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Leatherman Potential In New Zealand

The Leatherman multi-tool is given credit for a range of amazing rescue and fix-it feats and now the American-based company that invented the tools is targeting New Zealand with the belief it can become one of its top markets.

Leatherman Vice President, Roger Bjorklund, was in New Zealand recently to discuss this country’s potential with the Leatherman’s sole New Zealand authorised distributor and liked what he saw.

“New Zealand could be one of our top markets in the world because of the very hands on, do-it-yourself, fix-it-yourself attitude, and that’s what our product is all about,” said Mr Bjorklund.

“Our future is dependent on international markets and New Zealand is going to be a big piece of that,” he said.

The Leatherman Tool Group is headed by Tim Leatherman, now 53, who designed the original multi-tool – a compact pocket device with blades, files, screwdrivers, wire cutters, knife, scissors and pliers, to name some of the components.

Unreliable hotel plumbing and a cantankerous old automobile on his low-budget trip through Europe in 1975 resulted in Tim Leatherman inventing the original multi-tool. He offered to sell his idea for $10,000 and when he failed to find any takers started his own business, which is now worth more than $100 million.

He has never borrowed a cent to develop the business and the company has the luxury of selling everything it makes. Even by forecasting nine months ahead, it is still pushed to meet demand.

There are currently 10 tools in the Leatherman range, with each new model providing additional, innovative features to earlier models. Tolerances are much tighter and very consistent, to 3000th of an inch. Every edge of a screwdriver is subjected to special grinding to ensure it bites into screws and there is the most consistent knife sharpening of any multi purpose tool.

“There is still room to grow. None of the existing Leatherman products has been developed for one specific activity, such as fishing and it is this specific application that could be the basis for product development in the future,” suggested Mr Bjorklund.

The company thrives on “tool tales” from throughout the world. A mountain biker crossing Siberia’s Kilimski track fixed broken spokes on his bike with his Leatherman tool; a family on holiday relieved its pet dog of howling pain by using the scissors of the Leatherman to cut away tar that had cemented the hair between the paw pads; and there is the case of a fisherman who cut free a hook lodged deep into his companion’s stomach during salmon fishing.

New Zealand “tool tales” also abound, with one from a fencing worker who arrived in the back country minus his tools but managed to complete a day’s work using his Leatherman, and the hot air balloonist who never takes to the air without his tool.


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