GERSTNER & SONS, INC
1884 was a very important year for H. Gerstner & Sons. It was the year company founder Harry Gerstner was born. Some other very notable and interesting events were taking place around the country at this time: the Statue of Liberty was completed, Boston and New York were first linked by telephone, the Cincinnati Reds held their first game at Crosley Field, and Dayton, Ohio, had its first paved street. Harry Gerstner first started working when he left high school at age 17. He signed on as a woodworking apprentice to become a pattern-maker starting at a salary of six cents an hour. At the completion of his four-year apprenticeship, Harry received a one hundred dollar bonus and was earning ten cents an hour - top wages for a journeyman woodworker in the Dayton area.
Harry Gerstner made his first tool chest while working as a pattern-maker. It took him a year to design and make, as he only spent evenings working on it. After it was completed a friend remarked that he would like to have one of these well-designed chests, so Harry built another one. Some of his fellow workers commented on how well made it was, and this got him thinking that there may be a demand for his chests, as they were better and different than anything on the market at that time. So, in 1906 while the Wright Brothers were perfecting their first airplane, Harry Gerstner used the 100 dollar bonus from his job and founded his own tool chest company. He picked up his first orders by making evening door to door sales calls on his many friends and acquaintances.
Harry decided to name the company H. Gerstner & Sons not only in honor of his father Herman Gerstner who introduced Harry to woodworking, but also because the name sounded established and he hoped that he would someday have his own sons to bring into the business. Indeed, it was a family business from its inception and Harry provided jobs for his father, his two brothers and his two sisters. His first woodworking tools were fairly basic and some of his machines were handmade. His first machine was a "saw-table," he says he made with an old motor from a washing machine. Harry designed his tool chests to hold the full compliment of a journeyman's precision tools and the basic principle of design for his tool chests was "A place for everything and everything in its place."
H. Gerstner & Sons started making tool chests exclusively, but throughout the years many other products have been introduced by the company. Today though, tool chests are still the most popular item in the Gerstner line. People have discovered that in addition to their use for tools, Gerstner Chests are ideal as jewelry chests, hobby chests or because of their unique styling they can be used as ideal accent pieces for home decor. The distinctive styling of Gerstner Chests has had a definite influence on other Gerstner products such as: attaché cases, collectors chests, fly tyer cases, and cigar humidors to name a few. Numerous movie stars and film personalities use Gerstner make-up cases and Gerstner customers include sports figures, famous statesmen and even several former presidents of the United States. Gerstner Tool Chests and other wood products represent both the quality of fine woodworking craftsmanship and the proud tradition of true American heritage