Manufacturing Today - May/June 2017 - 124
www.channellock.com / HQ: Meadville, Pa. / Employees: 330 / Jon DeArment, president and
COO: "Our primary customers are the men and women out there earning a living using their tools."
channellock plans to
extend its legacy in quality
tools. by alan dorich
Channellock Inc.'s expertise sets
the company apart. "We've got 131
years of experience focused on making pliers," President and COO Jon
DeArment says, adding that its focus
on quality makes it "one of the best."
DeArment's great-great-grandfather, George B. DeArment, founded
the Meadville, Pa.-based company in
1886. He initially worked as a blacksmith, and the popularity of his handforged farrier's tools spread, leading
him to found the Champion Bolt &
"He would spend his winters forging
tools," the younger DeArment says,
explaining that his great-great-grandfather traveled from town to town in
a horse-drawn wagon to sell his products. After he sold all the tools, he'd
sell the horse and wagon, buy a train
ticket home and start over.
George DeArment's tools gained
such popularity that in 1902 the company won an order for a set of farrier's
tools from the royal horse-shoer of
Edward VII in England. The company hit another large milestone in 1933
when its chief engineer, Howard Manning, invented multi-position tongueand-groove slip-joint-style pliers.
The tool was given the name
"Channellock," which would become
the company's namesake 30 years
later. Today, Channellock operates
out of two facilities in Meadville, giving it 230,000 square feet of manufacturing and distribution space, Jon
manufacturing-today.com MAY/JUNE 2017
channellock is vertically
integrated, believing making
pliers requires controlling
The company employs a staff of
330 that manufactures nearly 120 sizes and types of pliers and hand tools.
"Our primary customers are the men
and women out there earning a living
using their tools," he says.
These include professional tradesmen and women, industrial maintenance technicians and automotive
mechanics. "[We also serve] the
DIY spaces with the knowledgeable
'pro-sumers' as we tend to call them,"
DeArment says. "But our primary focus is on the professional market."
Channellock is vertically integrated, where it does everything from
bar stock to box, DeArment explains.
"Make or buy decisions are made all
the time in manufacturing, but we believe when it comes to making pliers,
it's important to control everything in
house," he says.
The company forges, heat treats,
machines, assembles and distributes
all of its pliers in Meadville. "That
speaks to our founder's belief that
good management is never far from
the factory floor," DeArment says.
"We make all of our products right
here," he says. "If there's a problem
in the forge shop, we can be there in
minutes. We've been doing this for 131
years and think we have a pretty good
idea of what we are doing."
Aiming to Improve
Channellock focuses strongly on continuous improvement in its manufacturing. "We're always looking to constantly improve," DeArment says.
This has included implementing
lean manufacturing initiatives. "I've
been working with lean since I started almost 22 years ago, whether it was
setting up cells or doing one-piece
flow," he recalls.
The company also has invested in
automation and product development
with the addition of 19 robots. Channellock began adding them in its polishing applications before moving into
welding and other heat-treating and
forging applications, DeArment says.
"We're always making sure we're
leveraging the latest technology and
innovation out there into our manu-