Marshalltown Company

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Marshalltown Company
Founder Jesse Williams, E. Lester Williams
Headquarters Marshalltown, Iowa, United States
Key people
Dave Lennox
Products construction tools

The MARSHALLTOWN Company, based in Marshalltown, Iowa, is a privately held American manufacturer of construction tools and equipment used for asphalt, concrete, drywall, EIFS, flooring, masonry, painting, plastering, stucco, tile and wallpaper. MARSHALLTOWN, founded in 1890,[1] is one of the top producers of construction tools and equipment in the world,[2][3] including the MARSHALLTOWN pointed trowel, a favored tool among American archaeologists.[4][5][6]

Company history[edit]

The origins of MARSHALLTOWN can be traced back to the American inventor and entrepreneur Dave Lennox. While working in his machine shop in the mid 1880s in Marshalltown, Iowa, Mr. Lennox received a visit from a stonemason who asked him to make a better plastering trowel[7] while working on the construction site of the Marshall County Courthouse.[8]

Using the mason’s criteria, Mr. Lennox forged the trowel and delivered it to the worker, who then showed it off to other masons in the area. Those masons considered the new trowel to be greatly improved and requested more.[9] Mr. Lennox, having other interests, decided to forgo the opportunity and instead, in 1890, gave his apprentice, Jesse Williams, who ran a small machine shop, the charge of making the trowels.[10][11]

In 1902 Jesse’s brother, Lester Williams, entered into a partnership with him and built the Williams Brothers Machine shop on South 8th Avenue in Marshalltown, Iowa, the site where the current plant is located today.[12]

By 1905 the brothers began specializing in trowels and referred to that part of the business as Marshalltown Trowel Works.[13]

That same year the brothers acquired the services of master salesman and promoter Al Higgin. With Mr. Higgin's help, MARSHALLTOWN trowels became renowned across the country.[14]

World War I introduced MARSHALLTOWN trowels to new markets. In 1918, MARSHALLTOWN sent 18,000 trowels overseas for US soldiers to use while working on European jobsites[15] Soldiers stationed in France reported that masons building Pershing Stadium near Paris used and preferred MARSHALLTOWN trowels and a general demand was created for the trowels as workers returned from the war.[16]

Following World War II, new facilities were constructed and business remained strong[17] during the postwar period. Around the 1970s, the company saw substantial growth as a result of introducing new, innovative products[18] and expanding overseas markets.

Al Higgin in His Sales Truck

Business today[edit]

Marshalltown Company location in Marshalltown, Iowa.

Today MARSHALLTOWN has expanded its product lines and markets since producing its first trowel in 1890. In addition to the original MARSHALLTOWN premier line of tools, the Q.L.T. line was introduced for the everyday handyman. MARSHALLTOWN tools are shipped globally and are used in such countries as Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, the Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia.


  1. ^ "Ask Tool Talk". 
  2. ^ "The Iowa Engineer, March 1921, Vol. XXI No. 6". 
  3. ^ "Marshalltown is "credited with producing more trowels than all other manufacturers combined"". Marshalltown Times Republican. 1959 06 30.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ " – Unearthing the past with a piece of history". 
  5. ^ "Gath Archaeological Official Website". 
  6. ^ ",uk Tools of the trade". 
  7. ^ ""Lennox Machine Company"". Past and Present of Marshall County Iowa. I: p. 404. 
  8. ^ "Duane A. Schmidt, Iowa Pride, page 78 2002, ISBN 1-5916-0134-7". 
  9. ^ "The Story Before Marshalltown – Ties to Lennox" 125 Years". MARSHALLTOWN COMPANY 1890-2015 A History in the Making p. 9. 
  10. ^ "Shovel Bum: Comix of Archaeological Field Life", by Trent De Boer, 2004, ISBN 0-7591-0682-7, p.95". 
  11. ^ "Ask Tool Talk". 
  12. ^ "The Story Before Marshalltown – Ties to Lennox" 125 Years". MARSHALLTOWN COMPANY 1890-2015 A History in the Making p. 10. 
  13. ^ Retrieved 2016-11-03 "Marshalltown Times Republican, March 4, 1903, p.6" Check |url= value (help) (PDF). 
  14. ^ "Lennox Machine Company". Past and Present of Marshall County, Iowa. I p. 404. 
  15. ^ ""Lennox Machine Company"". Past and Present of Marshall County Iowa: p. 404. 
  16. ^ "Marshalltown Made Trowels Praised by Soldiers in France". Marshalltown Times Republican. 1919. 
  17. ^ "Trowel Invented by Chance Now World Favor, 1949 06 06". Marshalltown Times Republican,. 1949 06 06.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  18. ^ "Innovative Products From Marshalltown". Marshalltown Times Republican. 1973 07 21.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

External links[edit]