The Stanley Works
THE WORLD BUILDS WITH STANLEY TOOLS AND HARDWARE.
Frederick Trenck Stanley founded The Stanley Works in New Britain in 1843. The business, Stanley which turned out a variety of door and shutter hardware, was located in a small one-story building that had formerly served as an armory. To power his equipment, Stanley utilized a steam engine which he and his brother William had purchased in 1830 to drive the machinery of an earlier lock manufacturing venture. The steam engine was the first in use in New Britain and probably Connecticut. This early example of adopting a new technology was the first in a long history of innovation at Stanley.
In 1854, Stanley recruited a bright young man named William H. Hart whose talent and hard work would earn him the job of company president in 1884. Hart brought a penchant for detail and an obsession for constant improvement in products through innovations such as cold rolled iron. This resulted in a new full line of smooth bright iron hinges resulting in industry-wide recognition and a dramatic increase in sales. As a result of his close contact with customers, Hart also introduced several innovations which greatly improved the marketability of merchandise. Among them were labeled telescoping boxes for hardware items and the packaging of screws with the hardware. Hart also encouraged the development of foreign markets for Stanley products. Stanley began exporting in the 1870′s and set up a separate export sales office in New York in 1902. Foreign production began in Canada in 1914 followed by Germany in 1926 and England in 1937.
By 1920, The Stanley Works had merged with its cross-town neighbor, the Stanley Rule and Level Co., a company founded in 1857 by Henry Stanley, a distant cousin of Frederick Stanley. Stanley Rule and Level was one of the world’s largest manufacturers of boxwood rules, levels and other woodworking tools such as the famous “Bailey” iron plane.
During the Great Depression of the 1930′s, the company created new markets with products such as portable electric tools and the “Magic Door” which opened automatically when its photoelectric cell detected an approaching pedestrian. Following the shift to war material during the 1940′s, the company began a new round of expansion and diversification. During the latter half of the century, Stanley opened new manufacturing plants throughout the world and added new product lines such as entry doors, air tools, mechanics tools and pneumatic nailing and fastening tools. In 1966, Stanley was listed on the New York Stock Exchange and a few years later Stanley’s new president Donald W. Davis came up with a slogan that would pervade company marketing for years to come “Stanley helps you do things right”.
Today, the little shop that Frederick Stanley opened over 150 years ago has grown into a $2.7 billion corporation whose products can be found in virtually every country throughout the globe.