By Jon DeArment, President & COO of Channellock, Inc.
Who are your customers and why do you believe they choose CHANNELLOCK® tools?
The majority of our customers are hardworking tradespeople who rely on CHANNELLOCK® tools to accomplish their jobs, and more importantly, to earn a living. Many are multi-generation trades professionals whose parents and grandparents also trusted CHANNELLOCK® tools. They recognize our trademark CHANNELLOCK BLUE® grips and associate them with being high quality and made in the USA. Over the past few years, we’ve added a significant number of DIYers to our customer base as younger generations began purchasing their first homes.
How does being a family-run business affect Channellock, Inc.’s operations?
Family is essential to who we are as a company. As the fifth DeArment to run Channellock, Inc., I’m fortunate to work alongside my father, Bill, and brother, Ryan, to ensure that the values and quality our company was founded on are retained in everything we do. We also have many multi-generation team members here at the company, therefore being a family-run business goes beyond just the DeArment family.
Another benefit of being a family-owned and operated company is that we’re able to make decisions based on what’s best for our company, our people, and our community rather than what’s best for shareholders or investors. And, most importantly, we aren’t pressured to cut corners in order to save a few bucks. Our decisions are always based on the long-term continued success of the company.
Nearly all CHANNELLOCK® pliers are manufactured in the USA. Why is American manufacturing so important to Channellock, Inc.?
A country is only as strong as its ability to manufacture products. Our entire economic system is based on the transfer of money for goods and services provided; therefore, the more goods and services we produce here in America, the better.
Channellock, Inc. has been making pliers and assorted hand tools on American soil since it was founded in 1886. Our customers take pride in knowing that purchasing CHANNELLOCK® pliers directly supports American manufacturing and American workers. American-made will always be an integral part of our story. Our goal is to manufacture everything we can here in Meadville; PA, if that’s not possible, then we do our best to source it elsewhere in the US. We only look to other parts of the world if a product can’t be sourced here. We also believe that free and fair trade with other nations is an important part of our economy.
What’s the one thing you believe Channellock, Inc. does better than anyone else?
Making pliers. We manufacture more than 75 different sizes and types of pliers, and all of our non-locking pliers are forged from 100% US steel right here in America. These products are all made on-site before being shipped to upwards of 4,000 wholesale and retail customers throughout the world. Our mission is to provide the highest possible value to our customers for their investment in our tools. Our products are not the lowest cost, but they also aren’t the most expensive. We feel we offer the best overall value to our customers.
How important are the trades to Channellock, Inc.? What does the company do to support tradespeople?
As a company founded and forged by tradespeople, we’re committed to supporting hard workers across all trades. It’s no secret that the demand for skilled US workers is greater than ever, and we believe these jobs will need to be filled primarily by our country’s young people. One way we’re preparing them for this task is through our annual Trade School Trade-Up program, which gives trade schools across the country the chance to win a free supply of CHANNELLOCK® tools, a cash prize, and a shop makeover so that students have the quality resources they need to learn their craft. We also are big supporters of SkillsUSA and believe that the more we can do to support trade programs, especially for young people, the better.
A lot of people think of legacy when they see the CHANNELLOCK® brand. What does legacy mean to Channellock, Inc.?
For us, legacy means doing things the right way no matter what, year after year. This consistency has allowed us to build our brand around our core values, which include our unwavering commitment to our hardworking associates, our products, and our Meadville community.
Legacy also means being responsible to future generations. Over the years, our goal has always been to leave Channellock, Inc. in better shape for the next generation. That’s what drives me every day. My wife and I have 3 children, 2 of which are recent college graduates and are now working full-time at the company. Our third is soon to be a college senior and is also very interested in the family business. So for me, legacy isn’t just about our brand or our products– it’s a way of life and absolutely essential to what we do.
How would you describe Channellock, Inc.’s role in the Meadville, PA community?
Channellock, Inc. got its start in Evansburg, PA but we’ve proudly called Meadville home since 1904. Today, we own and operate two facilities in Meadville totaling 260,000 square feet, and employ over 350 full-time associates—making us one of the largest employers in Crawford County, PA. Our relationship with the community is vital to the continued success of the company, which is why we do our best to stay involved in and support local organizations. Not only does Channellock, Inc. call Meadville home, but so do our employees.
Sustainability is becoming increasingly important to both consumers and retailers. Are there any sustainability initiatives that Channellock, Inc. is currently working on?
Forging pliers requires a lot of heat and energy, and with that comes the responsibility to do it as efficiently as possible. One of our core values is continuous improvement, which includes eliminating as much waste from all areas of our operation as possible.
As part of our continuous efforts to manufacture our pliers as efficiently and responsibly as possible, we are replacing all of our disposable absorbent materials—which are used to soak up oils from different production processes—with reusable fabric alternatives. Once these reusable towels are soiled, we send them to a professional laundry service that reclaims the oil and returns clean towels. Not only does this allow us to keep these materials out of landfills, but we’re also able to reduce our oil usage. While it isn’t the cheapest option, we think it’s well worth the investment.