After spending eight years in the United Kingdom, Andrius Tričius returned to his hometown Ukmergė and started a business making knives. His creations, costing hundreds of euros, have successfully attracted foreign buyers, and the demand in Lithuania is growing as well.
Settling in the UK was a challenge at first due to language barrier and low pay, he says.
“I began as an assistant in construction [and] I remained in that field, it’s just that my positions changed. We also had a construction business, but it was unsuccessful.”
However, living abroad felt like the days were just racing by, Andrius says.
“There’s never enough time for anything there – you wake up at six, get back home by eight. What can you get done? Nothing,” he says. “You work on Saturdays, because you’re being paid for the whole day [...]. But eventually you understand that you keep running, but what’s the point? Time is being wasted.”
From gift to business idea
Back in Ukmergė, Andrius worked at a construction company, then opened his own pizza restaurant and a car wash. The idea for a knife-making business came when a friend gifted him a knife.
“I always liked constructing something, I had tried making knives as a child as well. I would always craft something,” says Andrius. “When I became interested in knives, I learned everything by myself. At first I couldn’t even sharpen a drill, but my friend taught me how. Everything else is from the internet – you search, read, gather information.”
A few years later, Andrius decided to turn his hobby into a business.
“I had to buy this workbench, and wondered whether I should buy it or not. It cost some 5,000 litas [around 1,500 euros]. Then I decided that if I’m going to buy this, I have to start taking this seriously. And so I did.”
The knifemaker set the goal to manufacture some 30 knives a month. Andrius did not invest money in marketing, relying on word-of-mouth advertising.
This year, Andrius’ knife factory TRC Knives is celebrating its 11th anniversary.
“You don’t think about whether it’s going to be hard, because if you want it, you will succeed. I didn’t listen to anybody and did what seemed right to me,” says Andrius.
“If five years ago we would have gotten the kinds of orders that we get now, we would not have been able to complete them because we were notyet ready. [...] But now we feel strong and we can do anything. My aim is to maintain the highest quality possible.”
Perfecting designs for several years
Andrius designs all of his knives, sometimes taking years to perfect the product.
“I have this knife. It took 3 years for it to be made since the first design sketched on paper. When I make the first prototype I carry it with me everywhere, I even sleep with it, and my wife gets angry,” he says. “Of course, it isn’t sharpened, I just look for any mistakes. I need to feel whether the handle is comfortable.”
The manufacturing is done by a team of 11 specialists, and it can take some 10 to 12 hours to produce a single knife. Andrius takes it upon himself to sharpen each product.
“It’s not like you place it on the bench and it’s done. Everything is measured by human hands. Everything has to be ideal, very symmetrical, [...] there shouldn’t be a single scratch.”
We do not take our clients’ designs, he adds.
"There’s a lot of nuance there. People design whatever they want, but it’s not possible. I don’t do what I don’t like. I used to take this up before, but I saw that if you don’t feel love for it, the object won’t be good.”
Over 300 euros for a knife
Andrius’ knives usually cost between 300 and 500 euros, with the most expensive product having sold for 1,500 euros.
“I myself think that we are [...] among the best when it comes to the quality of manufacturing and design, as well as comfort. I buy many knives from many of the best firms and compare them,” says Andrius. “Maybe I am too confident, but I follow the market and see the general context. For me, the bar is set high.”
TRC Knives exports the majority of its production. However, the demand has been growing in Lithuania, as well. Among his Lithuanian clients is the Lithuanian Special Operations Squadron Aitvaras.
“People buy them as gifts, women buy them for their husbands often, heads of companies give them to other [managers]. There are many that buy them for their personal collections, while others for tourism, fishing, and hunters buy them also.”
Passing business down to children
Andrius hopes that his sons can continue his craft in the future. His youngest son works at the factory once a week, while the eldest one lives in the UK.
Ever since his return, Andrius has never considered living abroad again. Thinking back on his time in London, he remembers the constant chaos and bustle of the city.
Moreover, “if everyone worked as much here as they do there”, they would earn as much, according to him.
Andrius plans to build a proper workshop for his company, and hopes that the word of his creations will reach audiences worldwide.
“I want to be like Rolex,” he jokes.