We’re celebrating our 90th year of business in 2022! Follow along with our 4-part series as we dive into what makes us innovative, genuine, exceptional and engaged!
INNOVATING SINCE 1932
Nothing lays a foundation for a great origin story like a little electricity and a dash of old fashioned hard work. Here’s a deeper look into how we got our start.
It wasn’t long before a grizzled old man with a leathery face and overalls stopped and asked me if I needed some help. I threw my flat tire in the back of his truck and jumped in. I introduced myself…”I’m JD Forney”… and thanked him for the ride. I asked him about the power lines running overhead, along-side the road. He thought about that for a few minutes and said it really has changed their lives. As we turned into the rutted dirt driveway, I noticed the heavy black wires coming from the power pole directly into his house and barn.
“We have lights where we had candles and kerosene lamps a decade ago”, said the farmer. “We now have a washing machine, a water heater, a toaster and oven, a few small appliances, and a radio.” We walked to the barn and stepped into a large open space that included a work bench and some hand tools. He jumped right in and pulled the tire apart and slid out the innertube. He fixed that tire in nothing flat. He let me pump up the tire with a hand pump. The next thing I know I am back at my car and this grizzled old farmer helped me get on my way.
I thanked the old guy for helping me and offered to pay him for his help. He refused the offer as that is what people did in the middle of a depression. We help each other.
A few years later those REA lines still intrigued me. I had invented a welder to sell alongside a new way to run a demo in the farmland. So, I did what any resourceful 30- something entrepreneur would do. I tied a power cord around my waist and shimmied up that pole. I was able to hook a positive and negative lead to the power line and then ran that lead to the welder sitting at the base of that pole. I was surprised it actually worked. I went to the REA (Rural Electric Association) the very next day and convinced the Association to allow me/my company to climb those poles and hook power leads to the welder. We were the only company in the US allowed to do that. This opened a whole new market for us. The farming industry represented nearly 7 million farms. We had a product that helped a farmer mend things. A company and a product that helped the farmer fix his tractor, a plow or repair a combine. Money was scarce during the depression, but if it meant a farmer could fix it himself, that would save him money. This opened up endless possibilities for us and we took advantage of it.
Story by Steve Anderson, President & CEO of Forney Industries, as a testament to the innovation that began his family's company 90 years ago.
I grew up on a farm where we had to fix everything. We had to crank start our car. I left and became an architect. As the years passed the farm always called out to me. Now I own Forney welders and plasma cutters and enjoying once again some of what I lost. Reading Mr. Forney’s early experience was such a joy. Thanks for sharing, I understand the need to innovate…..so much easier when you are Forney equipped 🙂
We so appreciate your story and kind words. Stories like these are so inspiring- and we love to hear them!
I have a Forbes mailer from 1959 that’s in pretty good shape, it’s like a mini catalogue. Would that be of any interest to you guys?
Hi Paul, that’s so cool! Email email@example.com and they’ll ask you some more questions about this cool piece of history!
Great story! Plato said it a long time ago – Necessity – the mother of invention. I grew up on a small farm in the 60’s and 70’s and i can assure you a welder is VERY important. I have sold Forney accessories for 40 years and hardly a day goes by without our store solving someone’s problem with one of your problems. Thank you for a great product and a great history lesson!
Love this story, thank you for sharing it. I grew up fixing stuff on a small farm in Southern Ontario. AC “buzz boxes” were an important part of our lives, we kept ourselves and neighbours working.
Keep up the good work
That is so awesome to hear- welders are certainly very important assets many lives! Thank you for sharing!
In the early 70’s at a rural farm auction I purchased a well used, but still highly serviceable original REA approved Forney “buzz box” welder to learn how to arc weld and carbon arc braze. The primary amperage draw of that welder when operating totally flat out was well within the amperage draw circuit breaker limit of our electric clothes dryer. I made up a 25 foot long appropriate heavy wire gauge extension cord and then dropped the cord through a basement window so that I could use the welder out in the driveway. I used that old Forney welder out in the driveway for 30 years before I moved to a smaller place and had to pass that welder on to a new owner. That old Forney welder was so well built that I strongly suspect that it is in all probability still being used today. My old Forney welder was always my idea of an extremely well designed and manufactured product that could stand the rigors of an extremely long life cycle.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us! We love to hear how our old machines have positively impacted the lives of our customers. It’s sounds like you are extremely innovative as well. Thank you again for sharing!