Channellock Inc. is incredibly fortunate to have many dedicated associates who have been a part of our team for decades. To highlight their hard work, dedication and loyalty, every week this July we are featuring a different associate who has been with us for 40 years or more. This week, we’re kicking it off with our President and CEO William S. DeArment, who recently celebrated a major work anniversary.
Name, title at Channellock Inc. and years of service:
William S. DeArment, Board Chairman, CEO and President. 45 years.
How did you start working at Channellock Inc.?
While Channellock Inc. is our family owned business, I really did not understand the business until I was in 10th grade because the business was never “brought home” by my father. But in 1967, I attended the (now defunct) National Electrical Show in New York City and I saw what CHANNELLOCK® really was and what the products meant to our customers. That was when it became evident to me that my future was here.
What was your first job at the company?
In high school, at age 17, I worked in shipping for Mr. George Stiles, the foreman. I ran the skin packaging equipment with Mr. Ed Fleet and applied by hand yellow, slip-on grips to pliers for one of our private-label customers. I also swept the warehouse floors on Friday afternoons.
What is your current job?
I am currently the President and CEO of the company.
What has been your favorite job?
After 45-plus years, there have been many. I really enjoyed operating production equipment where I was moving metal and adding obvious value to products. I also enjoyed working in the Die Room, where forging dies were hand-sunk by die-sinkers working on Hydrotel machines. Over the years I gained an appreciation for the hand finishing that was required on forging dies and on trimmer dies, work that is now done on CNC equipment.
As time went on I truly enjoyed calling on CHANNELLOCK® customers and working with a great group of sales representatives. Presenting the features and benefits of our plier products and new products has always been enjoyable.
What is the biggest change you’ve witnessed here since you started?
Communications and technology advances have changed the most. Fax was new when I started! Imagine the accuracy, time savings and accuracy improvements with the communication technology and social networking of today.
Process enhancements within our manufacturing departments are ongoing, such as laser-heat treating technology and robotics in the forging, polishing and machining arenas. Computer-aided capabilities are now everywhere, plus we’ve implemented systems advancements from MRP, to Lean manufacturing, to 5-S management.
From a human relations point of view I have seen a major shift in attitude based on the change from piece-work production orientation to cellular, or group-incentive, systems. These changes have led to a more team-spirited production all supported with fringe benefits and incentive programming. Also, training is a major corporate commitment today. There is much more function-specific training from vendors or more traditional institutional training sources.
What is your favorite CHANNELLOCK® tool and why?
Definitely the 317 8” side-cutting long nose plier. It’s an all-around great tool.
Has anyone else in your family worked here?
Yes! Previous family members include my great-grandfather, great uncle, grandfather, father and uncle. Currently, my daughter, Joanie, and sons Jonathan and Ryan are all vitally involved in management of the tool company. My grandson, William, also works as a summer associate here.
What is your favorite CHANNELLOCK® memory?
There are so many it’s hard to choose just one. I guess a favorite memory occurred at my first National Hardware Show, August of 1969. At the Coliseum in New York City, my father wanted to show me the “show,” walk the aisles, see competitors, industry friends, etc. I was amazed at this huge show; seemingly everyone in the place knew him and greeted him. Then they would ask to get the new 460G, 16” tongue-and-groove plier, which we had recently introduced, but we couldn’t keep up with the demand. At one point, four CHANNELLOCK® distributors were all asking to be sure they received a prompt shipment of this product. At the time it amazed me. Also, watching our children work their way into the tool business and make successful improvements has been a highlight of my career.
Anything else you’d like to share?
A five generation, family-owned manufacturing business making products in the USA is highly unusual. We take pride in that and do all we can to maintain this company in today’s highly competitive, global economic environment. The real story is that this does not happen without the help of the great people that have gone before us, that are working here today and will work here in the future. It does not happen without focused attention on our business model of making the highest-quality products each day, every day.
My uncle, George S. DeArment, once said, “There will always be a market for a good pair of pliers,” and he was absolutely right.
Communications and Training Manager