The 100th anniversary of operations of Larsen & Shaw was recently marked by this Walkerton, Ontario manufacturer of hinges and hardware stampings. The company was founded by Carl C. Larsen in March of 1919. His journey to Walkerton started in 1905 when he left his birthplace of Fredrickstad, Norway and boarded a ship bound for America. He was 17 years old and was one of millions of immigrants to enter the US through Ellis Island in New York. He eventually made Grand Rapids, Michigan his home where he started a family, learned the tool & die trade and became a manufacturing engineer for Linderman Company of Muskegon. In 1917 he was temporarily transferred to Woodstock, Ontario as an inspector in the building of gun mounts for the US and Canadian navies. In 1918, having developed a desire to stay in Canada and learning of a defunct metal working company in Walkerton that manufactured saddle hardware, Carl Larsen set out on horseback to make the 160 km trip from Woodstock. He liked what he saw and a partnership with Farquhar Shaw was formed.
The initial market for the fledgling company was hardware stampings for the surrounding furniture industry. Hinges were soon added to the product line and other industries added to the customer base. In an effort to keep the wheels turning during the depression the art of metal spinning was learned by the founders son Carl J Larsen, which enabled the production of copper cookware and other serving containers. World War II changed production priorities with addition of aircraft metal stampings, striker points for land mines and fuse canisters for naval shells.
Over the years the product line gradually focused on the production of hinges, and today the company supplies a broad spectrum of industries throughout North America with standard and custom continuous hinges, butt hinges and metal stampings. Continuous improvement of the technologies and techniques for efficient, high speed and flexible production is an ongoing objective, aided by fully integrated tool & die and plating & finishing departments. The company also utilizes state of the art laser cutting, assembly and packaging operations. The company was an early adopter of the ISO quality management systems in support of its culture of continuous improvement. Universal profit sharing has been in place since 2002 in order to give all employees a stake in the company’s success.
Larsen & Shaw has been a long time member of Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium and tributes EMC for many key programs that have been transformational for the company over the last 20 years. Most important of these has been the culture, philosophies and tools of Lean Manufacturing/Management. Having a local source for training, consulting and networking with other industries has been an immensely valuable service provided by EMC
In addition to the 93,000 sq. ft. facility in Walkerton, the company built a plant and started production in Rome, Georgia in 2017 under the name of Carlsen Precision Manufacturing Inc. Also in 2017 Larsen & Shaw was chosen as Canada’s Family Enterprise of the Year by the Family Enterprise Xchange.
The Larsen family stewardship of the company is based on a deep commitment to the company’s 107 employees and to our community. This originates with and is supported by Our Why, Our Values and Our Guiding Principles and is demonstrated with ongoing investment in people and technology.