Thursday, September 4, 2014

Vanished Tool Brands: Dunlap

Above, ignition wrenches, a gear wrench, pliers, screwdriver, push drill, ratcheting screwdriver and feeler gauge I've found with this name.  I like the "Approved Tools" mark on the pliers, which begs the question, "Approved by who?"

Dunlap was a Sears economy brand, introduced in 1941 to replace their "Companion" brand.  The Dunlap brand was discontinued in the late 1950's, with the "Sears" brand taking over.  Interesting, in the late 1980's the "Companion" brand once again appeared, supplanting the "Sears" name for the company's cheaper line of tools.

According to the Sears Archives:

"In 1927, Sears hired Arthur Barrows to head the company’s hardware department. Barrows knew hardware and wanted to create a brand name for Sears that distinguished it from other manufacturers. Barrows liked the name Craftsman used by the Marion-Craftsman Tool Company and reportedly offered Marion-Craftsman $500 for the rights to use the Craftsman name on Sears products. 
When Sears promoted Arthur Barrows to West Coast Manager, he hired Tom Dunlap to take over the hardware department. Dunlap immediately upgraded the quality of the tools. America had moved into the automobile age and Dunlap recognized that Sears needed a line of high quality tools to meet the new demand. He threw out the big, clumsy, cast-iron hammers and wrenches, and the soft screwdrivers leftover from the days when farmers were the company’s biggest customers. 
Tom Dunlap understood the pride mechanics took in their tools and how they meticulously cleaned them each day. To improve the look of Craftsman tools, he added chrome plating to improve the finish, color, and trim on wrenches and sockets. He also added high impact plastic handles on screwdrivers. Dunlap’s former boss, Arthur Barrows did not think it made sense to chrome plate a tool that someone would “slug the hell out of”, but Dunlap’s persistence paid off when sales of the full-polish, reliable, good-looking, and easy-to-clean tools increased six times the next year."

Apparently as recognition for his work, Dunlap's name was used on the cheaper line of tools.  He must have been so proud.

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