An American Saga
In 1923, Joe Sunnen knew he was onto something. He was 22 years old and had just patented his first product, a valve lifter tool he designed while working in his brother’s auto garage. All he needed was a way to build it and a place to sell it.
He would find both in St. Louis, Missouri. Joe moved to the city with his wife, Cornelia, in 1924. Lacking the funds to open a storefront of his own, Joe got creative. He converted his 1916 Hupmobile into a camper and took his business on the road. As he visited garages and job shops across the region, Joe’s tool sold itself.
The success of Joe’s first tool spurred him to design another and another after that. In 1928, he designed the first manual cylinder hone, firmly planting Sunnen’s roots in precision manufacturing. A modern version of the product is still found in tool rooms around the world.