Tim Leatherman received his BS degree in 1970. He is founder, chairman and chief executive of Leatherman Tool Group, Inc. As designer of the original multi-purpose tool, he developed the kernel of an idea into a highly successful business. His company is based in Portland, Oregon, and has grown to over 500 employees since 1983. There are now several models of Leatherman Tools that are sold in over 8000 stores in the US and over 90 countries worldwide. In development of his company, he has had over 10 consecutive years with gross sales increases of 50 percent or more. Mr. Leatherman is a holder of many patents.
Leatherman graduated from Oregon State University in 1970 with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. According to an article in The Oregonian, "Leatherman came up with the idea of a 'Boy Scout knife with pliers' during a 1975 driving tour of Europe with his wife, when he was unable to use his pocket knife to fix his repeatedly malfunctioning car." It took him several months afterwards to refine his idea, and he was granted a patent on the first Leatherman tool in 1980. Leatherman spent the next few years attempting to market his product to large companies with technical staff, such as AT&T, but this was largely unsuccessful. The tool eventually gained popularity through mail order catalogues.