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Forney Industries: History

1932: James Donovan Forney goes into business for himself selling "The Forney Instant Heat Soldering Iron," door to door across the heartland.  

1936: Forney invents and produces the first successful 110-volt/125 amp and 110-volt/150 amp welders intended for use outside the industrial setting.

1937: The Forney nationwide sales staff grows and product literature boasts “There’s a Forney product in every town across the USA.”

1945: Rural Electric Associations (REA) begins delivery of 230 volt service to farms and ranches. The sales staff procures permission from the REA to climb utility poles to connect welders for demonstrations, and Forney welders add metal repair and tool hardening to farmers’ capabilities.

1949: Forney moves into present offices on LaPorte Avenue in Fort Collins, CO. Sales staff continues to grow and the 500 employees in house are turning out up to 500 welders a week.

1950’s: The Forney product line grows to include products such as auto generators, battery chargers, more electric welders and welding supplies. A Forney central residential vacuum system and portable vacuum cleaner was soon introduced, as was the “Fornaire,” an easy-to-fly 2-seat airplane designed for the consumer market.

1961: The Forney Transportation Museum is incorporated as a non-profit charitable organization, to house the astounding assembly of transportation devices accumulated by J.D. over the years. 

1963: Forney switches its focus from welders to metalworking supplies. The product line jumps to 1,400 products from 150 outside suppliers. Forney opens a warehouse in Atlanta.

1986: Sadly, J.D. Forney passes away after 54 years in the business he created.

1990-2000: Forney continues to grow as a leading manufacturer and distributor of metalworking and welding products, expanding from $20M in sales at the beginning of the decade to $30M by the end. Additional warehousing is opened in Horseheads, NY.

2011: Forney Industries purchases a new Warehouse & Distribution Facility, located in Fort Collins, Colorado, adding an additional 60,000 square feet of space, totaling 185,000 square feet.

Today: Forney Industries is a nationwide leader in distribution of metal working and welding products, including:

  • Abrasives and cutting wheels
  • Wire wheels and brushes
  • Air fittings
  • Hoses and pneumatic tools
  • Hydraulic fittings
  • Workshop tools and accessories
  • Steel, aluminum and chain
  • Safety equipment
  • Industrial quality cutting tools


The company employs close to 300 personnel across the United States, with almost a third being Forney-employed sales representatives and regional managers. Forney's sales force services over 15,000 hardware, automotive, farm & ranch and do-it-yourself dealers and warehouse accounts across the United States, providing approximately 5,000 products from 132 suppliers.