Earl Walker: CEO of Carr Lane Manufacturing

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Earl Walker, CEO of St. Louis, Missouri-based Carr Lane Manufacturing, may not be Henry Ford or Andrew Carnegie, but he belongs to a group of manufacturers who have contributed significantly to building the nations industrial culture and economic character.

Walker started Carr Lane in 1952 in a garage; today, the company is a multimillion-dollar global leader in clamp and tooling equipment manufacturing.

Walker, who in 1952 was a welder in his early 30s, had to perform odd jobs, such as delivering groceries and driving delivery trucks, to support his parents financially. When a fire burned down his fledgling operation in his garage, he was left with nothing but a broken-down welder, a hacksaw, and a drill press. However, difficulties could not deter Walker from creating a world-class tool manufacturing enterprise.

Carr Lane Manufacturing, which began with five employees, supplies clamps and tools to customers across the globe and in dozens of industries, including the automotive, aerospace, appliance, furniture, and medical equipment sectors. Currently, Carr Lane and its subsidiaries employ about 325 people at their plants and warehouses throughout the U.S.

For years, Carr Lane and its subsidiaries have supplied clamps, pins, chuck jaws, fixturing devices, and components to metalworkers. In 1979, the company purchased the Texas Toll Manufacturing Company, and four years later, it formed an alliance with the Roemheld Company of West Germany. This strategic alliance enabled Carr Lane to manufacture hydraulic clamps.

Over its more than 50 years of existence, Walker’s enterprise has also sold bronze, brass, aluminum, stainless steel, and painted artwork by sculptors from all over the world. The company’s 694-page catalog features more than 100,000 products, ranging from ordinary clamps to complex devices used in nuclear power systems.

Keeping pace with technological advances, Carr Lane is now focusing more on concurrent engineering. The company has made its 20,000 CAD drawings available for free on the Internet to potential customers.

According to a study, engineers spend around 18% of their work time locating vendors. Under the leadership of Walker, Carr Lane provides easy and efficient access to engineers. Valuing the customer’s time, the company honors its deadlines religiously.

Carr Lane owes its preeminence in tool manufacturing to Walker’s twin mottoes of “customer satisfaction” and “savings through standardization of parts.”

Beyond the time and energy he has dedicated to Carr Lane, Walker has contributed to many other professional and philanthropic ventures.

In 1990, the St.Louis Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives named Walker and his wife, Myrtle Walker, “Outstanding Philanthropists.” In 1993, Walker was also bestowed with the prestigious fellow grade of membership granted by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). The organization honored him with its Management Achievement Award as well. Additionally, the Kirkwood Chamber of Commerce named Walker “Businessman of the Year” for 1999-2000.

The Walkers have also set up the Earl E. and Myrtle E. Walker Scholarship at the Washington University School of Art.

On the net:Biography: Earl E. Walker, CEO

Background on Earl E. and Myrtle E. Walker
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