Mk II Workmate
‘Workmate’ 325 Mk II combined vice and workbench, c.1971-72, built by Black & Decker, UK. This was the first of the Workmates to make use of aluminium castings, and also a double-height arrangement so that it could be used in both sawhorse and workbench. In many respects it is regarded as the best and most significant Workmate design.
Ron Hickman, while manufacturing rthe Mk1 Workmate, had been developing a MkII more tuned to genuine mass production. More parts were die cast and solid beech was replaced by plywood.
From his previous experiences in selling the unit he found people were unconvinced of the sawhorse height unit. He developed the dual height facility to give both sawhorse and workbench heights.
The postal strike in 1971 virtually halted the cash flow of Mate Tools, since most units were sold by mail order. Soon after, enquiries came from Black & Decker, Qualcast and Rawlplug for licensing agreements. Ron Hickman knew that to exploit the international market to the full, a truly multi-national company was needed, so a licence was agreed with Black & Decker for the manufacturers of the MkII Workmate.
Within a year, 12000 units a month were being sold. Over the next few years a growth rate of 100 per cent compound per annum was achieved. Television commercials played a vital part in marketing. Demand outstripped supply so that the planned rolling launch across Europe had to be continually postponed.