L. S. Starrett Company

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Starrett Tools in Athol, Massachusetts

L. S. Starrett Company (NYSESCX) is an American manufacturer of tools and instruments. Its products are well known among machinists and tool and die makers. The company was founded when businessman and inventor Laroy Sunderland Starrett (1836–1922), who was born in China, Maine, bought the Athol Machine Company in 1905. The company patented such items as the sliding combination square, bench vises, and a shoe hook fastener. They make precision steel rules and tapes, calipers, micrometers, and dial indicators, among many other things.

Starrett employs about 2,000 people worldwide and the company claims to be the last remaining full-line precision tool company to be manufacturing their products within the United States.[1] However, much of the firm's manufacturing takes place at facilities in the People's Republic of China, Brazil, Germany, and the UK, with 28% of Starret's worldwide sales being in Brazil in 2013.[2][3]


The history of Starrett has been one of continuous expansion through the patenting of products and takeovers of other manufacturers. In 1878 Laroy S. Starrett invented and patented the combination square and in 1880 he founded the L.S. Starrett Company in Athol, MA in order to produce the combination square and other precision tools. In 1882, Starrett traveled to London and Paris to appoint sales representatives, thereby starting up the international marketing of his products. In 1887, Starrett acquired further patents.

In 1890, L.S. Starrett patented a micrometer with other improvements, transforming the rough version of this tool into a modern micrometer. During the same year Starrett began making and refining saw blades and today Starrett is the world's largest saw blade manufacturer.[citation needed] In 1895 Starrett patented the divider with trammel. In 1920, the company added its first gage to the product line and quickly became the world’s largest innovator and maker of precision calibrators.

Between 1941 and 1945, Starrett increased its production by 800% and won the Army and Navy “E” prize. At the same time, more than 400 employees went into the US armed forces. The post-war period was a time of overseas expansion, with Starrett opening a factory in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1956. In the early 1960s, the Brazilian factory was moved to a new location in the city of Itu, 100 km from São Paulo, and has grown to become one of the region's biggest employers. During an event to mark the 50th anniversary of Starrett in Brazil in 2006, Douglas A Starrett announced that Salvador de Camargo would take over from Antony McLaughlin as president of Starrett in Brazil. McLaughlin had held the post of president for 44 years from 1962 when the Starrett factory was set up in Itu and de Camargo had worked there since 1963.[4]

In 1958, a plant was opened in Scotland and this plant currently makes a great variety of Starrett products for the European and Asian markets. In 1962, Starrett acquired the Webber Gage Company, adding gage blocks to the Starrett product line. In 1970, Starrett took over the Herman Stone Co., a granite product maker, and in 1985 it relocated production to a new plant in Mount Airy, NC. This plant also makes saws and measuring equipment. In 1975, the São Paulo factory reopened in the city of Itu, in an extremely modern plant which currently manufactures saws and precision instruments.

In 1986, Starrett took over the Evans Rule Company, the world's largest tape measure manufacturer, and in 1990 the company bought Sigma Optical, a British manufacturer of optical profile projectors. In 1998, Starrett expanded into China, opening a new plant in Suzhou.[5]

In 2005, the U.S. Navy awarded a $25,101 contract to LS Starrett Co., Athol, Mass., for alignment fixtures.[6] In the same year, The U.S. Air Force awarded a $55,902 contract to LS Starrett Co., Athol, Mass., for turnbuckles.[7]

In 2006, L.S. Starrett Co. purchased Tru-Stone Technologies Inc. in Waite Park, Minn., a Minnesota maker of custom-engineered granite machine bases, for $19.8 million in cash.[8]


Starrett remains a conservative, family-run company which claims to support free markets and ‘small government’ but treads a careful line between taking advantage of low-cost manufacturing bases outside the US and opposing ‘dumping’ in the US.[citation needed] In the late 1980s, Douglas Starrett praised Thatcherite economic policy and compared US government policy unfavorably to that of the Iron Lady in the UK while at the same time admitting that he was troubled by potential low-wage rivals from China, Taiwan and South Korea, subsidized production overseas and product dumping in US markets.[9] The current President and CEO of the company is Douglas A Starrett and, according to the business analysts BNET, the chief decision makers are Antony A McLaughlin, former President of the Brazilian subsidiary of the organization, Starrett Indústria e Comércio Ltda., Stephen F Walsh, Senior Vice President, Operations, Anthony M Aspin, Vice President of Sales, Joel Shaughnessy, Personnel Director, Bill Livingston, Quality Control Manager, Hardy Hamann VP of Marketing and Business Development, Francis O'Brien, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer [10] and Roy Lake, Assistant Treasurer. The chairman of the board of directors is Robert L Montgomery and other board members are David Lemoine, Ralph C Lawrence, Ralph G Lawrence, Randall J Hylek, Richard B Kennedy, Salvador de Camargo and Terry A Piper.[11]

Business conduct and ethics[edit]

In 2002, a former Starrett subcontractor alerted US Defense Department investigators to an alleged fraud issue with a measuring device called Rapid Check, which Starrett had to replace free-of-charge to customers because of a fault. Federal agents raided Starrett's North Carolina plant looking for evidence of fraud and Starrett's share price plummeted as a result while the company sought to prevent documents related to the allegations from being released publicly. The federal investigation yielded nothing damaging, and it was terminated in December 2003 with no charges filed.[12] Prior to this, though, on September 17, 2003, Starrett had issued an official statement on business conduct and ethics. After a preamble from Douglas A Starrett in which he reiterates the company’s founding principles of ‘humanity, integrity and honesty’, the document goes on to set out areas in which employees should be mindful of business conduct and ethics in various social, commercial and political situations. Among these are protection and proper use of company assets and conflicts of interest. All company assets, the policy states, should be used for legitimate business purposes and care should be taken when using company e-mail, internet and voice mail systems. Referring to conflicts of interest, the document says that these occur when an employee's private interests or those of an immediate family or household member or someone with whom an employee has an intimate relationship interfere in any way – or even appear to interfere – with an employee's duties as an employee or with the interests of the company as a whole.[13]


  1. ^ Synthenet Corporation (2008), Starrett.[online]. Available at:http://www.starrett.com/ (Accessed 3 July 2010).
  2. ^ McLaughlin, M., "The Tales of Two Survivors," New England Business, September 21, 1987, pp. 11, 13, 15-16, in Hoover’s Profiles. [Online] Available at: http://www.answers.com/topic/the-l-s-starrett-company
  3. ^ Dubner, D.,(2006)A empresa Starrett abriu as portas para na última quinta-feira, Itu,Itu.com.br Available at: www.itu.com.br/img/conteudo/5005/5005_1.jpg (Accessed 4 July 2010)
  4. ^ Banas Metrologia e Instrumentação. Available at: http://www.banasmetrologia.com.br/textos.asp?codigo=1723&secao=revista
  5. ^ Synthenet Corporation (2006), Starrett.[online]. Available at:http://www.starrett.com.br/empresa_tempo.html (Accessed 9 April 2010).
  6. ^ "LS Starrett Wins $25,101 Contract". 
  7. ^ "LS Starrett Wins $55,902 Contract". 
  8. ^ "L.S. Starrett acquires Minn. firm". 
  9. ^ McLaughlin, M., "The Tales of Two Survivors," New England Business, September 21, 1987, pp. 11, 13, 15-16, in Hoover’s Profiles. [Online] Available at: http://www.answers.com/topic/the-l-s-starrett-company
  10. ^ http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/scx/insiders?pid=34578
  11. ^ BNET UK. [Online]. Available at: http://resources.bnet.com/topic/l.+s.+starrett+co..html [Accessed 4 July 2010]
  12. ^ Hoover’s Profiles, The L.S. Starrett Company. [Online]. Available at: http://www.answers.com/topic/the-l-s-starrett-company (Accessed 4 July 2010)
  13. ^ Starrett Policy on Business Conduct and Ethics. [Online]. Available at: http://www.starrett.com/pages/874_business_conduct_and_ethics.cfm#5

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