School navigation

Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership

Lunch with a Leader: Tim Leatherman

Date: 11:30am - 1:00pm PDT October 3, 2017 Location: JR Howard, Room 302

JR Howard, Room 302

Register Here!

Tim Leatherman, Leatherman Industries

Tim problem solved to create the ultimate outdoor enthusiast tool that has fixed airplanes, stopped bullets, cut umbilical cords and opened a few beers. Hear the story of this iconic $100M brand made here in Portland by over 400 employees, and how they problem solve to create their next products.

How do you market the tool that prepares you for the unexpected? Following a nine month tour of Europe and Asia in a $300 Fiat, Tim returned home with his wife inspired to design a knife attached to pliers he could use for any need, from car repairs to bread cutting. He started tinkering in his parents’ basement until he was elevated to his brother-in-law’s garage, but it went downhill from there.  Years of diligence, patience, and numerous rejections finally yielded a scintilla of “luck.” An order for 500 resulted in the founding of the business.  Sales grew from 200 tools in 1983 to one million tools in 1993.  Now sales are over $100M, and the creativity that started this brand continues to inspire new products.

Tim Leatherman is a native Portlander who grew up about five miles from Lewis & Clark. He says, “During high school I often drove past on my Honda 50, but knew I wasn’t smart enough to get in, or stay in.” Oregon State University was fortunate to snag Tim and he earned a mechanical engineering degree. He is an avid tennis player, but being slightly older than Roger Federer, he is finally ready to acknowledge that his chances of winning Wimbledon may be fading.


Sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship

Lunch with a Leader is a series of opportunities to converse with industry leaders in a casual setting. Learn more about career paths and industry trends while you enjoy a FREE lunch!