Leatherman MUT, a multi-tool specific to the M4/M16 equipped soldier. Photo Credit: Leatherman
very “tool guy” has one of these stashed in his bag somewhere. That thing is a multi-tool and it can be a life saver in certain situations. Gotta have the right tool for the job, but it’s not easy to lug around a tool set wherever you go.
In 1975, this is what Leatherman founder, Tim Leatherman (no joke, the guy’s name is actually Leatherman) learned while grunting and groaning over the ’68 Fiat on his honeymoon in Europe.
TIM, THE TOOL MAN...Leatherman? (Photo Credit: Leatherman)
Coming back from Europe, Tim set upon a task of building this thing that had never existed before, a handheld tool that had multiple uses. Tool and knife makers he visited responded to his inquiries with shrugged shoulders and uncertainty on where to start. One of the tour highlights is you get to see one of his original prototypes.
An original Leatherman multi-tool prototype. (Photo Credit: Eli Kim)
So fast forward to 1980, Tim used his engineering know how and degree from Oregon State to create prototypes of this deluxe tool gizmo that would incorporate the best of an “swiss army knife” and a few extra things. The first designs were crudely made and mocked up. To be honest, they looked more like remains from a house fire than anything else, but Tim created approximately 200 polished units.
He solicited for business the old fashioned way thru paper correspondence, snail mail. After some time, a mail order catalog company named Cabelas came a calling, right off the bat, bought all 200 units that year.
The front doors to the factory. (Photo Credit: Eli Kim)
In 1993, after Tim Leatherman opened up his current day facility, they were producing 1 million units a year. During this whole time, there have been many imitators trying to copy what was created by Leatherman, but few have ever duplicated his success or quality.
The tour required some safety and audio equipment as you walk the production line. (Photo Credit: Eli Kim)
This tool literally saved a life of a US serviceman overseas by stopping a bullet. (Photo Credit: Eli Kim)
Stories like this one and more are available if you are in the Portland area and have time to visit the Leatherman Factory. They have tours weekly and spots are actually very limited. Here is a link for more information on the tour: Leatherman Tours
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