Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Gripping Tales: Harry P. Will GmbH, Neustadt, Germany

Very infrequently, Harry P. Will pliers turn up in my neck of the woods.  More common are German pliers marked "HPW" (below), which I have to assume is the same company:

For one thing, they share a very distinctive handle pattern:

Interesting, some of these pliers are marked "HPW" on one side and "CTC" on the other:

This would lead me to believe that at one time they were a supplier for the Canadian Tire Corporation, a large tool and auto part retailer in Canada.  I've also discovered online that they produced screwdrivers for Home Hardware's "Benchcraft" brand.

Below, an offset screwdriver and a ratcheting screwdriver made by this company:

From the logo above, it would seem that pliers and screwdrivers were their main, if only, product.  Both the "comfo-grip" and the "Reg. 1970" drivers were by Will. They also used "Torque-Master" on some of their screwdrivers.

In 1844, ancestors of Harry P. Will founded a tool factory in Schmalkalden (Thuringia), considered to be the cradle of the German tool industry.  In 1918, the Bruno Will gun and tool factory was built.  Production was primarily directed to the North American markets, which dried up during the 1930's as the Nazis came to power.  During the Second World War, the factory was damaged several times during air raids.  At the end of the war, Harry Paul Will, the son of the company's founder, discovered that the area in which the factory was located was to be surrendered by the Americans to the Russians.  The Americans lent him two army trucks for 24 hours to transport plant machinery and finished products to Mardorf and then to Neustadt outside of the Soviet zone, where the factory remains to this day.  In 1948, the firm was officially registered as Harry P. Will Werkzeugfabrik GmbH and production of pliers resumed in an old horse stable. Once again, North America was the primary market where Mr. Will became known colloquially to his buyers as the "Plier King." In the early 1950's, Harry Will himself emigrated to Toronto, Ontario, leaving management of the German company to his partner, Richard Gies. In 1962 the firm was sold to Dr. Karl Fridrich Still, the head of a large coke and chemical plant construction empire.  In 2006, the KNIPEX C. Gustav Putsch KG in Wuppertal acquired the Will Werkzeuge, saving it from bankruptcy.  Three years before, KNIPEX had bought the Orbis Werkzeugfabrik, a tool company dating back to 1929 which was located in the Remscheid/Solingen/Wuppertal region, another German tool-making stronghold. In 2008, Orbis-Werk and the Will Werkzeuge were merged into OrbisWill GmbH, located in Ahaus, with production remaining in Neustadt.


Nico said...

How much worth these pliers, today ?

Nico said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mister G said...

Not sure, probably not a lot. Most of things we find are at flea markets etc. and pliers are usually $5 or less.

Anonymous said...

Thanx for the info on CTC/HPW tools. I have a couple of pliers with the CTC and HPW marks you described and
I always wondered about the manufacturer. I don't remember where I got them, but I've been using them for many years. Well made from West Germany, so I've always kept them in with my 'good' tools.