The tool that started it all. The Leatherman was the first of its kind, creating a category of products that have kept people ready for the unexpected for over 34 years. Learn more about our story of perseverance, ingenious design, and equipping people to save the day.
Tim Leatherman (an Oregon native) received his Mechanical Engineering degree from Oregon State University. While on a budget trip to Europe in 1975, Tim and his wife Chau constantly came across leaky hotel plumbing and road-side fixes for their cranky Fiat. Tim realized the need for a pliers based, multi-purpose tool. "I was carrying a scout knife and used it for everything from slicing bread to fixing the car. But I kept wishing I had a pair of pliers!".
When Tim came back to the states, he took his “multi-tool” idea, some sketches he made on the trip and got to work.
When Tim started on the prototype for this new tool, he estimated it’d take him a month. Instead, it took the next three years to build the prototype he envisioned and file for a patent. With the patent application and prototype in hand, he set off to sell his idea. Unfortunately, the companies he approached didn’t bite. Knife companies thought his invention was a tool, and tool companies thought it was a gadget. Neither were interested.
For another three and a half years, Tim faced one rejection letter after another. Until he partnered with his college friend, Steve Berliner, and in the spring of 1983, they received their first order for 500 tools from Cabela's and launched the first Leatherman tool.
Under one roof in Portland, Oregon, we embrace that same innovation, drive and dedication today. No matter the challenge or task at hand, we refuse to give up. Like Tim, and the people we build our products for - the builders, workers, problem solvers, pioneers and adventurers - we too are doers. And we won't stop until it's done, and done right.
It's what makes us proud to be Oregonians. And it's what makes Leatherman an American brand.