that looks dated and then just perfecting it year after year and making it better and better and, and just, you know, locking in on a model like that are a couple of models.
Marianne Halpern 39:26
That's exactly what we're trying to do. Kind of a classic look. Not old fashion but just classic and something that you are proud to carry and show your friends. So do you go to all the knife shows can people find you there and talk to you go to blade show we'll do the New York custom knife show in March. We do to us and and unfortunately we just missed the blade show West and we decided that we're going to go to that next year just because some people out there haven't had a chance they don't get the blade show.
We're going to do that one next.
Bob DeMarco 39:57
So a lot of press about it this year. It seems like it's It's gotten maybe it just wasn't on my radar before.
Marianne Halpern 40:04
Much bigger kind of make it make it something pretty good out there. Yes.
Bob DeMarco 40:08
So how do people get into a three river knives? Three river manufacturing knives? How do you how do you find them? How do you buy them? What's the best way for people to to connect with your knives?
Marianne Halpern 40:20
Well, we do have a website, Three Rivers MFG, calm and at this point, a lot of our knives are not available. But what I do is I have a newsletter every two weeks, you have to sign up for our newsletter online, and I give them updates on what a next waiting list is going to be available for the neutrons and atoms and the nerds. And that's the best way to stay in touch. If you'd like to see things as they're going on. Our Facebook group tycoons really matter is very active and I do a lot of I do a fair amount of whining in there, but I do show a lot of what's going on behind the scenes and then Instagram. I certainly post They're Hillary also students not posting just about every day. And we have email. We have a tycoon at three rivers MFG calm Hillary at three rivers nfg calm. Jennifer at three rivers MFG calm.
Bob DeMarco 41:16
They're all so excited. You just gave out their emails
Marianne Halpern 41:18
that Oh, yeah.
Bob DeMarco 41:22
So in conclusion, what would be the knife if you told me I had to have a three rivers manufacturing knife a trm? Which knife would you would you say?
Unknown Speaker 41:31
I love my neutron. It's three inches and it's just perfect size for me less loves the atom. It's three and a half inches. So between either one of those, because I haven't even carried an atom yet because I can't keep up my neutron. And every day I could carry anything I want. I could change the color of the hour, but I just can't seem to get rid of my neutron. So I'm partial to that. And that's what I got to say about that. So either those
Bob DeMarco 41:58
Well, thank you Marianne Halpern and thank you So much for coming on the Knife Junkie podcast. It was a pleasure talking to you and finding out more about trm knives.
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Jim Person 42:13
Back on the Knife Junkie podcast ... Jim and Bob here with you and remind you that if you have any thoughts about today's episode, please give us a call on the listener line at seven to 724-446-4487... 724-466-4487. Bob, as we normally do, we kind of give you the final word and kind of wrap up the interview with a key thought or key takeaway.
Bob DeMarco 42:36
Well, a common theme on this show and in these interviews, I'm really interested to see how people evolve in their careers and in their in their world exploits because I myself have a mission and I myself would like to have myself fully immersed in that world. So it was really fascinating to hear Marianne kind of detail the evolution that to RM went from supplying items supplying supplies to knife makers to actually making the knives, you know, after developing relationships with some pretty hot knife makers, and kind of being around them the whole time, they sort of figured well, we could do this too. And, man, it's just really inspiring to see to see that sort of evolution. So hopefully some of this rubs off
Jim Person 43:27
well, I love the quote and I think I got it right, the evolution from parts to the whole knife, I mean, you know that that kind of shows the, the transition there I guess you will or the, the movement along the line and you know that the neat thing too is that this is kind of one of those industries where Yeah, you could go in and you know, drop off, you know, a wad of cash and just, you know, start off big and doing everything but I think she said they started with like a $2,000 investment. So it's, you know, it's an industry that that you can get into if you haven't The desire it doesn't take a lot of money to make it happen yeah it just shows that with some hard work good people and and and a good nose you can make it happen Thanks so much to you for joining us here on episode number 62 of the Knife Junkie podcast you can find show notes and actually listen to it and other podcast if you go to The Knife Junkie calm and just do a slash and whatever episode number you want to listen to so this one is The Knife Junkie sir com slash 62 you'll find show notes and some other information there and go to The Knife Junkie dot com slash listen you'll be able to find all the most recent episodes there if you missed anything. So for Bob The Knife Junkie DeMarco I'm Jim the knife newbie Person saying thanks so much for joining us on the Knife Junkie podcast.
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