Allen Petersen, founder of American Tool Companies Inc, died on Sunday October 28 at the age of 66.
Mr Petersen built upon his grandfather's invention – the Vise-Grip locking plier – to create American Tool Companies (ATC), the world's largest privately-held hand tool and power tool accessory company.
Backed by Newell, he took control of the 70-year-old company in 1985, and through the 1980s and 90s he led a series of acquisitions, including Jack Saws, Joran drill bits, Chesco hex tools, and Irwin woodboring tools, culminating with the takeover of Sheffield-based Record Tools.
Following the sale of ATC to Newell and its rebranding as Irwin Industrial Tools, he held board positions with private and public companies in the healthcare, distribution and financial services industries before founding Draupnir, LLC, a holding and operating company with investments in a number of manufacturing, sales and marketing companies, including his namesake company Petersen Brands.
"Allen was prescient in his understanding that success for American industry and business required that they become international," said Draupnir chief executive Jeremy Hobbs.
"With knowledge and respect for foreign business and social customs, and relationships carefully nurtured over many years, Allen built a truly international company, with manufacturing and sales around the world. But even with his tremendous international success, Allen never forgot his Nebraska roots.
"He worked hard, remained humble, and kept his word. He was a man of strong principles, who was loyal and compassionate to his friends and colleagues.
"He strived to bring out the best in people, and he savoured his role as a mentor and a leader."
Mr Petersen had experienced some health problems, including complications from a blood clot, over the past three months, which required several hospital stays.
He had been making a steady recovery, but suddenly suffered a severe turn for the worse on October 27.
Doctors were unable to stabilise him, and he passed away peacefully on Sunday evening.
A celebration of his life will take place at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago on Friday November 2.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Allen D. Petersen Memorial Scholarship Fund and sent to Jeremy Hobbs, Draupnir LLC, 515 N State St, Ste 2650, Chicago IL, 60610, USA.