Fayetteville Toolmaker Plans Celebration of 125 Years in Business

A 125-year-old Iowa company with a major operation in Northwest Arkansas will celebrates its long, impressive history at an event later this month.

Marshalltown, a company founded in Marshalltown, Iowa in 1890, plans to hold a community event at 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18 at its Industrial Drive location in Fayetteville, celebrating what the tool-manufacturing company has accomplished over its long history. Company owners will be present and there will be speakers, tours and product demonstrations as part of the day’s activities. Many former employees plan to attend.

The privately held company, which is still owned by descendants of company founders and brothers Jesse and Lester Williams, has operated in Fayetteville since 1981, said Jack Murders, vice president of Arkansas operations.

“If not for the Williams’ entrepreneurial spirit, Marshalltown would simply be a figment of our imagination,” said Joe Carter, Marshalltown president. “They turned a basic product into a tool manufacturer that grew to be a world leader.”

The company’s most familiar products are finishing trowels, tools used in masonry work that are produced at one of the company’s two Fayetteville plants. Thousands of them are produced in Fayetteville each day, Murders said.

“Fayetteville was a perfect location for us because we wanted to remain within a day’s drive of Marshalltown,” Murders said. “Being close to the University of Arkansas, and their engineering graduates, have been a big benefit over the years.”

Marshalltown, which has more than 300 employees between its Arkansas and Iowa operations, has plans to expand what it’s doing in Fayetteville. A 50,000-square-foot expansion at the Fayetteville operation on Industrial Drive will give the company about 400,000 square feet in Fayetteville. The larger 250,000-square-foot facility is located on Armstrong Drive.

"When people talk about Northwest Arkansas,  they usually talk about the University of Arkansas, Walmart, Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt," said Chung Tan, the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce's economic development director. "While those companies are great in contributing to the area economy, we also have many other great employers such as Marshalltown that are consistently offering job opportunities in Fayetteville and Northwest Arkansas. Their investments, leadership, and presence help our community remain vibrant and progressive."

The company’s 5,000 products includes several types of trowels, hydraulic mixers, concrete spreaders, brick jointers, sled runners, hand tracers, utility knives, chisels, brick hammers, shovels, brushes, tongs and heavy-duty plastic mortar pans.

The company’s premium products are high-quality staples at home improvement businesses such as Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement Center’s Canadian locations, True Value Hardware and Ace Hardware.