Meet the New Bridge City Team in California…

Drivel Starved Nation!

We are down to the last two weeks (TRUE) of our 35 year run in Portland. It is a bit crazy here at the moment, we are  packing and planning our last blow-out sale.  Most of the really good stuff is now on eBay.

If all goes well, the Montclair, CA office of the new Bridge City Tool Works will open on August 6th.  Fingers crossed!  (TRIVIA QUESTION: What favorite TOOL POTENTATE claims August 6th as his birth date?)

Also, all of you will receive an invitation to the official Bridge City Tool Works Open House in October (TRUE). As soon as I know the date, I will let the DSN know first.  Maybe it will be time to bring the family/grandkids to Disneyland as well? And yes, I am attending and will be wearing ballistic apparel.(LIE).  I do know one thing (TRUE), if you are going to fly in, use the Ontario airport (TRUE). It is about 10 miles from the new BCTW showroom and offices.

DSN, it is an honor to introduce you to the new Team BCTW so let’s start with…

Mark Strahler
strahler 2

Mark is the Harvey/BCTW head honcho here in the good ole’ USA.  He hires, he fires, and occasionally he is funny–unlike always hilarious me. He also owns a George Hamilton Tanning Salon franchise. (LIE)

I have known Mark since meeting him every year at the National Hardware Show in the Delta Machinery booth beginning in 1984 (TRUE). The Delta booth was always across from the Makita booth which featured the Makita calendar girls. Interestingly, the first time I made eye contact with Mark was just a couple of years ago in China…  Hey!  I was young and stoopid back then. Now I am just plain dumb. (TRUE)

Mark was one of the founding members of Steel City Tool Works in 2005 and is a seasoned (same as old)  organizational veteran. I am older than he is (experienced more seasons). Between the two of us we have the knowledge of one! Did I just write that?

On a side note, Mark is a fitness freak and is a Crossfit trainer when he is not hiring or firing or telling awful jokes. He resides in Augusta GA and spends half of his year on the road. He can be reached at if you want to wish him some good luck!

Lastly, here is Mark’s letter to the DSN.


Karen just completed her training in Portland which included mastering the Chopstick Master. This look of pure joy is just like all the other photos we have captured from first time makers. When she is not making chopsticks she is mean looking as you can likely tell… (REALLY BIG LIE!)

Karen is the manager for the new Montclair office and will be responsible for marketing BCTW products in America. She has some interesting ideas and would love to hear from you only if you have good ideas, or feel the need to apologize for my insult above….

Karen Brown

Joleen is also a new Chopstick Master veteran and spent last week under the intense tutelage of Consuelo. And her voice (she knows over 311 different sub-saharan bird whistles by heart. This is, of course, a big LIE) is likely the first voice you will hear when you call Bridge City next month. The hardest job at BCTW is dealing with the demands of our demanding Drivel Starved Nation. (I was trying to think of an alliteration in that last sentence but quit failed… as you can tell.).

Joking aside, Joleen has a hard job and if you want to lighten her load, buy tools from her. Or better yet, thank her for personally taking your order.


Hung Nguyen is pronounced “Larry Cosgrove” (LIE)

Hung is an American born and raised child of a Vietnamese navy veteran who escaped from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon. (TRUE). His job centers around quality control, order fulfillment and technical support. He is a bright guy and on weekends he goes to the beach and teaches English to surfers. (WHAT DO YOU THINK?). He is also a Gyro Air guru so if you are thinking about this incredible dust collector, he can more than likely pull money out of your pocket. (I HAVE NO CLUE).

Try “Hung Win”.

If you are looking for answers for all BCTW products made in Nanjing, Hung is the man. After August 6th he can be reached here:

BTW, comments regarding Larry Cosgrove’s email address will not be looked upon favorably. (TRUE). You people know who your are, I know who you are… so zip it!

The BIG GORILLA in the room is how will the new BCTW team deal with tools they were not responsible for making? In other words, what if you need a tool repaired that was made 22 years ago? They are not going to deal with it. But there is a solution!


Rutager is currently in Portland from his home in Minnesota to say goodbye to the old Bridge City Tool Works Consuelo.

There is nobody on the planet more disgruntled prepared to deal with Bridge City products than Rutager. He has taken my Tool Making class two times (All he needed to do was show up and I would have given him a passing grade.), has taken several Jointmaker Pro classes and has take my Creative Thinking Workshop at least once. He owns multiple Jointmaker Pro’s (he sets them on a shop made turret so he can produce sawn parts in quantity without breaking down a setup). And he actually likes cleaning old BCTW tools. (TRUE).

Rutager is in the process of setting up an LLC and a website and when complete, contact information will be posted on the BCTW website. He is not officially associated with BCTW but the service he is providing (it will not be free) is greatly appreciated.

As I am writing, Rutager is in our prototype shop packing up about 30 grand worth of replacement parts, all free, so I don’t have lingering doubts about abandoning the DSN. (TRUE).

So, there you have it. I hope you can sense, through this Totally Awesome and Worthless Blog, that my spirit of making business fun has infected this team.

Quality is Indeed Contagious.

-Your Favorite, But Not Yet Former, Tool Potentate


5 comments on this post:

  1. Wow, John! What a team! Congratulations. Interesting that it takes so many people to replace you (and I noticed that none of them designs tools). I’m looking forward to meeting the new team. And this whole concept of being able to buy BCTW tools WHEN I WANT TO, and potentially IN MY HOME TOWN is … well … just weird. It somehow seems wrong not to be punished with a several-year wait after ordering a tool before receiving it. It’ll be all wussy “get-it-in-two-business-days” service. What’s a tool worth if you don’t have to suffer for it?!?

    But I’m willing to give it a shot. And it’ll still be faster than ebay.

    And now I understand why Rutager has been stealing trunkloads of spare parts from BCTW. Good call. Surely nobody has more JMPs, squares, levels or plumb bobs than Rutager. I’ll have to go and dig up my crustiest, most abused BCTW tool, and send it in for refurbishing. Heh heh.

    Congratulations again. Quite the birthday present for you. I’m looking forward to your October open house, and hope that it lands on some days when I can actually attend. It will be wonderful to meet the new team – congratulations on the passing of the torch. Thank you for all that you have done to enrich our lives.

    – Peter

  2. Thanks Peter!

    Everybody, and I mean everybody, are working their asses off to make quality stuff. THANK YOU for your past and hopefully future patronage. I like to think that good ideas don’t have boundaries…



  3. Welcome, new people. Best of luck!

    To mention some issues that will not be in John’s control anymore, I wonder what the “new” BCTW will be like in the future, going out five or ten years. It can’t be a catalog of tools frozen on the date John is put out to pasture. Will it continue to adapt to and adopt new materials, processes, designs, etc.? Will it be a me-too manufacturer of widgets? Does its ultimate future lie outside the hobbyist woodworker industry? Is Quality *actually* contagious? Is it a chronic condition for the new owner?

    I think about old Pennsylvania manufacturers of various types (Disston, North Bros., Pfaltzgraff, Hershey, Yuengling, etc.), and their lifespan as businesses and their quality of product. It’s a mixed bag, but not hopeless.

    Back to drivel-starving. :-)


  4. Congrats to all of you! Best of luck in your futures.

    Rutager I am especially happy for you. You have a passion for woodworking and Bridge City Tools like nobody
    else. I cannot think of a better person to fill that role. John you are a remarkable person to help Rutager get going as well.

Leave a Reply