Irwin Industrial Tools
Issue Nov/Dec 06
Irwin is tooled up
Irwin Industrial Tools manufactures and distributes professional grade hand tools and power tool accessories worldwide for trade professionals who demand superior performance and durability on the job
Irwin Industrial Tools’ brand portfolio features user-preferred category leaders such as Irwin, Vise-Grip, Jack, Quick- Grip, and many others.
For over a century, innovation has been Irwin’s hallmark. Beginning in 1885, with the development of the first Irwin Auger Bit, and progressing with the introduction of Vise-Grip Locking Tools, Speedbor Flat Bits, Jack Saws, and Quick-Grip Bar Clamps, the company has been at the forefront of the industry, creating superior tools for professional tradesmen.
“Irwin industrial tools has a history that dates back well over a century,” says Rolf Overgaard, manufacturing director of Northern Europe. “We manufacture then distribute professional grade tools and accessories around the globe to professional tradesmen. Our products are superior – we represent quality in every sense of the word. As part of Newell Rubbermaid, we enjoy all of the benefits of being part of a multibillion dollar enterprise and our customers profit hugely from this.”
Indeed, as part of Newell Rubbermaid, Irwin enjoys the financial backing and systems support of an $8 billion global consumer products company. The global strength of Newell Rubbermaid permits Irwin to focus on its core business, as well as innovation and product development. Rolf takes up this point and continues: “Joining Newell has seen Irwin transform the way it works. We have become more professional, market focused and our whole methodology has changed. We enjoy strong financial backing and the knowledge Newell has passed to us is invaluable.
“We now have the muscle to attack the world market, which is a must in this sector. In the past we were a privately owned company with limited resources so we were a very local supplier,” he adds.
Irwin would never have survived as long as it has without staying at the forefront of development. Needless to say, the industry leader is highly innovative. Irwin has an impressive track record of new product development, which is born from its passion for understanding the needs of the primary user – professional tradesmen. This dedication to improving products begins in the field, where Irwin’s impact end-user teams visit job sites. There, the team learns first-hand, how to improve its products to help the professionals increase their productivity. From the beginning of the product development process to the performance of the product, Irwin’s commitment is apparent in everything it does.
“We have a brilliant NPD department where we are researching and developing on a continuous basis,” continues Rolf. “We are highly innovative and regularly surprise our customers with the quality of our high performing products. In this industry, the performance of the product is its main selling point – it drives sales – so we must create the superior product. Coincidentally, we do, which is why we are market leaders and have enjoyed tremendous success over the years.”
In recent years, the company has also undergone an implementation of lean principles. Rolf explains: “We have implemented lean and introducing lean thinking has been a key issue for us. We have reorganised – around the world – to take waste out of our production. That ongoing process started three years ago and we have achieved tremendous results through this lean implementation.”
Commenting on the future of the company, Rolf concludes: “I think there is room for further expansion. We can see that demand is increasing and the forecasts for the next year are looking extremely positive. We have two sites in Denmark – our site in Asnaes manufactures handsaws and the one in Thisted, where I am based, produces masonry drill bits.
“We cannot only compete on price because we are making high quality products compared to the cheap Chinese products now entering the market. So, we have to convince the customers that the extra quality and product life is worth paying for. It is also extremely important to bring something new to the market quickly otherwise your competitors will run all over you. However, it is not just a question of price – innovation is very important.”
Irwin’s strategy of growth through innovation has been proven with an unparalleled history of breakthrough products. Today Irwin Industrial Tools is a global company with a stable of brands that is the envy of the tool world – this will continue well into the future.
Irwin Industrial Tools
Products: Drill bits and saws
Sites: Thisted and Asnaes