February 9, 2007

Black and Decker

And the men behind the brands are...
S. Duncan Black and Alonzo Decker

The names Black and Decker are instantly recognized by any homeowner who ever built his own workshop. But consider the products that S. Duncan Black and Alonzo G. Decker set out to make when they pooled $1200 in 1910: a milk bottle cap machine, a vest-pocket adding machine, machinery for the United States Mint,
and a cotton picker.

The two partners opened a small machine shop in Baltimore in 1910 to make these specialty machines. The next year their first ads for the Black & Decker Manufacturing Company began appearing in Manufacturers Record & Horseless Age. But the course of their company was soon to change forever.

After much tinkering Black and Decker patented a pistol-grip drill with a trigger switch and universal motor and in 1916 introduced the first portable 1/2" electric drill. In 1918 the company opened product service centers in Boston and New York and added sales representatives in Russia, Japan, Europe and Australia. Sales passed one million dollars.

Black & Decker expanded their line to add other power tools with the unique pistol grip. An electric screwdriver was introduced in 1922 and an electric hammer in 1936. Black & Decker was an innovator in consumer education to teach the public about their new power tools.

They purchased two Pierce Arrow buses to use as classrooms on wheels.
In 1929 a specially outfitted 6-passenger Travel Air monoplane was used as a flying showroom. And in 1932 one of the first industrial movies, a 60-minute sound production, was used to sell Black & Decker tools.

Black served as president of the firm until 1951 and Decker succeeded him for the next five years. The two men had taught the world about power tools, selling more portable machine tools than anyone else. But why stop there? In 1971 a Black & Decker Lunar Surface Drill removed core samples from the moon on Apollo 15.

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