AMPCO History

After settling in Milwaukee, August Littman, through hard work and ingenuity proved himself as a machinist in an automobile factory and discovered his talents as an entrepreneur, metallurgist and product designer.

Between 1901 and 1914, August started no less than three separate companies:  Eagle Steel Specialty Company, Littman Manufacturing Company (bronze manufacturers) and the American Metal Products Company (AMPCO).

Original AMPCO logo. Diamond shape. 1914

AMPCO was founded June 14, 1914 and August filed his first patent, two weeks later on June 29th, 1914 – filing for a new type of bronze valve, made for internal combustion engines.

AMPCO 1930 Catalog cover layout of tools chisels hammer heads crow bar pliers wrenches

Although bronze metals were already known at the time, August experimented with high aluminum content, leading to an impressive new alloy that was “hard enough to cut steel.”  The company promoted this new alloy as the “metal without equal” and made both castings and sheet, including valves, calorimeter bombs, runners, liners, etc., designed to resist the corrosive action of all commercial acids.

In 1922, the company introduced the first line of industrial hand tools for non-sparking, non-magnetic, corrosion resistant uses – and in 1930 launched a full product line catalog.

Although AMPCO has had robust experience in supplying the military, the heart of our business has been and continues to be commercial sectors: oil and gas refineries, pipelines, agriculture, manufacturing, chemicals and many more.

AMPCO Safety Tools Jupiter Road manufacturing plant, Garland, Texas. Overhead aerial view.

In the years that followed, AMPCO continuously evolved to meet the needs of industry.

In 1948, the company launched Ampco Pumps, building centrifugal pumps for saltwater applications, further demonstrating the exceptional corrosion resistant properties of the AMPCO alloys.  Eventually pumps, hand tools and valve products were rolled into a “Dallas Division” with manufacturing, sales and marketing operations in Garland, Texas.

Between 1967 and 2002 the company experienced many changes; first becoming a public company; then a merger that formed Ampco-Pittsburgh, listing on the New York Stock Exchange; a management buyout in 1989 that took the company private again; the divestiture of Ampco Pumps and finally bankruptcy in 2002.

As the bankruptcy concluded AMPCO was no longer the unified manufacturing company it had once been.  Ampco Pumps had been sold off a few years earlier in 1995.  A buy-out group bought the Ampco Metal U.S. operations, later selling it to a European investor in 2009.  The “AMPCO Dallas Division”, consisting of AMPCO Safety Tools sales, marketing and manufacturing operations was acquired through a management buyout and continues to this day, owned and led by the same team that bought the division in 2002. 

AMPCO most Popular Tools showing pliers shovel wrenches screwdriver ball peen hammer

Today, we offer over 2,000 different hand tools, the majority of which are made in America.*  Metallurgical formulas developed by a handful of engineers in the early 1900’s for valves, bombs, propellers, rods and sheets have been refined and improved through decades of in-field hand tool use and combined with proprietary manufacturing processes to create the most durable non-sparking, non-magnetic hand tools available today. 

AMPCO Safety Tools was founded in America, invented non-sparking, non-magnetic and corrosion resistant hand tools in America and has continuously manufactured hand tools in America for one hundred years.  Our commitment to manufacturing in the United States is prominently seen and easily identified by the addition of USA to our logo.

AMPCO Safety Tools long logo with registered mark and USA in the diamond
The Original Manufacturer of Non-Sparking,
Non-Magnetic, Corrosion Resistant Hand Tools®

* AMPCO Safety Tools products are Made in the USA except as otherwise noted.