A40-minute drive east of Des Moines, IA sits the small town of Newton – which is quintessential Iowa. A prideful, hard-working, rural city
surrounded by miles and miles of farmland. It’s almost the
last place one would expect to find the headquarters of a
hi-tech manufacturing/distribution company.
It’s fitting that such a company is one of the more
unique firms in the industrial supply sector. Recently
expanding to three other states after more than six
decades located solely in central Iowa, Cline Tool is taking
its hybrid distributor-supplier role to more customers than
ever before on the strength of its technical expertise that
rivals larger companies in the market.
Cline Tool was founded in 1948 in downtown Newton
(pop. 15,000) in a rented office space that included
little more than a desk, portable typewriter and file
cabinet. Eventually it moved into its current industrial
park location in 1989. The company had a headcount of
47 when it was bought in 2010 by its current owners —
which include husband-and-wife company executives Jim
and Sherri Long and Jim’s brother Ron Long — and now
has more than 100 employees as of April 2018. In 2015
alone, Cline Tool added locations in Rockford, IL; Fletcher,
NC; and Houston, TX.
Through all that time, and recent rapid growth,
Cline Tool has had a dual-identity as a distributor of
cutting tools and industrial supplies and a manufacturer
of custom cutting tools to customers of all sizes.
The company serves a range of industries, including
agriculture, automotive, construction equipment,
medical, appliances and hydraulic valve controls.
Nearly every industrial distributor today offers at least
a couple value-added services to complement its role as
a product source. Cline Tool takes it to a whole other
level, to the point that calling the company a distributor
would be a disservice, as its distribution division is just
one facet of its operations. Of the 65,000-square-foot
Newton headquarters, approximately 50,000 is essentially
a high-tech factory that produces state-of-the-art, custom
Distributor/custom tool manufacturer Cline Tool redefines
what’s possible in today’s competitive environment
By Mike Hockett
Hybrid Approach Employees at Cline Tool’s Newton, IA headquarters location pose around the company’s front lawn sign.
(Cline Tool photo)
A Cline Tool CNC machinist watches
a cutting tool’s progress. (ID photo)