Leatherman Multitool: Inspired By a Clunker
Tim cut pieces of cardboard to make a pattern for the prototype, which he built in his garage. He shopped the tool around to prospective manufacturers without success, so he decided to manufacture them himself. His first sales came through a mail order magazine. He'd hoped to sell 4,000 'Pocket Survival Tools' that first year, but ended up filling 30,000 orders. The Leatherman Tool Group was born. It currently makes more than a million tools each year in Portland, OR.
Kohler: A Tub Built for Hogs...and Humans
Today the Kohler Company headquarters is in Kohler, WI, and it has more than 50 manufacturing locations, employing more than 30,000 people worldwide. It's one of America's oldest and largest privately held companies.
The original ad copy for Kohler's first enamel tub read: 'Cast-Iron Enameled Water Trough and Hog Scalders. (Five Sizes) When furnished with Legs can be used as a bathing tub.'
Kreg Jigs: Pocket Hole Joinery for Everyone
In 1986, Craig Sommerfeld was in the process of building his own home and wanted a way to attach the face frames to his kitchen cabinet carcasses without nailing through the front of them. Being a tool and die maker by trade and a DIYer at heart, he designed and built his own single-hole pocket hole jig. This first 'Craig's Jig' was made from steel and aluminum, and it worked so well that his friends and coworkers encouraged him to build more.
He changed the name to 'Kreg' out of modesty and started demonstrating the tool at woodworking shows. The professional cabinet shop folks saw the benefit and were the first to buy the tool, but eventually, a whole lot of us weekend warriors wanted a strong and super-easy way to join wood. Today, Kreg Jig is synonymous with pocket hole joinery.