ABOUT US IRWIN HISTORY

IRWIN History

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IRWIN TOOLS has a long and storied history stretching for over a century set against the backdrop of a young ambitious nation.

This is the story of two men, from the American Heartland, who shared a deep belief in the idea that with imagination and determination anything could be accomplished.

In 1884 Charles IRWIN owned a pharmacy in Martinsville, Ohio. A local blacksmith who was a customer of Mr. IRWIN's came up with the idea for a solid center auger bit. He sold the rights to this invention to Mr. IRWIN and a year later, after patenting the Auger bit, Charles IRWIN, along with four other business partners formed the IRWIN Auger Bit Co.

About four decades later there was another blacksmith with an idea, this one in the small town of DeWitt, Nebraska. William Petersen was a Danish immigrant who invented the first locking pliers in his blacksmith shop, and began selling them from the trunk of his car to farmers and people in surrounding towns. He patented his new idea and called it Vise-Grip.

It was the beginning of what would become two tool industry leaders, joining forces to create one industry giant.

In 1993 the company's histories would converge. Petersen Manufacturing, which changed its name to American Tool Companies in 1985, acquired the IRWIN Tool Company.

This strategy of growth through acquisition and innovation has been proven with an unparalleled history of breakthrough products. Today IRWIN Industrial Tools is a global company with a stable of brands that is the envy of the tool world. Our reputation as an industry leader rests on the foundation that Charles and William built so long ago.

IRWIN Timeline

1884 - Charles IRWIN purchases rights to solid center auger bit
1885 - The IRWIN Auger Bit Co. is formed
1924 - Bill Petersen granted basic patent for locking pliers
1934 - Petersen Manufacturing Co. formed to manufacture and market Vise-Grip locking tools
1938 - First official Vise-Grip tools plant opens in an old DeWitt, Nebraska drug store with a staff of 37
1945 - First National Hardware Show; Vise-Grip tools are there
1957 - Modern-design 10WR Vise-Grip locking pliers go on the market with curved jaw and wire cutter
1962 - Petersen Manufacturing opens a plant in Cumberland, Wisconsin for manufacturing twist drills
1978 - Petersen Manufacturing workforce expands to 637 people
1979 - Gorham, Maine plant opens, manufacturing Hanson and IRWIN branded tools
1985 - American Tool Companies, Inc. is formed by the Petersen family and acquires Petersen Manufacturing
1993 - American Tool acquires The IRWIN Tool Company, a revered manufacturer of power tool accessories and cutting tools
2002 - Newell Rubbermaid acquires American Tool
2003 - American Tool name officially changes to IRWIN Industrial Tool Company