Saturday, December 19, 2015

Vanished tool makers: Lectrolite (updated)


















These wrenches are highly thought-of on tool users' and collectors forums.  Maybe that's why I seldom encounter them.

Below, pliers made by the firm:




According to Alloy Artifacts, the Lectrolite Corporation was founded early in the 1930's in Defiance, Ohio out of a merger than included the Milwaukee Tool and Forge Company.  That company used "True-Fit" as a brand, which morphed into "Tru-Fit" under Lectrolite.  In the late 1940's/early 1950's, Lectrolite entered into some kind of agreement with S-K Tools.  In 1962, the two firms were purchased by the Syminton-Wayne Corporation, and were marked "S-K Wayne."  Then the parent company got gobbled up by Dresser Industries, then S-K was sold to the French FACOM in 1985 before being subject to a management buy-out in 2005.  That didn't go well because in 2010 SK declared bankrutcy.  Four Asian bidders planned to shift production offshore. Fortunately, a fifth, family-owned American company, Ideal Industries, was the successful bidder. Today, all of their nearly 3000 products are made in the U.S. at Colorado Springs and Sycamore, Illinois.  As SK's director of sales and marketing said in 2014:

“If you’re a company working with manufacturers in Asia, you can get decent quality,” he said. “But as a generalization, tools made in the U.S. are of higher quality. And every year, the cost of labor in China has inched up, the exchange rate goes up, and it’s more and more expensive to ship from Asia. In the next three to five years, the cost advantage of China is going to go away. We’re proud to be made in America, but we also feel the cost advantage of offshore manufacturing is not going to be there.


“Why not invest in U.S. manufacturing now? As other companies close factories and ship production overseas, why don’t we be the one who’s investing and buying those companies so that when manufacturing does come back to the U.S., we’re poised as the tool giant?”





Popular Mechanics, May 1962


Another 2116 wrench found in Maine 2016 and an aerial photograph of the company in Defiance Ohio. 1949. 


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