Our History

Peterson Tool Company was founded in 1958 by John L. Peterson, Sr. It’s first home, with the help of a $500 loan, was an old chicken barn in a town outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Mr. Peterson partnered with two other businessmen and started Murfreesboro Machine & Tool Company. He specialized in grinding HSS step drills and reamers prior to branching out into form tools for the screw machine industry. He sold tools during the day and ground them at night.

In 1959 Mr. Peterson and his partner bought out their third partner and Southern Tool & Cutter Grinding Company were born. The company moved into a new home on Shirley Street in Nashville.

During the escalation of the Vietnam War in 1964, the inserted form tool (later branded Thriftedge®) was born. A customer approached Mr. Peterson with a problem common to many at the time – with an 18-month lead time for new machines he needed more production out of his current machines. Production of the military ordnance was extremely high and continuing to climb. Mr. Peterson proposed the idea of replaceable cutting edges for dovetail form tools and Thriftedge® took off. Thriftedge® has evolved considerably since that day as has the Peterson Tool Company. Southern outgrew their facility on Shirley Street and moved to Spence Lane in Nashville. In 1967 Southern Tool was sold to a group of investors and the company was renamed Dolphin Tool Company. Four years later, in 1971, the parent company of Dolphin Tool (Whale Inc.) declared bankruptcy. Mr. Peterson was able to continue the business which was renamed at that time to Peterson Tool Company. The company then moved to a new location on Omohundro Drive in Nashville.

In 1979, Mr. John L. Peterson, Sr. died of cancer at the age of 45. His widow, Nancy Sanders Peterson, assumed the leadership of the company, only telling customers about Mr. Peterson’s untimely death six months later – after she demonstrated her ability to successfully run the company in her husband’s absence. She delivered this message personally to most of her major customers – the manufacturing giants of US industry. She wanted them to understand that the company was greater than just one person and she won their respect in the process.

In 1980, Peterson displayed their products at the IMTS (International Manufacturing Tool Show) and Thriftedge® began to catch on. As Peterson Tool Company continued to grow, their product lines expanded beyond the basic Thriftedge®. Peterson developed Thriftchange®, a quick change tooling system. Thriftchange® revolutionized the way inserted form tools could be utilized. Instead of having dedicated components: holders, anvils, clamps and inserts for each part, the components were engineered to be used interchangeably by many parts within a family. Not only did Thriftchange® reduce overall tooling cost but when changing these components, adjustment of the cross slide was not needed. The new components compensated for any diameter changes or location changes so tool change time was reduced dramatically. A major tool change went from 8-10 hours to 2-3 hours. The multi-spindle machine suddenly became flexible.

It was not long until the company outgrew the factory on Omohundro Drive and construction began on a 25,000 sq. ft. facility on Fessler’s Lane in Nashville. They were convinced that this would be all the factory they would ever need since it was more than four times the size of their original building.

New product lines were developed soon after moving into their new facility. Multi-spindle machines were being expected to hold tighter tolerances and produce more complicated and complex parts. These new expectations of the machines demanded more robust tools capable of handling the stringent precision. Peterson Tool Company answered with Thriftform®, an adjustable quick-change form fixture and Thriftshave®, an adjustable shave fixture. Thriftshave® would go on to be one of our most popular product lines as it married the concept of inserts with sturdy shaving requirements. Thriftshave® can hold 8 microns on moderately maintained equipment.

Despite the much larger building, within five years of moving into the new factory, they were out of space. As luck would have it, a 15,000 square foot building became available immediately adjacent to the Fessler’s Lane factory.

The next phase of Peterson Tool’s history begins with a wedding. Nancy S. Peterson married retired music executive, Billy Ray Hearn in January of 2009. At that time, Nancy Peterson Hearn, affectionately known as Mama to the company’s employees, stepped away from the daily operations. When John Peterson, Jr. resigned in 2011, Nancy briefly returned as President and CEO.  She appointed Diane Peterson Edwards to President and CEO in 2012. She continues to be a vital member of the firm’s management team, serving as Chairman of the Board of Peterson Tool Company.

Since assuming the role of President and CEO of Peterson Tool Company, Diane has displayed great leadership in organizing the members of the management team using “The Rockefeller Habits”. She was chosen to be a part of the prestigious Committee 200 protégé program in 2014.  With her newfound knowledge and an enthusiastic management team, Diane and Peterson Tool Co. has elevated its investment in production and manufacturing process in the last 10 years.  Diane graduated in the 2016 Committee 200 Protégé class and had continued the leadership lessons she learned during the course and gained many long-term friends.  In the last 10 years, PTC has made significant investment in the company and added multiple new machines.  We have added a new Mori Seike CNC Lathe, 4 new Haas Machining Centers, 1 new Haas CNC Lathe, 1 new Custom Polishing Machine, 6 new Wire EDM Machines, 1 new Vertical EDM Machine, 7 new Inspection Machines, 4 new Surface Grinders, 1 new CNC Surface Grinder and reconditioned 12 of our Elox grinders to maintain our unique combined EDM and EDG capabilities.

At Peterson Tool we have instituted a career path matrix and educational program to mentor and instruct new employees willing and able to learn new skills.  If you aspire to join a world class manufacturing facility and want to learn new skills, click here to obtain more information.

Peterson Tool Company celebrated its 60thanniversary this past year in October with an all company picnic attended by friends and family of the company.

Unfortunately, in 2017, Nancy and the Peterson Family lost Billy Ray Hearn her love and support for the last 8 years.  Nancy is doing well and maintains her connections to Peterson Tool Co as Chairman of the Board.

The company continues to look for ways to improve upon their product lines and look for new and innovative ways to make their customers more efficient in today’s manufacturing environment. From its humble beginnings in an old chicken farm, Peterson Tool has grown to a world-class organization and everyone at the company strives to exceed customer expectations in quality and performance.

“Changing to Peterson inserts and the ThriftForm attachments has dramatically improved our part finish and tolerance.”

Industry - Automotive Machine - Single Spindle

“Switching to the Peterson ThriftChange® Tooling Package reduced our change-over time from 8 hours to 2 hours .”

Industry - Manufacturing Machine - Acme

“The quick change system has reduced tool changes from 20 minutes to 5 minutes. So with an improvement in part finish, tolerance, tool life and machine efficiencies, this has been a great investment for us.”

Industry - Automotive Machine - Single Spindle

“We are very happy with Peterson Tool’s  ThriftShave attachment and tooling. The shave has allowed us to run 3 consecutive 8 hour shifts with no adjustments.”

Industry - Industrial Machine - Davenport

“The best way to gain machine capacity is by reducing your set up times. The Peterson Thirftform package has allowed us to gain over 100 hours of valuable machine capacity on one of our screw machines…”

Industry - Fittings Machine - #51 New Britain

“For tool design and technical support I recommend Peterson for the most complex/precision of operations.”

Industry - Manufacturing Machine - Wickman Screw Machine

“Peterson Tool created a custom tool that allowed us to produce twice the amount of products using our existing equipment. This kept us from spending over $200,000 on new equipment.”

Industry - Aerospace

“The ThriftShave holds an incredible .0003” tolerance on my part diameters. That’s right… .0003” on a Davenport. This thing is awesome!”

Industry - Industrial Machine - Davenport

“…Peterson helped us reduce a 6.5 hour set up down to 45 minutes and reduce a 2.5 hour set up to 15 minutes. This Stuff Works!!!”

Industry - Fittings Machine - #51 New Britain

“The Peterson ThriftShave® resulted in a 95% reduction in scrap due to diameter and taper variation and an annualized cost reduction of 23% on the thread tooling. “

Industry - Manufacturing Machine - Acme

We Make Custom Tools... for Any Machine... Every Day.