In 1886, a blacksmith decided to begin improving the farriers' tools available at that time. George B. DeArment spent the cold northwestern Pennsylvania winters hand-forging tools in a small two-story factory in Evansburg, PA, now called Conneaut Lake. When warmer weather arrived in the spring, he would load his wagon with all the tools he had forged and travel from town to town selling his wares until the wagon was empty. Then he would sell the horse and wagon, and catch a train back to Evansburg to begin the process again.
Thus began an American hand tool legacy.
1893 proved to be a difficult year for George B. DeArment. All the company's cash assets were lost after a local bank teller left town with the bank's funds, leaving the Champion Bolt & Clipper Company, and many other businesses, broke. But, with the help of a few local businessmen and his wife, Eva, George obtained the needed capital and had the company up and running again in 1894.
Word of DeArment's farriers' tools began to spread, and in 1902 he received the "royal" treatment. The royal horse-shoer for England's reigning monarch, Edward VII, placed an order for a complete set of farrier's tools.
DeArment's business continued to grow, and in 1904 the Champion Bolt & Clipper Company moved to Meadville, PA. The town of Meadville enticed George B. to move his company by offering him a loan of $6,000. He accepted their offer and moved into a 12,000-square-foot facility, paying an incredible $150 a year in rent (payable up front). It was at that time that Champion expanded its product line to include nippers, pinchers, and open-end wrenches, as well as horseshoeing tools.
Seven years later, in 1911, George's sons, Almon W. and J. Howard DeArment became partners in the business. After the retirement of George B., the two brothers took over the company, Almon directing development and production, and brother J.H. in charge of sales and administration.
In 1914, the brothers once again expanded Champion's product line, this time to include hammers. After the death of George B. in 1917, Champion was soon on the move again, literally.
In 1923, the company moved to its current location on South Main Street after building a 33,000-square-foot facility. In 1927, J. Howard passed away, leaving Almon solely in charge of the company. It was at that time that he changed the name of the company to Champion-DeArment Tool Company with the intention of dropping the word Champion at a later date.
1933 proved to be a year of ingenuity and advancement for Champion-DeArment, and the watershed year for the company, indeed. Chief Engineer Howard Manning developed the concept of a multi-position, tongue-and-groove, slip-joint style pliers. He dubbed the pliers "CHANNELLOCK." Champion immediately applied for trademark protection for the name "CHANNELLOCK" and for a patent of R. Manning's original concept. Both were granted in 1935. Two years later, Champion-DeArment employed 75 people and reached sales in the area of $300,000.
Management changed hands again in 1950 with the passing of Almon W. DeArment. J Howard's sons, George S. and William A. took over the leadership of Champion-DeArment Tool Company. The brothers decided to reduce the hammer line in order to diversify the company's customer base and to emphasize the pliers side of the business, which was growing at a rate of 10 percent per year!
Three years later, the company faced a potentially damaging problem. The patent on the tongue-and-groove pliers was about to expire, and any number of competitors were waiting anxiously to jump in and capture a large portion of the market. Champion-DeArment diffused the situation by unveiling two separate improvements to the pliers design: the undercut tongue and groove design that greatly reduced the possibility of slippage; and a reinforcing flange that reduced stress breakage. Patents were granted for both improvements.
By 1963, the word Channellock was so synonymous with their product that the company's name was changed from Champion-DeArment Tool Company to Channellock, Inc. in order to preserve the trademark and capitalize on its extensive name recognition. In 1965, Channellock, Inc. was granted its third patent, this time for the conical surface created on the cam side of the pliers when undercut.
In 1980, brothers George S. and William A. became co-chairmen of the Channellock, Inc. board of directors, and handed over the reigns of management to William S. DeArment, son of William A. When William S. was named company president and general manager, Channellock, Inc. employed over 500 people, with sales in excess of $20 million per year.
In 1984, CHANNELLOCK received a patent for the "Perma-Lock®" fastener used on all CHANNELLOCK® tongue and groove pliers and all slip-joint plier products. In 1988, the unique color "CHANNELLOCK BLUE®" was granted trademark protection by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Throughout the 90's, CHANNELLOCK.s marketing efforts were defined by motorsports marketing. CHANNELLOCK was one of the early corporate sponsors of the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series, beginning a 13-year relationship.
In 1993, then CHANNELLOCK driver Steve Grissom drove the CHANNELLOCK #31 Monte Carlo to the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series Championship.
A who's who of NASCAR drivers spent time behind the wheel of CHANNELLOCK-sponsored stock cars at one time or another. Some of the names include Phil Parsons, Tom Peck, Kevin Lepage, Stanton Barrett, Dave Steele, Kerry Earnhardt, Marty Houston, Ron Hornaday, Sterling Marlin, Kasey Kahne and Casey Atwood.
In 1995, Channellock, Inc. earned the coveted ISO 9001 certification for its strict adherence to quality control standards and thorough documentation of all manufacturing and customer service processes. The company was recently granted ISO 9001:2000 status.
In 1997, Sammy Swindell captured his third World of Outlaws Championship in his Channellock-sponsored sprint car. Swindell, a three-time World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion, was a mainstay of the CHANNELLOCK racing program for many years.
Today, two CHANNELLOCK facilities in Meadville provide more than 200,000 square feet of manufacturing, warehousing and office space. Channellock, Inc. manufactures more than 120 different sizes and types of pliers and other hand tools, while employing nearly 500 full-time associates. It is the largest industrial employer in Crawford County, Pennsylvania. CHANNELLOCK has over 4,000 wholesale and retail customers in the United States, and ships to customers in 45 countries around the globe.
The fifth generation of the DeArment family now helps guide our path and prepares to lead the company.s growth well into the 21st century. Jonathan S. DeArment currently serves as vice-president of manufacturing and engineering; Joan DeArment Sweeney is our director of corporate development and Ryan W. DeArment serves as Director of National Accounts. Jon, Joanie and Ryan are the children of president and CEO, William S. DeArment. And, as Bill likes to say the sixth generation has landed, referring to Jonathan's children, William, Katelyn and Lauren; and Joanie's sons, Bainer and Benjamin.
George B. DeArment founded the Champion Bolt & Clipper Company with a firm belief in four guiding principles: the belief that good management is never far from the factory floor; that people are more important than machines; that bigger doesn't always mean better; and that dedication to excellence is the surest way to surmount adversity and to prosper.
For over 119 years, Channellock, Inc. has held firm to those four basic tenets and has become a jewel of the American free enterprise system by doing so.