From small things, many big things are grown, and that is precisely the story of the world famous brand of tools and home improvement products known as Black & Decker. Today it is part of Stanley Black & Decker, but remains a wholly owned subsidiary with its headquarters in Maryland. Its revenue is more than six billion and the firm employs more than 27,000 people around the globe.
But it began very small and started with a tiny investment ($1,200) pulled together by S. Duncan Black and Alonzo G. Decker, two telegraph company workers who decided to open their own plant manufacturing machines to dip candy and produce milk bottle caps.
More than just investors, though, the pair were interested in innovating, and within a few years they had designed and manufactured a portable electric drill with a pistol grip and trigger switch. This was so new that they applied for a patent on the design and were awarded it in 1917, and many feel that this product laid the foundation of today's power tool industry. This was also the year they constructed their first factory (rather than a simple machine shop), and things really began to prosper.
By 1919 the company was thriving and annual sales had actually breached the $1 million mark. Six years later, they created one of the first mobile marketing campaigns by outfitting two busses as demonstration and sales rooms, enabling their sales force to provide product classes to plant operators and other sales team members in all parts of the country. In 1929, they took this model to the skies as they demonstrated their tools for aircraft servicing onboard a custom six-passenger plane.
The firm was so successful and large (already operating overseas in the UK) that by 1936 they decided to go public. Naturally, within five years the country was involved in the Second World War, and so they retooled their Towson, MD plant into one for wartime supply manufacturing. During this time they were honoured with four Army/Navy "E" awards for their impressive and nearly flawless wartime production. And with the return of the millions of GIs, they triggered what we today call the "DIY" trend offering portable electric drills to the consumer market.
By the 1950s they were a household name and able to proudly proclaim the making of their millionth drill. Also in the ‘50s, the group expanded its focus and began making products for the consumer "lawn and garden" industry, including a huge number of outdoor tools.
The 1960s saw the company releasing the world's first cordless drill and then cordless outdoor tools. Their products were even put to use in NASAs manned flights into space and their drills were used on the moon!
The 1970s saw them continuing to innovate but also expand their lines, making the first Dustbuster vacuums, and adding new brands. They acquired several brands or lines to further enhance their technology and production capabilities. This included small appliances from General Electric, the Emhard Corporation that was already the owner of many recognizable brands in home hardware and consumer goods.
Other innovations included their "Piranha" carbide tooth circular saw, their universal voltage charging system (the first global battery charger in the world), "snakelights", quiet consumer market sanders, "1-Touch technology", "Smart Technology" allowing adjustable power consumption, "FLEX Vac" technology, motion activated screwdrivers, and dual mode switches for their outdoor tools (providing up to an hour of usage).
In 2010, the firm merged with Stanley Works and is now Stanley Black & Decker.
Together, the firms still make and market some of the best professional and consumer power tools. However, their full line of products includes:
As "the" name in tools, Black & Decker has been striving to provide consumers and professionals with the best quality and technology for more than 100 years, and their reputation only continues to grow.
BlackandDecker.com. Milestones. http://www.blackanddecker.com/en-us/about/milestones