Ko-ken Tools History

Today, Ko-ken is one of the leaders in international tool production, designing and manufacturing tools in-house at the Ko-ken facility using the latest technologies to deliver the highest quality products possible. But how did the company grow to become what it is today?

It all started with the dream of one man, the founder of Ko-ken Tools, Mr. Yamashita. At 18 years old, he came to the United States to follow the American dream, the belief that anyone could be successful with enough hard work and motivation. With modest beginnings, he had to work as a dishwasher at a restaurant and as a servant for a rich American family. He used this as an opportunity to earn some money and brush up on his language and manners, but his real passion was for vehicles; more specifically working on his Ford Model T. When he was working on it, he wouldn’t stop until he was finished, even for dinner.

He got his big break when he was discovered by the famous Henry Ford. For those unfamiliar, Henry Ford was the president and founder of Ford Motor Company. Ford saw the passion and potential in Mr. Yamashita, and hired him as the first foreign employee for Ford Motor Company. Mr. Yamashita continued to work for the company for the remainder of the 18 years he spent in America. During that time, he got married and had 2 sons, his first born named Henry after Mr. Ford. After a fulfilling time spent in America, Mr. Yamashita decided it was time to further his career and learning. 

In 1925, Mr. Yamashita returned to Japan. Once in Japan he was able to find another job in his desired field. In fact, he worked for General Motors Japan for 13 years. His time working at General Motors Japan came to an end when it closed in 1940 due to political pressures from the war. However, the closing of this company did not slow Mr. Yamashita down, it actually motivated him to start his own company.

Mr. Yamashita used the money that he had earned from his hard work over the years and bought an abandoned farming warehouse. The warehouse was modified and renovated for tool manufacturing, and Ko-ken Tool Company was born. Mr. Yamashita’s extensive experience and passion in the tool and vehicle manufacturing industry allowed him to design and eventually manufacture high quality tools.

In 1957, Mr. Yamashita’s dream came into fruition. Ko-ken began exporting sockets and accessories. Mr. Yamashita didn’t want to own just another tool company, he wanted to be the best. In relation, every Ko-ken product was carefully inspected to ensure the highest possible standard of quality control. 




Today, we continue to stay true to our core values of high quality and precision, making Ko-ken tools some of the highest quality tools available.

Ko-ken: High Performance Tools of Convincing Quality.