ACORN MANUFACTURING COMPANY
An American Iron Story
In 1937, Victor Shaffer, a salesman for National Manufacturing Co. Inc. near New Haven Connecticut began manufacturing his own RIST-O-KRAT Builder’s Hardware in his garage, thus founding Acorn Manufacturing Company. This original hardware line was made from cast brass and was finished in matte black. However, during the Second World War brass shortages forced Acorn Manufacturing to temporarily cease production. When Victor returned to work post World War, health complications caused him to seek a buyer for his company.
In 1948, a newly unemployed Percy Lincoln Slayton, purchased Acorn Manufacturing and moved it into the second floor of an old jewelry factory in Mansfield, Massachusetts; the same town where it is located today. Manufacturing was done at the jewelry factory by Percy and his two other employees. At night, Percy’s wife, Marguerite and her sister, Mildred Jones would work, unpaid, packing the hardware and managing the books from their living room. Under Percy, Acorn would see its first year of production in 1949, that year Acorn had $7,400 in sales. During this period, Acorn made the switch from cast brass hardware, to the cast and forged iron hardware still manufactured today.
In 1955, a young Robert DeLong, fresh out of the Navy, began work for his father-in-law Percy, running a drill press by day and book-keeping by night. With business expanding, Percy purchased five acres of land in Mansfield in 1962 and built the first iteration of the factory in which Acorn still operates today. In 1970, when Percy retired, Robert succeeded him as President of Acorn Manufacturing Company. Under Robert’s leadership, Acorn saw unprecedented growth; in the number of employees, diversity of products, and sales and profit. Acorn’s commitment to quality stood out among competitors.
In 1979, Robert’s son Eric Lincoln Delong, after a childhood spent among Acorn’s machines and fresh out of Northeastern University, began working full-time at Acorn Manufacturing Company. In these years Acorn became known as “The Cadillac of Colonial Hardware,” for quality and durability and in 1984 broke $1 million in sales for the first time. Eric went on to work in almost every part of the business before succeeding Robert as President in 1998.
Seeing the changing market and style of hardware, Eric grew Acorn through diversification, in many and sometimes unexpected ways. In 2006, Acorn Manufacturing purchased Tremont Nail Company, a 200-year-old company and only full-line manufacturer of cut nails in the world and still made entirely here in the USA. Tremont was a good fit for Acorn given their same commitment to their product quality.
“Then in 2007, Acorn expanded its product line again and purchased OverBoards, a beautiful line of solid aluminum heater covers; further diversifying their catalogue of products. ”
During the 2008 Great Recession, sales from Tremont Nail Company kept the company afloat through the hard years that followed. Acorn’s ability to remain relevant with the ever-changing consumer demand set the company up to acquire two other failing square-cut nail manufacturers; Wheeling Labelle Cut Nails in 2009 and Glasgow Steel Nail Company in 2013. With the purchase of Wheeling Labelle, Glasgow and previously Tremont, Acorn became the only manufacturer of cut nails in the U.S and in all of Europe. The quality of Acorn’s product surpasses any competitors in Asia.
Today, Acorn is a 3rd generation family owned and run business; most of the employees have been with Acorn for decades or longer. The DeLong family is proud of Acorn’s beautiful history and story of triumph through difficult economies, changing markets and overseas competition. Acorn’s priority has and always will be the quality of their products. Staying true to that commitment is what continues to drive Eric and the Acorn family.