Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Vanished Tool Makers: Holub Industries Incorporated, Sycamore, Illinois

Above, my Holub Model 18-800 wire stripper and terminal crimping tool.  Apparently, it was advertised as the "Big-7."
Popular Mechanics, June 1969

Bert E. Holub (1904-1976) founded Holub Industries in 1946.  Its product line eventually included wire connectors; plastic straps and clamps; conduit and pipe straps; wiring tools; fuse specialties and testers; screw anchors and toggle bolts; masonry drills; and commutator maintenance products. These were sold under a number of trade names, principally “HI” ("Holub Industries") for the general line of products; “LOK-IT” for wire connector wrenches; “HI-RED” for plastic screw anchors; “WALLY” for screw fasteners; “TRIPLE-FLUTE” for percussion drills; and “TRU-START” for masonry core drills. 

Billboard, January 1953
Holub products found their way into aircraft, electrical appliances, lighting fixtures and even guided missiles. In 1963, with 800 products listed in their catalogue, the company had grown to the point where it could purchase the former Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Depot in Sycamore (now on the National Register of Historic Places), which included the warehouse, railroad siding and an entire block of land to the north.  This was the seventh addition to the original Holub plant since the company's founding.  Also scheduled to share the new space was a Holub subsidiary, Ace-Sycamore, which manufactured industrial blowers and cleaners , dust collectors , fume exhausers , magnetic floor sweepers , magnetic floor sweepers , electric spot welders and live lathe centers.  

Mr. Holub was quoted at the time as saying that that he was very confident of America s industrial future, security and growth. Ah, the 1960's.  

In the 1970's, possibly following Mr. Holub's death, the company became ITT Holub Industries, a division of the International Telephone & Telegraph Corporation. The company seems to have stayed afloat until the late 1980's, when the patents started to expire, copies of their tools flowed in from domestic and off-shore sources and the "All-American Handyman" pursued lower price points.

Popular Mechanics, June 1967
Popular Mechanics, May 1976
The competition


Unknown said...

thanks for sharing, I just recently discovered the 'little 7' 18-850 wire-stripper pliers in a tool-box. I was in the process of assembling a travel took-kit to keep in my Jeep. Have not used these in decades, not because they still are not a good wire-stripper, because I replaced them with wire-stripper pliers that have a spring. I live a few miles from Sycamore and did not realize the history.

Philip said...

I have the same pair of Wire Stippers from Holub, IND.
18-800. I still use them almost every day. I wanted another pair and didn't realize how old they were and that I'd never find another pair. That's ok.

Mister G said...

Start frequenting garage sales!

Anonymous said...

I have a pair of old Holub Linesman pliers that are stamped Japan, the jaws are in great shape even though the finish is all but gone, they must have been quite good tools.

Unknown said...

I hate that way so much of our manufacturing is gone.

Unknown said...

I have the tool marked ITT HOLUB IND. trying to identify what it's used for.

Mister G said...

Can you send a picture to I'll add it to the post. Thanks!

Dave said...

I've got a pair of these strippers that I inherited from my grandmother's husband who passed away a few years ago. These are marked T&B Memphis Tennessee, as he worked at Thomas & Betts in Southaven Mississippi, which was formerly American Electric (where my father also worked).

I found this post when trying to look up these strippers to see if they were available to the public. They work great.

Mister G said...

Don't lose them! :-)