TOPS Knives Founder Passes Away

Last week TOPS Knives made a sad announcement: company founder Mike Fuller passed away earlier this month.

Fuller founded TOPS in 1998. Originally intended as a specialty knife shop for first responders, the company grew over the years to incorporate designs for outdoorsmen, workers, and knife enthusiasts of all stripes, while still maintaining that core hard use philosophy. “[Fuller] started TOPS in 1998 with the goal of making knives for military and first responders that they could trust with their lives when they needed them most,” the company wrote in the official social media post announcing Fuller’s passing. “Over the years, he was quite successful at doing that and the growth that has come about because of that is the proof.”

As he grew his company, Fuller also established himself as a stable presence in the larger knife world. “Mike had a way of connecting easily with people, making them feel comfortable, and helping them succeed with no thought of recompense for himself,” TOPS wrote. “He was there with guidance and advice for many in the knife industry whenever they needed it.”

When Fuller retired from the day-to-day management of TOPS in 2015, he passed the reigns over to then-company VP Leo Espinoza. “As Leo puts it, he had the gift of gab. He could sell knives to anyone and was a savvy businessman,” continues TOPS. Even after his retirement, Fuller remained an active presence in the TOPS crew. “[Leo] always said that Mike was his mentor and whenever he needed help with a decision Mike was there. TOPS Knives will continue carrying on the legacy that Mike built by honoring his memory and vision for the company.”