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Thread: The History of Pilliod Chests

  1. #1

    The History of Pilliod Chests

    I came across this great summary about Pilliod on a blog, so I thought I would share it.

    At the beginning of the last century, industrial development was in full swing in North America, and machinists needed tool boxes. There were at least 50 companies in the U.S. and Canada that catered to this trade and of these, at least 5 to 6 were located in Ohio. One was the Pilliod Lumber Company of Swanton, established by T.J. Pilliod in 1896. In addition to their "Built for Service" line of tool chests "for Machinists, Carpenters, Salesmen, Repairmen and Fishermen," they made jewelry boxes, silverware chests and, during the first World War, boxes for military medals.


    Later renamed the Pilliod Cabinet Company, with branches in Alabama and South Carolina, the company moved into the production of bedroom and occasional furniture, apparently joining the trend of using particle board by the 70's and 80's. In 1994, with $30 million in debt, the company was acquired by LADD Furniture Incorporated of High Point, North Carolina, at the time the fourth largest North American manufacturer of residential furniture.

    LADD renamed it Pilliod Furniture. LADD managed to rack up over $100 million in debt by 1999, at which point it was acquired by La-Z-Boy. In the face of steep Chinese competition in the furniture business, this turned out to be a disastrous move for La-Z-Boy, which in 2001 re-sold the Pilliod company to Michels & Company of South Carolina, becoming Michels-Pilliod Furniture of South Carolina.

    Michels-Pilliod has apparently gone out of business.

    As an aside, the Pilliod Cabinet Company should not be confused with the Pilliod Machine Company of Swanton, Ohio which made the Baker valve gear for locomotives and steam engines.

  2. #2
    Here is some more history from Ted Johnson's research:

    From the HISTORY OF FULTON COUNTY published in 1920 – “The Pilliod Lumber Company, organized July 8, 1902. - - -

    Since 1909 the company has discontinued the sale of lumber and has engaged in the manufacture of tool chests. The boiler blew up and destroyed the sawmill end of the business, and when the firm rebuilt they engaged exclusively in the manufacture of cabinets. In 1913 the factory burned, but it has since been rebuilt and cabinets are manufactured again”.

    From THE IRON AGE magazine published Sept 25 1913 – “The plant of the Pilliod Lumber Company, Swanton, Ohio, manufacturer of carpenters' tool chests, was burned September 12 1913”.

    From the WOOD CRAFT JOURNAL published in Oct. 1913 – “C. H. Pilliod of the Pilliod Lumber Co., manufacturer of cases for machinist, --------“.

    From the OLDTOOLS ARCHIVE – Inside the chest I found a letter dated 1980 from the previous chest owner to the Pilliod Co. The letter asked about the chest, and the return contained the following information: “Walter Hable, sales manager, stated that this chest was marketed as a Mechanic's or Machinist's Tool Case, the production of which was discontinued in 1926". (My guesstimate for the discontinuing date had been 1928).

    From the above it’s evident that they started their line of Machinist Tool Cases in 1909. I believe they didn’t start producing #50 Case (actually a Chest) until 1914. Pilliod discontinued their own line of tool cases and chests in 1926.


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