What do fish have to do with Coast? Actually, a lot. Established in 1919, Coast has called the Northwest home ever since Henry Brands founded the company near the banks of the Willamette River in Portland Oregon. Over the years, Coast has continued where Henry left off — making tools for professionals and those who work like professionals that make their tasks safer, easier and more enjoyable.
Shortly after moving to Oregon, Henry Brands worked as a sales manager for a large wholesale hardware company, traveling to towns of all sizes throughout the Northwest selling hardware—including cutlery—to local merchants. After seeing firsthand that the fillet knives he was peddling were wholly inadequate for gutting the Pacific Northwest’s 50-pound chinooks, Henry Brands had a better idea. He teamed up with a local metal smith to design and fashion a new fillet knife. This new tool was stiffer, had a thicker blade and featured a metal scoop on the back. Now slicing, cleaning and filleting could be done with one tool.
Henry sold these new Salmon Fillet knives out of the back of his Model T along with his other hardware items. As word spread about this new Coast fillet knife Henry couldn’t keep up with demand. In 1919, Henry Brands went into business for himself and officially started Coast Cutlery Co.
This being the Pacific Northwest, there was no shortage of other trades in need of specialized knives and tools. What could make lumbermen’s, farmers’, ranchers’ and lawmen’s jobs better, safer and easier? Henry listened and delivered. Case in point, in 1923 Coast created and produced the first “Scribner’s knife” specifically for lumberjacks to mark which Douglas Fir trees they were preparing to cut down. Later in 1931, Coast improved the grip of fixed-blade hunting knives by offering one with a leather handle. Innovations continued throughout the coming decades.
Coast continued as a small specialty manufacturer through the next three decades. In 1952, shortly after World War II, Henry W Brands Sr. passed Coast Cutlery to his son Henry Brands Jr. Henry Jr expanded the company significantly from 1954 to 1980, adding many new products including scissors, shears and kitchen cutlery. He also expanded the company geographically from the Pacific Northwest, through California and out to the Rocky Mountains.
Not long after, Henry’s grandson David Brands started working for the company at age 12 as a warehouse helper in the packaging department. Now leading the company, he never lost sight of his grandfather’s mission and vision. David quickly brought new production techniques to Coast, including the use of high-density plastics, easier-to-sharpen stainless-steel blades and the use of aluminum alloys for linings and bolsters.
In 1983, Coast became a pioneer in the multi-tool business. David Brands designed and developed a new line of compact pocket tools. These tools included pliers, scissors, screwdrivers, wrenches, saw blades, files and more. Today, Coast is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of multi-tools under the names Pocket Pliers, Pro Pocket Pliers, and Micro-Pliers.
Product innovation continued into Coast’s newest product line—LED flashlights. Staying true to the company mission, COAST began producing LED lights that made people’s jobs and recreation easier, safer and more enjoyable. Patented optic systems and advanced electronics are what make Coast professional LED flashlights some of the brightest and most functional in the market, and are why Coast is the market leader in this space today.
Coast was one of the pioneers in handheld LED powered lights and later incorporated the same advanced technology to headlamps and lanterns.
· 1996- Coast introduces first LED Product (c50)
· 2002- Coast introduces first LED Flashlight (now the G25)
· 2003- Coast introduces first LED Headlamp (now the HL3)
· 2005- Coast introduces first LED Lantern
· 2010- Coast develops Pure Beam Focusing Optic for flashlights and headlamps
· 2013- Coast develops the Flex Charge Dual Power recharging system
Looking back over the last 100 years, it’s easy to say the Pacific Northwest is somewhat tamer now than in 1919, but so what? The true origins of Coast’s products have never changed — they’re built for the working professional and born of insight, innovation, problem solving, hard work and craftsmanship. For almost 100 years, and three generations of the Brands Family, Coast has made products that make people’s jobs and recreation easier, safer and more enjoyable.