The History of Klein Tools®

By: CableOrganizer®

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If any company has come a long way in more than 150 years, it's Klein Tools®. Founded by German immigrant Mathias Klein in 1857, the company has evolved from a one-man metalworking business in Chicago to a global leader in hand tools. Around the world, professionals in the electrical, telecommunications, construction, mining and electronics industries trust the quality and workmanship of Klein Tools® to help them get the job done.

How has Klein Tools® come so far? It's been a long journey, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of five generations of Kleins, Mathias' legacy is carrying on stronger than ever. Here are a few of our favorite highlights in the history of Klein Tools®.

  • • It was the year 1857 when Mathias Klein hand-forged the first official pair of Klein® pliers… in two separate installments! As the story goes, a telegraph lineman brought a broken pair of pliers into Mathias Klein's Chicago forge shop. Klein forged a new pliers-half for him, and attached it to the older, remaining half of the tool. Soon after, the lineman returned… the second original half had broken! So, Klein forged another new half to replace it, riveted the two Klein-made halves together, and there you have it: the first complete Klein® pliers was born!

  • • During the 1860s, the Civil War brought an increased demand for telegraphic communication. This telegraph industry boom meant that more professional linemen — equipped with the proper tools — were needed. Thanks to his talent for crafting durable hand tools, Mathias Klein's business prospered. It continued to do so through the rises of the telephone, electrical, and railway industries later in the 19th Century.

  • • The 1910s saw American industry — and Klein Tools® — rapidly expanding. Up to this time, Klein Tools® had been known for their signature product: lineman's pliers. As it turned out, that wasn't enough… so the company added an additional 100 types and sizes of pliers to their repertoire!

  • • In 1968, Klein Tools® saw the need to expand their product line to include leather and canvas products, as well as occupational safety equipment. In the interest of growing the business in this direction, Klein® acquired the R.H. Buhrke Company of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

  • • In 1972, the company added its first international subsidiary in Mexico, to create tools and equipment needed as industry grew in that country.

  • • By 1975, the time had come for Klein Tools® to dramatically increase their forging production. In answer to their need for increased productivity, Klein Tools® built a modern, multi-million dollar drop forging plant in Moran, Kansas.

  • • The company expanded further into the leather arena in 1978, taking on the leather pouch manufacturing William Warne Co.

  • • In their never-ending quest to expand their product lines and market coverage, Klein Tools® acquired the Vaco Products Company (of Jonesville, Michigan) in 1986. As a result, the Klein® catalog grew even more extensive, with the addition of new hex-key wrenches, screwdrivers and nut drivers, as well as electrical terminals and connectors.

  • • Over the years, Klein Tools® added new plants in Illinois, including Roselle in 1989 and Schaumberg in 1996.

  • • Klein Plastics came into existence when the company bought plastics molding company KalFact Plastics in 2005.

  • • In 2007, the company founded its affiliate Klein Cutlery LLC, after purchasing Heritage Cutlery, a scissors and shears manufacturer.

  • • Mumme Tools of Australia teamed up in 2010 with Klein® to become one of its sibling companies, the same year Klein® garnered 50% equity in the testing and measurement maker, UEi Test Instruments™.

  • Klein Tools® added another facility to its roster in 2011, with its Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center in Mansfield, Texas. Two years later in 2014 the Heat Treating facility was added to the site, with an expansion of the entire facility in 2015.

  • • Like it did in 2010, Klein Tools® made an important acquisition two years later in 2012, with Brazilian manufacturer Civitella & Cia Ltda. More followed including a strategic partnership and considerable investment in Super Rod installation tools in the UK and Ireland in 2014. In. 2017, the company acquired specialty cable placement tool manufacturer General Machine Products. In 2018, Ergodyne — a safety products company — was added to the company’s lineup.

Shop here at CableOrganizer® for products from Klein Tools, including screwdrivers, nut drivers, scissors, snips, punches, cable cutters, pliers, wrenches, insulated tools, battery-operated impact wrenches, journeyman tool sets, tool bags, multimeters, wire marker books, and more.

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