Pony Jorgensen executive interview series: Part 1.Tuesday, December 18, 2018, by Gregg Malanga
It has been two months since we relaunched our brand, much to the delight of many loyal customers. So for this blog post, we got in a room with Bill Sokol, VP of marketing at Pony Jorgensen, and chatted about the resurgence of the brand. In the following sections, we touch upon some interesting topics, and frequently asked questions posed by customers and social media followers. Read on to learn what Bill had to say.
Woodworking clamps, vises, fixtures, and tools.
Gregg: What was the first clamp Pony Jorgensen ever created?
Bill: The iconic Jorgensen handscrew. Hans Jorgensen patented it. Its steel adjusting screws make for more durability and greater clamping power. And the adjustable clamping jaws accommodate angles in the work being clamped. This handscrew was the beginning of Pony Jorgensen, and it’s ubiquitous in woodworking shops to this day.
Gregg: So what are the types of clamps Pony Jorgensen manufactures today?
Bill: The entire Pony Jorgensen collection includes:
- Bar clamps
- Pipe clamp fixtures
- Hand clamps and spring clamps
- Band clamps
- Framing clamps and corner clamps
- Specialty clamps
Our specialty clamps include classic Jorgensen adjustable handscrews, Jorgensen gear clamps, Pony cabinet claws, Pony three-way edging clamps, Pony hold-down clamps, Pony bench hold-down clamps, and Pony press screws. Additionally, we also manufacture protective clamp pads for bar clamps and pipe clamp fixtures.
Gregg: What projects are Pony Jorgensen clamps ideal for? What level of skill do you need to use them?
Bill: Pony Jorgensen clamps are ideal for use in woodworking, cabinetmaking, carpentry, and metalworking projects. Our clamps are designed for light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty use. They also meet the clamping needs of professional, commercial, industrial, and DIY woodworkers alike. Therefore, they can be used with relative ease by both beginners and professionals.
Gregg: What can these clamps be used for?
Bill: Uses include securing glue joints, edge-gluing, face-to-face gluing, holding dry-fitting parts before assembly, holding parts when machining, sandwich sheet metal sawing, and clamping work to a bench. They can also be used for intermediate assemblies or as stop blocks in machine setups. But it doesn’t end there. We often hear from customers that many of our clamps are versatile and, in a way, possess personalities of their own. Many woodworkers have discovered creative and unique uses for clamps in their lines of work.
For instance, I was privy to a woodworker’s rather unconventional use of the handscrew clamp the other day. This clever craftsman used it as a spreader by adding two poles and opening the clamp to push against the wood boards. This is quite the opposite of clamping, and one of those many uses you might discover as you get to know your clamps.
Gregg: What goes into making Pony Jorgensen clamps?
Bill: Pony Jorgensen clamps are made of the finest metals and very select wood. We use only high-quality ductile cast iron; drop-forged, high-carbon steel; and anodized aluminum in our clamps. Zinc or chrome plating is added to many clamps for increased durability and rust resistance. Cold-drawn steel screws let you clamp with confidence. Only the finest seasoned, straight-grain North American maple wood makes it into our iconic Jorgensen handscrews. All our seasoned hardwood clamp handles are meticulously shaped for maximum comfort to help them feel just right.
Gregg: Who are these clamps designed for?
Bill: Pony Jorgensen clamps are designed for professionals, DIYers, and hobbyists alike – woodworkers, metalworkers, craftspeople, cabinetmakers, carpenters, and everyone in between.
Gregg: Where can customers buy Pony Jorgensen clamps and tools?
Bill: Currently, our main distribution channel is online, with only a few outlets that offer a small selection of our lineup. Visit the Products section of our website and select the “Buy Now” tabs to learn who’s selling a specific clamp or model.
Gregg: When will Pony Jorgensen clamps become available in stores?
Bill: We are expanding retail distribution and working hard to get these terrific clamps on shelves in stores. Pony Jorgensen clamps, vises, and other tools will hit retail outlets in 2019 – soon enough, customers will be able to purchase them in store!
The brand, the history, and the company.
Gregg: When and how was Pony Jorgensen founded?
Bill: Pony Jorgensen was founded in 1903 by Adele Holman in Chicago, Illinois. A former professional opera singer, Adele envisioned a company that could grow through product innovation and woodworking tools with superior performance. But a woman running a manufacturing company was unheard of at the time, so Adele famously signed company documents and correspondences as “A. V. Holman” to hide her gender. She partnered with Hans Jorgensen, a Danish cabinetmaker, and Marcus Russ, a tool salesman. Adele’s pioneering spirit laid the groundwork for our company values.
Gregg: Did Pony Jorgensen go out of business a while ago?
Bill: We closed up shop for a bit to reorganize the company. But we’re back in business and under new leadership. We are committed to sustaining and growing jobs, distribution, and the overall brand. We’re also dedicated to expanding retail distribution so our customers can start purchasing their beloved clamps in stores once more.
Gregg: Since the brand relaunch, a lot of customers have been asking: Is this the original Pony Jorgensen?
Bill: Yes, it is. This is the one and only Pony Jorgensen that customers love and remember from our Chicago days. We remain committed to upholding founder Adele Holman’s vision and manufacturing woodworking tools of an uncompromising quality.
Gregg: Is manufacturing taking place in Chicago again?
Bill: No, it’s not. Manufacturing and production have moved to China. This move was not about cost; we could have manufactured our clamps more affordably in a number of other countries. The decision to move manufacturing to China is very strategic. In recent times, China has emerged as a global market leader and a center of excellence for the manufacture of these particular products. So our move eastward was to ensure quality – not to compromise on it.
Gregg: How will the new products live up to the standard of quality that customers have grown to expect from Pony Jorgensen clamps?
Bill: We anticipated there would be some customers who would be skeptical of the quality of our new line of clamps. And this is understandable. Over the years, a plethora of companies have moved manufacturing to other countries. The purpose behind many of these moves was to cut costs. In the process, many have often compromised on quality.
However, our move serves an entirely different purpose. Our reason to move production to China was rooted in our commitment to quality. We wanted to capitalize on the level of quality, sophistication, and specialization the manufacturing industry in China brings to the production of these particular products. Additionally, we’re making today’s Pony Jorgensen clamps from the original tooling and equipment that was used in the original Chicago plant. We are fully dedicated to delivering the same trusted tools our loyal customers have come to expect. The quality of our clamps has not and will not suffer, and that is of paramount importance to us.
Thanks for the enlightenment, Bill!