From Wikipedia: Vlchek Tool Company was a hand tool manufacturer. Vlchek originally made and sharpened tools for stonecutters and masons, and later made tools for automobiles and for agriculture machinery. Vlchek Tool Company was founded as a blacksmith shop in 1894 in Cleveland, Ohio by Frank Vlchek, it was incorporated in 1909. In 1958 Pendleton Tool Industries Co. bought out the Vlchek Tool Company. In 1964 Pendleton itself merged with Ingersoll-Rand. In 1969 Ingersoll closed Vlchek's East 87th Street, Cleveland, Ohio plant. Please see the below images for a short biography on Frank Vlcheck. It appears enormous growth for the company was brought through the demand during WWI. Here's a link to one contract for vehicles where it appears Vlchek was the sole supplier for tools, a LOT of tools. Here is another wartime contract where Vlcheck shared tool supply duties with Champion Spark Plug.
Very little reference is made to the company in it's early years (prior to 1917) but we have found some tidbits.
According to Mr. Vlchek's autobiography of 1928, he started a small blacksmith shop in 1895, conducting general blacksmith tasks and repairing tools. By 1903, he had outgrown his small shop and moved to Central Avenue.
1904 and 1906 Cleveland City Directories list Frank J. Vlchek, Vlchek Tool Manufacturing Company. Address is listed at 8314 (old 1612) Central Ave.
February, 1910 - The Detroit Free Press reports that Mr. H. R. Kendal was badly injured by a piece of falling stucco in Detroit while representing the Vlchek Tool Co. of Cleveland.
June, 1916 - The Lima News reports that the Vlchek Tool Co. is increasing it's capital stock from $100,000 to $450,000.
1917 - The Accessory and Garage Journal, Volume 7 reports the following war supplies are to be provided to the military by Vlchek Tool:
- 11,000 Sets of Tool Bag Equipment
- 11,000 Brake adjustment wrenches
- 3,000 Worm Wrenches
- 6,000 Tappet wrenches
- 2,000 Valve lifters
- 3,000 1" Spring Clip open end wrenches
- 3,000 Pipe handles
- 2,000 Valve tappet gauges
in the 1918 edition of Automotive Industries, Vlchek Tool Company of Cleveland, OH is listed under "New Companies Formed in 1917," listing an initial capitalization of $900,000 in December of 1917.
The Electrical Year Book of June, 1921 lists the following officers for Vlchek Tool:
- Frank J. Vlchek - President and GM
- W. J. Hunkin - V.P.
- F. S. Macourek - Secretary & Treasurer
- C. H. Rock - Sales Manager
Vlchek Tool Co. (Cleveland, OH)
Sub Brands / Trade Names / Trademarks
- MOTIV - Block Text (Wrenches, Chisels & Punches) (First Use 5/3/1949)
- STAR - Block Letters (Wrenches & Wrench Sets) (First Use 1/3/1928, mentions use by "predecessors")
- Vlchek - Block Letters (First use 1/1/1910)
- Crusader (found in multiple local HW store ads)
- Wrench Klerk - Block Letters (Wrench Display) (First Use 1/10/1929)
- Vlchek - with stylized underline (All Tools) (First Use 1/1/1910)
- V.T.CO. - Block Letters (All Tools) (First Use 1/1/1914)
- VTCO - overlayed and inside shield (All Tools) (First Use 1/1/1910)
- LE GRAN - Block Letters (All Tools) (First Use 6/1/1928)
- All Purpose - Block Letters (Tool Sets - hammers, wrenches, etc.) (First Use 1/16/1928)
- All Purpose - Block Letters (Tools Set - Nail Sets, Punches, Chisels) (First Use 1/16/1928)
Contract Production for
- Bonney (Bon-E-Con) (Wrenches)
- Gamble Auto Supply - Tiger Tools (Wrenches)
- Montgomery Ward - Master Quality (Wrenches)
- Sears - Craftsman BT (Ratchets, Hammers)
- Sears - Dunlap (Wrenches)
- Sears - Fulton (Wrenches, Pliers)
- Sears - Merit (Wrenches)
- SW (Wrenches)
- Thorsen Speed Hed (Wrenches)
- Walden (Wrenches)
- Western Auto - Westcraft (Wrenches)
- Western Auto - Westline (Wrenches)
- Western Auto - Wizard (Wrenches)
- Western Auto - ChromeXQuality (Wrenches, Chisels)
The following is from "The Czechoslovak Review," Volume 5 - 1921 by Emil F. Prantner. An excellent early writeup on Frank Vlchek. An even more comprehensive biography can be found here.