In 1884, Charles Irwin owned a pharmacy in Martinsville, Ohio. A local blacksmith, who was a customer of Mr. Irwin's, came up with the idea for a solid center auger bit. He sold the rights to this invention to Mr. Irwin and a year later, after patenting the Auger bit, Charles Irwin, along with four other business partners formed the Irwin Auger Bit Co.
About four decades later there was another blacksmith with an idea, this one in the small town of DeWitt, Nebraska. William Petersen was a Danish immigrant who invented the first locking pliers in his blacksmith shop. He began selling them from the trunk of his car to farmers and people in surrounding towns. He patented his new idea and called it the Vise-Grip.
It was the beginning of what would become two tool industry leaders, joining forces to create one industry giant.