Lehman Brothers Collection - Contemporary Business Archives

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Lehman Brothers Collection

Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Black and Decker Manufacturing Co. - Lehman Brothers Collection

Black and Decker Manufacturing Co.

List of Deals

Alonzo Decker and S. Duncan Black founded the Black & Decker Manufacturing Company in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1910. The company originally manufactured products such as a milk bottle cap machine, a cotton picker, and machinery for the U.S. Mint. In 1916 the company began to design and manufacture their own electric-powered tools; it designed the first universal motor for electric-tool use, which was used in the portable "pistol grip and trigger switch" drill introduced by the company. Sales were over $1 million by 1918.

The company grew during the 1920s, as it introduced more portable electric tools. To increase its client base, the company employed several tactics. It opened service centers in Boston and New York, organized clinics to teach distributors how to use and sell the tools, deployed demonstrators around the country, outfitted a monoplane to showcase its tools, and in 1921 began a mass-media campaign in the Saturday Evening Post. Black & Decker Manufacturing expanded abroad, establishing subsidiaries in Canada and England. The company also began an acquisitions program in the late 1920s.

The Depression greatly affected Black & Decker Manufacturing; the company was able to stay afloat through capital from outside investors and employee loyalty, as some employees worked without pay. Despite its troubles, the company continued to develop new products during the 1930s.

During World War II, the company manufactured shells, fuses, and other products for the war. The company feared a post-war downturn similar to that experienced after the First World War and set in motion plans to manufacture power tools for do-it-yourselfers and homeowners. Black & Decker produced the world's first power tools for the consumer market in 1946, a line of inexpensive drills and accessories called the Home Utility line.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the company continued to expand overseas and built facilities in Australia, South Africa, West Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Canada, and Mexico. Black & Decker expanded its product lines, producing portable pneumatic tools, woodworking tools, and electric lawn edgers and hedge trimmers. In 1964 the company began making use of television advertising. Sales were over $200 million by 1969.

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