In 1890, Jesse and Lester Williams started a small machine shop on East Church Street, repairing bicycles and automobiles, and fulfilling occasional tool orders for local contractors. One local plasterer asked that they customize some tools for him. The customer was pleased with the improved product and more requests trickled in. The Williams brothers made a few more trowels and put them on the market. Word traveled fast and they began receiving orders from outside of the state. Their small shop quickly grew into a manufacturing and mail order business, and the brothers thought they were doing quite well.
The men needed more space and they moved to South 8th Avenue in 1902. They built a two-story machine shop, blacksmith shop and automobile shop, as well as a boiler and engine room and office. They began specializing in trowels and referred to that part of business as “Marshalltown Trowel Works.” Sales increased. The brothers and salesman Albert Higgin officially incorporated “Marshalltown Trowel Company” in 1905.
Marshalltown Trowel changed its name in 2003. The company had long since become more than just a “trowel” supplier and now offers over 5,000 products for professionals and do-it-yourselfers in asphalt, brick, concrete, drywall, EIFS, flooring, paint, plaster, stucco, tile and wallpaper. To its customers and others in the industry, the company is known for the best tools and it is known by one name—MARSHALLTOWN.
A long ways from the small machine shop the Williams brothers began over 125 years ago, MARSHALLTOWN is now one of the largest tool manufacturers in the world. Despite its growth and innovation, the company has stayed true to its roots. It still manufactures tools with superior quality and it still uses honesty and square dealing. However, staying true to its roots does not mean it hasn’t changed. MARSHALLTOWN continues making major improvements to its infrastructure and manufacturing and distribution processes to ensure that it can continue to serve its customers well for the next 125 years.