Tom Itrich with first Huskie Tools

By Roger Richter, VP of Operations

In the beginning, there was the father, the son, and a young kid from Chicago.

The trio of Joe Itrich, Tom Itrich and Roger Richter broke into the utility industry selling hydraulic cutters under the name “Huskie Tools”. This name pays homage to Tom’s alma mater and its mascot, the Northern Illinois University Huskies. Although Huskie Tools is known throughout the industry today, the early days required a lot of hard work from the founders.

With a sales force of one (Tom), a bookkeeper (Joe) and one guy in charge of shipping, receiving, purchasing, repairs, maintenance, and whatever else needed to be done (Roger), the team had to wear different hats depending on what job was at task. There were no fax machines (they used an old Teletype), no cell phones, no GPS, not even a computer. Keeping inventory records meant updating the chalkboard hanging from the rafters. But part of the fun for the team was the daily challenges and they were determined to make a go of it.

Way back then, the Huskie Tools product line consisted of seven manual hydraulic cutters, five hydraulic head cutters and a couple of pumps—and that was it! The team had their work cut out for them because hydraulic cutters were new to the industry and the product line required a lot of salesmanship to get them into the linemen’s hands. Most line crews were using manual bolt cutters and the “state of the art” Huskie products required the linemen to accept a new way of cutting.

This new, manual hydraulic, cutting tool, the S-20, was able to replace five different bolt and cable cutters the linemen were currently using and was about a third of the size and weight of their current equipment. The S-20 weighed just six pounds and was only 15” long. This tool easily beat out the crews’ 17-pound and over three foot long cutters.

As the new concept started to catch on, the one man sales force who knew the advantages of the product began to put the pedal to the metal allowing Huskie Tools to grow and change industry standards.

Today, over 40 people work at Huskie Tools Headquarters in Glendale Heights, IL and the product line has grown to 100 products, including the popular ROBO Battery operated line.

Please check back for more Huskie Tools historical snippets from Roger Richter.