Timing is everything and Mathias Klein had timing on his side, he began working in a time when the communication industry was like the pony express of sending a telegraph. Mathias Klein emigrated from his homeland of Germany to America, in order to practice his trade of blacksmithing, in the booming town of Chicago’s downtown business district.
There is a story that is noted as the beginning of Klein’s career, it is said to have happened in 1857, the occurrence of which changed his career path forever. A telegraph lineman had brought in his broken pair of pliers to Klein’s small forge shop to be repaired. In actuality the pliers were only half broken, one side was damaged but the other side was still in good enough working shape. As such, the telegraph lineman asked Klein if he would repair only the broken half for him. Mathias Klein agreed, forged and finished a new half for the tool, riveted it to the old, and the lineman happily went on his way. Shortly thereafter however, the lineman returned to report to Mathias that the other, original half of the tool had now broken. When Mathias Klein went ahead and finished the second half of the pliers, he inadvertently had produced the first true set of Klein pliers and transformed himself from a simple blacksmith, into an inventor and future world famous manufacturer.
Klein became relatively successful in the 1860’s as the Civil War arrived and with it an ever increasing need for dependable telegraphic communication. This caused Klein’s specialized hand tools to be requested with much greater demand. This period was followed by repetitive, cyclical booming periods for Klein as his business was able to find prosperity again and again. Following the Civil War, the telephone came, then the electric light, and then the great railroads and rail wars that opened up new territories and settlements. As the business developed and grew, Klein’s hand tool business became a respected full-fledged story of American entrepreneurial success and a living demonstration of all that hard work, a dream, and an opportunity could achieve.