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Thread: You Go DeWitt Nebraska!

  1. #1
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    Default You Go DeWitt Nebraska!

    New owner of DeWitt plant to make pliers similar to Vise-Grip


    Gene Tyser started working at the former Vise-Grip plant in DeWitt in 1975 as a tool and die maker.

    Over the years he worked all the way up to be general manager of the plant in 2002, the same year Newell Rubbermaid bought out American Tool, the company that had bought Irwin Industrial Tools, formerly Petersen Manufacturing Co., in 1993.

    Tyser was let go in 2005, three years before Newell Rubbermaid announced it was closing the plant and sending manufacturing of the iconic Vise-Grip locking pliers to China, leaving 330 people in the Saline County town out of work.


    He said he tried to keep some semblance of the business going in DeWitt, buying forge lines, including furnaces and punch presses, from the shuttered plant. His intent was to find an investor that would help him restart a tool company, but the dream never came to fruition, so the equipment all went into storage.

    Tyser, who watched many of his neighbors move away or find jobs in other towns, said it's "a dream" that the plant has a new owner that's ready to reopen it and make tools again.

    Malco Products, a Minnesota-based company that makes specialty tools, mostly for the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning industry, bought the former factory in 2016 and has been working on renovating it for more than a year.

    The company is holding a grand opening ceremony Friday, when it plans to announce a new line of products to be manufactured there.

    Though Malco declined to reveal details ahead of time, it appears DeWitt will once again be a manufacturing site for a locking-tool product.

    According to information published earlier this year by the University of Wisconsin-Stout's Manufacturing Outreach Center, DeWitt will be the manufacturing site for Malco's new Eagle Grip locking pliers, which will hit the market next spring.

    "Everything about this is right," said Tyser, who has been working with Malco as a consultant as it works to restart production at the plant. "If you could find the perfect match, they'd be it."

    Gov. Pete Ricketts said he is "really excited" to have Malco in Nebraska.

    Manufacturing, which is the state's second-largest industry after agriculture, is growing, having added more than 4,500 jobs in the state in the past year. And companies such as Malco provide good-paying jobs not just in Omaha and Lincoln but also in smaller towns such as DeWitt, Ricketts said.

    "Reopening this plant really says manufacturing is important" in the state, he said.

    Right now, there aren't a lot of people working at Malco in DeWitt. The company is still in the process of developing prototypes and so only has a "modest staff" in place, said Malco President and CEO Mardon Quandt.


    But Eric Peterson, Malco's sales and marketing director, said it was important to have a grand opening ceremony now because the end of the month marks 10 years since the plant closed.


    Friday's a big day for us," he said.

    It was Peterson who helped his bosses zero in on DeWitt as an expansion opportunity.

    He said he was familiar with the plant because he had worked for its previous owner, American Tool, at a plant in Wisconsin.

    Peterson said one of the big reasons Malco made the decision to buy the plant and expand in DeWitt is that it was a place with "the right skills and the right people."

    Of the employees the company has hired so far, all but a couple are former Vise-Grip workers, many with 10 or 20 years of experience. And in some cases, they are taking pay cuts to come back and work in DeWitt, Peterson said.


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  2. #2
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    Default

    It would be hilarious to see China shut him down on design infringement. But seriously, good luck to him.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: You Go DeWitt Nebraska!

    I have several sets of malco tinsnips, good stuff.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: You Go DeWitt Nebraska!

    Now that is some good news! I wish them well in their endeavors
    "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito"

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: You Go DeWitt Nebraska!

    I've managed to collect 5 ViseGrips marked "Made In DeWitt Nebr."
    Ask me! I've got my Leatherman!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Y View Post
    It would be hilarious to see China shut him down on design infringement. But seriously, good luck to him.


    Vise-Grip patents are long expired. Most recent patent I could find (admittedly a cursory search) was issued in 1967, and expired in 1984. The base patent was issued in 1942 and expired in 1959.
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: You Go DeWitt Nebraska!

    I have to say that I've found quite a few tools made by Irwin to be sort of "handyman level". They work, but are slightly disappointing. Its a brand that I avoid these days.
    Good luck to Malco.


    John Welsford.
    An expert is but a beginner with experience.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: You Go DeWitt Nebraska!

    I still have the genuine made in the USA ViseGrip pliers that I bought at least 25 years ago - the cost was a bit eye watering at the time. It is a tool that invites abuse, seemingly purpose designed to do everything that should really be done with some other "correct tool".
    They have arc spatter, hammer marks, grinder scars, and have removed any number of rusted on nuts and bolts. After everything I have thrown at them, they still cut things that the "other brands" barely dent, clamp harder, and just generally all round work better.
    Hopefully the new guys will make decent tools again.

    Pete
    Don't underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: You Go DeWitt Nebraska!

    Quote Originally Posted by epoxyboy View Post
    I still have the genuine made in the USA ViseGrip pliers that I bought at least 25 years ago - the cost was a bit eye watering at the time. It is a tool that invites abuse, seemingly purpose designed to do everything that should really be done with some other "correct tool".
    They have arc spatter, hammer marks, grinder scars, and have removed any number of rusted on nuts and bolts. After everything I have thrown at them, they still cut things that the "other brands" barely dent, clamp harder, and just generally all round work better.
    Hopefully the new guys will make decent tools again.

    Pete
    I have used Vise-Grips as a temporary repair . . . that was going strong after several years.

    I remember one guy who broke the shifter lever off his motorcycle, so he substituted a pair of Vise-Grips with a small bolt welded to them for a toe grip.

    He never DID get a replacement.

    As to John Welsford's comments about Irwin, I agree.

    Irwin used to be a fine product line. They made excellent augers, saw blades and stuff. Once a company quits making stuff and licensing it's name . . .


    I'm still looking for a few Marples Blue Chip bench chisels to fill in some gaps in the set I have.

    The Irwin-branded ones were a disappointment.

    Irwin's versions of Record tools leave a lot to be desired as well.
    Rattling the teacups.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: You Go DeWitt Nebraska!

    I have been to that pant in DeWitt Nebraska back when they made Vise Grips!

    I worked for a Swedish steel company and we sold them steel for the jaws of the vise grips.

    Nice little town...the Swedes I was with had a great time.

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