Klein Tools is an American company based in Lincolnshire, Illinois that manufactures hand tools. The company is known for its popularity with workers in the electrical and telecommunications industries. Lineman's pliers are often called "Kleins," an example of a genericized trademark.
Klein's line-up contains more than 3,800 different tools, including 165 different types of pliers, in addition to screwdrivers, nut drivers, wire pulling and stripping tools, crimping tools, scissors, snips and shears, cable and bolt cutters, conduit benders, personal protective equipment, and tool bags. Klein produces a high-end line of tools under its Journeyman label.
Klein Tools was founded in 1857 in Chicago, Illinois by German immigrant Mathias Klein. The first tool Klein made was a pair of side-cutting pliers for a telegraph lineman. The company grew as the telegraph and eventually telephone and electrical industries grew after the Civil War by adding 100 types of pliers in the 1910s. From the 1960s-1980s, the company expanded their product line to include leather and canvas products, occupational safety equipment, hex key wrenches, screwdrivers, nut drivers, as well as electrical terminals and connectors. Along the way, Klein acquired the R.H. Buhrke Company of Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1968 and the Vaco Products Company of Jonesville, Michigan in 1986. Also in the mid 1980s, the company started manufacturing adjustable wrenches in the US, which they had previously been purchasing from a Japanese supplier.
Klein Tools built a drop forging plant in Moran, Kansas and distribution center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa before the 1990s. In 2006, Klein Tools moved its corporate headquarters to Lincolnshire, IL. Also that year, the company added an affiliate, Klein Connection, to help ensure a wider distribution of Klein products. Klein Connection is an e-commerce website. In 2011, the company opened their new advanced manufacturing facility in Mansfield, Texas. In 2014, they opened their new heat-treating facility and announced plans to expand on their 100 acres in Mansfield. The company is still owned and managed by members of the Klein family.
Klein Tools currently has offices and facilities in Fort Smith, AR; Lincolnshire, IL; Cedar Rapids, IA; Bolivar, NY; Mansfield, TX; and Turn-Key Forging & Design, Inc. operations in Elk Grove Village, IL.
The majority of Klein Tools are manufactured in the United States. Some tools are manufactured overseas, but Klein has always been, and remains, committed to manufacturing their hand tools in the USA whenever possible. Klein recently built several new facilities, and continues to invest in their existing factories to support improvement initiatives in product quality and productivity. Future planned investments in excess of $100 million will allow the company to manufacture in the USA some of the products that are currently sourced as well as make new USA-made products that would otherwise be imported without this investment.
Additionally, Klein Tools de Mexico has operated a plant in Mexico City since 1970. This plant produces products for the Mexican and Central American markets. A few tools that are made here are sold in the U.S., like knockout punches, but for the most part Mexican made products are consumed in Mexico.
Klein Tools got involved in motorsports in 1994 to gain visibility with auto racing fans. Drivers of Klein-backed cars included Jacques Villeneuve, who won the Indianapolis 500 and the CART championship in 1995; and Dan Weldon (co-major sponsor with Jim Beam), who won the Indianapolis 500 in 2005.
In 2001, Klein Tools started sponsoring aerobatics pilot Michael Mancuso. He flew the Klein Tools Extra 300L during air shows and at IndyCar events as the official air show of the Indy Racing League.
Three Klein screwdrivers, with their distinctive handles.
A set of Klein Journeyman pliers.
A double open-ended wrench.
A modular plug crimper.
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- Contracting Business (2007-04-01). "Klein Tools Founder Inducted into Lineman's Museum, Hall". Retrieved 2010-01-09.
- Alloy Artifacts. "Various Hand Tool Makers". Retrieved 2010-01-25.
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- Klein Tools (2001-08). "Klein Tools Introduces New Journeyman™ Line of Premium Pliers for Professionals". Retrieved 2010-01-12.
- Murphy, H. Lee (1996-07-08). "Pliers Poker". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 2014-03-12.
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- Wack, Kevin (2008). Forging Endurance: The Klein Tools Story. Old Saybrook, Connecticut: Greenwich Publishing. p. 91. ISBN 0-944641-69-5. Retrieved 2014-04-04.
- CableOrganizer.com. "The History of Klein Tools". Retrieved 2010-01-09.
- ContractorSupplyMagazine.com. "Inside Klein Tools' Texas Manufacturing HQ". Retrieved 2014-04-17.
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- Fox 17 News. "Klein Tools: Rockford Michigan Facility To Move In 2015". Retrieved 2014-03-13.
- "Made in America: The Klein Tools Story | Pro Tool Reviews". Pro Tool Reviews. 2014-04-21. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
- kleintools.com. "American Manufacturing". Retrieved 2017-05-12.
- The Auto Channel. "KLEIN TOOLS SIGNS MULTI-YEAR SPONSORSHIP DEAL WITH ANDRETTI GREEN". Retrieved 2014-04-17.
- Crash.net. "Air Show to enhance pre-race build-up". Retrieved 2014-03-17.