Wiss & Sons Timeline

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    Jacob Wiss immigrates to the U.S.A.

    1847 - Thirty year-old cutler and gunsmith Jacob Wiss immigrates to the United States from Switzerland. He settles in Newark, New Jersey and is hired by R. Heinisch Sons Company, producers of shears and other cutlery. After getting laid off by Heinisch due to a lack of business, Wiss opens his own small shop in a former stable on Bank Street, forging surgical instruments and shears.

  • 05/31/48

    Wiss® launches scissor factory in Newark, New Jersey, USA

    1848 - Wiss follows Old World manufacturing practice, using a natural stone grinding wheel and a wooden polishing wheel, but shows he is not completely bound by tradition when he introduces power to his one-man operation: The grinding and polishing wheels are turned by a Saint Bernard running on a treadmill. By the end of 1848, business has grown so much Wiss gets a second dog.

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    Jacob Wiss Marries

    1849 - Wiss marries. He and his wife, Maria, move in above the shop on Bank Street. They will always live in rooms above their place of business, even after they have two sons and two daughters.

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    1850's Growth and Expansion

    1850s - Two moves are made to successively larger shops on Bank Street. Wiss produces extremely high quality shears, scissors, table knives, surgical instruments, and razors. Steam now powers the grinding and polishing wheels. Wiss is now a formidable competitor of R. Heinisch Sons Company, his first employer when he came to the United States.

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    1860's - Civil War Production

    Early 1860s - During the American Civil War, the Wiss shop makes scissors (with two equal-sized round rings) for Union Army medical units, and shears (with a larger ring for more leverage) to cut uniforms. Late 1860s - The introduction of power driven sewing machines in the manufacture of military uniforms, boots, and shoes brings those industries into the factory system, creating extensive new postwar markets for Wiss scissors and shears. The company also benefits from development of home sewing machines and from lowered textile costs created by a proliferation of New England mills.

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    1870's - Wiss & Sons

    1870s - The two Wiss sons, Frederick C. J. Wiss and his younger brother Louis are brought into the business at an early age. The firm's name is changed to Wiss & Sons Company.

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    12/31/79 to 11/30/85

    Growth and Prosperity

    Early 1880s - The company grows quickly, expanding its product offering to include several lines of shears and scissors, trimmers, pruning shears, and tin snips. Manufacturing and wholesale-lot shipping are supplemented by the company's own retail outlet at the shop site.

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    Jacob Wiss Passes.

    1880 - Jacob Wiss dies and Frederick becomes president at the age of twenty-two. He and Louis initiate an ambitious program of promoting Wiss products as superior to European imports. The latter had been losing ground because of the hesitance to accept new manufacturing and processing methods. The sons share their father's determination to stick with top-of-the-line quality, despite competition from numerous less expensive scissors and shears.

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    A Warrantee Without Question

    1887 - A new two-story brick factory is opened. Frederick Wiss states the new facility is "one of the finest works of its kind in the world, fully able to sustain our well-known reputation of manufacturing only strictly first quality and fully warranted goods." The guarantee was no idle claim. Wiss replaces any broken product, regardless of the reason for damage.

    1887 - At the same time the new factory is opened, the company is reorganized into three divisions: manufacturing, retail, and real estate. All manufacturing is moved into the new building, but the retail segment, Wiss Store, remains on Bank Street. Later, the Wiss Store is moved to another location where it begins specializing in jewelry, subsequently expanding to include branch operations in neighboring towns. For a time, it is the largest retail jewelry firm in New Jersey. The third division, Wiss Realty Corporation, is a real estate holding company.

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    Acquisition and Failure

    1898 - The manufacturing division, including the new plant, is sold to the National Shears Company, better known as the Shear Trust. Created and led by J.H. Clauss of the Clauss Shear Company, the Shear Trust purchased five manufacturing operations in rapid succession. Three of the companies were closed, but by operating Wiss and Clauss Shear Company, the trust controlled from 65 to 70 percent of the shears and scissors output in America. Success seemed assured, but in less than two years the organization was declared bankrupt.

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    The Rebirth of Wiss

    1900 - The Wiss family buys back the Wiss factory and reincorporates it as J. Wiss & Sons Company. Frederick Wiss is elected president-treasurer with Louis Wiss as secretary.

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    1903 - Wiss Realty Corporation builds Newark's first skyscraper.

  • 05/31/06

    The first power drop forging hammers were installed in Newark in 1906

    1906 - Power drop hammers for hot forging the frames of steel shears are installed, making it possible to weld tough high-carbon steel blades to softer, more malleable steel. This new process makes Wiss shears and scissors virtually indestructible.

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    Nationwide Advertising - A first in the Industry

    1907 - To open new channels to the customer market through hardware and cutlery retailers, Wiss launches the industry's first national advertising campaign in such popular magazines as The Ladies Home Journal.

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    1908 - Louis Wiss dies at the age of 48.
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    Perfecting Forged Steel Handles

    1912 - The company perfects a process of forging steel handles. The Wiss "steel forged" process allowed the welding of inlaid blades of high carbon crucible steel to the forged steel frames of tailors' shears.

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    World's Largest

    1914 - Wiss purchases R. Heinisch Sons Company, becoming the world's largest producer of fine shears and scissors.

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    05/31/14 to 05/31/18


    1914 to 1918 - World War I brings further growth when imports from European cutlery centers of Sheffield, England, and Solingen, Germany, are halted. Production soars to plant capacity during the war and continues at a high level immediately after.

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    The Aftermath of War

    1920 - In its haste to rehabilitate a defeated enemy and encourage it to pay war debts, the government permits Germany to dump large quantities of duty-free goods on American markets, including scissors priced at less than half the cost of domestic merchandise. Before the tariffs of 1923 rescue American industry, many manufacturers go bankrupt. Wiss is among the survivors, but many months are required to reestablish its position with a price conscious public amidst the leftover glut of cheap goods. One method it uses is to direct a new sales effort toward department stores, which are growing rapidly in size and number in the postwar period.

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    Peaks in Production

    Late 1920s - Production peaks at more than two million pairs of shears and scissors per year, made in 250 different varieties.

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    05/31/30 to 05/31/39

    Surviving the Great Depression

    1930s - Frederick Wiss dies in 1931 and is succeeded as president by his older son Robert. His other son, Norman, is elected vice president and treasurer. The Great Depression takes a heavy economic toll. Although Wiss never closes its doors, sales drops to almost nothing and hours are cut drastically in response. When at last the nation begins to recover, Wiss encourages sales by introducing such new products as pinking shears with zigzag edges and a new Metalmaster line of industrial cutting tools.

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    11/30/41 to 06/30/45


    Early 1940s - Wiss products are converted to military applications during World War II, sometimes in unusual ways. Cuticle and nail scissors prove ideal for the manufacturer of precision radar and radio systems. In more conventional applications, metal snips are used building aircraft, and surgical scissors go to hospitals on every fighting front.

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    07/31/45 to 11/30/49

    The Post WWII Years

    Late 1940s - As sales revert to civilian markets after the war, its military record, particularly in the manufacture of industrial shears, strengthens the company's position. Wiss compound action "aviation snips," a key tool for cutting aircraft sheet metal during the war years, become a best seller.

  • 05/31/48

    Wiss® 1948 Inspection Line

    Assembling scissors at Wiss®. This picture was taken in 1948 as part of a group of pictures taken in honor of Wiss®' 100th anniversary

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    12/31/49 to 11/30/59

    The '50's

    1950s - Vice President Norman F. Wiss dies in 1954. The following year, President Robert Wiss dies and is succeeded by his only son Richard. That same year, the jewelry division is sold. In 1957, manufacturing capabilities are expanded with the purchase of the Kroyden Golf Club Company factory in Maplewood, New Jersey. As a division of Wiss, the Maplewood plant produces snips and garden tools. In 1959, the Wiss Realty Corporation is dissolved.

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    12/31/59 to 11/30/69

    The '60's

    1960s - Wiss buys the Crook-Miller Company of Hicksville, Ohio, manufacturer of wooden garden tool handles, and starts a three-stage expansion program at the Newark plant.

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    Construction and Expansion

    1970 - Construction of a warehouse, manufacturing facility, and a new office is completed. Wiss buys the Boker Manufacturing Company's factory adjacent to the Wiss division plant at Maplewood. With that acquisition, Wiss becomes producer of the renowned Boker "Tree Brand" pocket and hunting knives.

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    Acquisition - Again

    1976 - Wiss is acquired by Cooper Industries, Inc., and becomes part of The Cooper Group, Cooper's highly successful hand tool division. In subsequent years, the division is renamed Cooper Hand Tools, and then, when it is merged with the Cooper Power Tools division, simply Cooper Tools.

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    Recent History - Apex

    2010 - Wiss becomes a brand of Apex Tool Group, a joint venture combining two premier tool manufacturers: Cooper Tools and Danaher Tool Group.

  • 05/31/11

    Wiss® 2011 HVAC Launch

    Wiss® expands its offering with a new line of heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) tools including Hand Crimpers, Hand Steamers and Lightweight Aluminum Handle Snips