Clauss Cutlery Company

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Industry Cutting Tools
Owner Acme United Corporation
Website Clauss Home

Clauss Cutlery’s long and vivid history started in 1877 when John Clauss and his younger brother Henrie established Elyria Shear Works in Elyria, Ohio. At one time the company was the largest manufacturer of scissors and shears in the world and was acquired by Acme United Corporation in 2004.


1877 - 1918[edit]

The two brothers John and Henrie Clauss, of German origin, started Elyria Shear Works from a one-room building in Elyria, Ohio.[1] Together with five employees, they began manufacturing scissors, shears, straight razors and serrated kitchen knives.[2]

In the early 1880s, with his shear business prospering, John Clauss planned a major expansion. In August 1887, he moved the company to Fremont, Ohio to be near an accessible, abundant supply of natural gas which had recently been discovered.[2] The gas was ideally suited to fuel the furnaces for the company’s forges and foundry. Clauss erected a two stories high plant at the corner of North Buchanan Street and Pine Street. Within one year, the company was producing 3,000 pairs of shears and scissors a day.[2]

On January 17, 1889, disaster struck as the plant was completely destroyed by fire, causing 125 employees to lose their jobs. However, in less than four months, Clauss built a new plant and was back in full operation.[3] The new four story brick building at the corner of State Street and Sandusky Avenue was the largest shear factory in the world at that moment.[3] Clauss also used this opportunity to change the company’s name to Clauss Shear Company.

1919 - 1945[edit]

In 1919, Clauss Shear merged with Henkel Company, also from Fremont, Ohio, to create Henkel-Clauss Company.[4] Henkel Company was founded in 1906 to manufacture manicure and pedicure files, knives, shears and razors.[5] The Henkel-Clauss merger created a company with over 1,000 employees and had the largest payroll in the United States at that time. John Clauss didn’t live long to enjoy that success as he died later that same year.

In the early 1920s the cutlery business faced a serious setback as Germany was permitted to export shears and scissors duty-free to the United States. The idea behind this was to help Germany pay back its World War I debts. As a consequence, German shears were sold at half the price of American made shears.[5] Despite the fierce German competition, Fremont counted twenty-five cutlery businesses and was rightfully known as the "Cutlery Center of the World".[6]

1946 - 1966[edit]

After World War II, Clauss was unable to compete with European firms producing household scissors and other simple products because wages were much lower in Europe. As a result, the company had no other choice than to shift its focus to industrial scissors. Unfortunately, Clauss continued to struggle as much of its sales were to industries in decline or to businesses where automation was reducing the need for scissors.[3]

In 1954 the corporate name was changed to Clauss Cutlery Company to eliminate the confusion with the German cutlery firm J.A. Henckels.

1967 - 2004[edit]

In 1967 Clauss was taken over by Alco Standard Corporation. Alco Standard, which later divested its manufacturing companies to create Alco Industries Inc., integrated Clauss into its existing structure to manufacture tools for industrial niche markets. For instance, Clauss made surgical scissors for eye operations, heavy duty metal cutting shears, poultry shears for gutting chickens and specialty items such as anti-acid, anti-magnetic tweezers for the electronics industry.[7]

Clauss had approximately 100 employees and produced about $18 million in annual revenues in the late 1980s, but profits continued to decline.[7] In May 2004, Acme United Corporation acquired the Clauss inventory, trademarks and brand names from Alco Industries for approximately $500,000.[8]

2005 - Present[edit]

The Clauss business was immediately integrated into Acme United's existing operations. Since then, the number of Clauss products has continued to expand. In 2006 and 2007 sewing shears, utility knives, chef shears, hobby knives and a titanium-bonded spring-assisted pruner were brought to market.[9]

In 2008, Clauss introduced the SpeedPak utility knife and its replaceable cartridges with 10 titanium blades. The SpeedPak works like a normal utility knife, except when the blade is dull the user can simply push a button on the side of the knife, pull out the blade, retract the button, and automatically another blade reloaded out of the cartridge. The SpeedPak won a Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum, Museum of Architecture and Design in 2007.[10]

Early 2013, Clauss launched a family of titanium bonded non-stick putty knives. Its coating prevents the tools from rusting, which is a very common problem in wet environments, and it allows easier application of the putty.[11]

More recently, Acme formed a partnership with The ScottsMiracle-Gro Company (NYSE: SMG) to market and sell two lines of lawn and gardening tools branded ‘Scotts AirShoc’ and ‘Miracle-Gro’. The tools also carry the ‘powered by Clauss technology’ label.

The Miracle-Gro is a line of lawn and garden products such as pruners, snips, floral knives and spring assisted scissors suited for home gardeners. The Scotts AirShoc line, on the other hand, aims at lawn care professionals and serious DIY’ers. It includes loppers, hedge shears, branch saws and grass and garden shears.


  1. ^ "Carroll Family > Biographical Sketch".  Retrieved on June 28, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c "Great Men Of America". The Bryan Times.  Retrieved on July 2, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c "Firms aim to regain cutting edge".  Retrieved on July 1, 2009.
  4. ^ "Carroll Family > Biographical Sketch".  Retrieved on June 28, 2009.
  5. ^ a b "Historic American Engineering Record" (PDF). U. S. Department of the Interior.  Retrieved on July 4, 2009.
  6. ^ "Carroll Family > Biographical Sketch".  Retrieved on June 28, 2009.
  7. ^ a b "Clauss Cutlery Carves A Niche In Special Field". The Blade.  Retrieved on June 30, 2009.
  8. ^ "Acme United Corporation Acquires Clauss Cutlery Assets". Business Wire. June 1, 2004.  Retrieved on October 16, 2012.
  9. ^ "10-K Acme United 2010".  Retrieved on April 25, 2011.
  10. ^ "Acme United Corporation Announces Good DesignAward".  Retrieved on April 25, 2011.
  11. ^ "ScottsMiracle-Gro and Acme United Launch Innovative Lawn and Garden Tools".  Retrieved on May 18, 2012.

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