The tools to build an economic foundation and hundreds of new jobs in eastern Johnson County arrived Monday.

County commissioners approved a 10-year, 75 percent tax abatement for Klein Tool to build a manufacturing plant and warehouse in the Mansfield portion of Johnson County.

“We've been working on this for more than two years,” Johnson County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Diana Miller told commissioners as she introduced Tom and Michael Klein, the fifth and sixth generations of the family-owned business.

“Thank you for welcoming us into Johnson County,” company president Tom Klein said. “We are a very conservative family and company. We did a nationwide search and found that Texas has been rated No. 1 for business the last eight years. And the DFW area is tops in the state.”

Klein Tool is the largest hand tool manufacturing company in the nation, making more than 3,000 tools and accessories used by professional tradesmen around the world, Miller said.

“Klein Tools are some of the best tools you can buy,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Jerry Stringer said. “I can attest to that by the blisters on my hands from all the work I did last weekend.”

Headquartered in Lincolnshire, Ill., the 150-plus year-old firm is family owned and operated. 

“We knew Texas was where we wanted to be, it was finding the right village where the people stood by their business promise,” said Tom Klein, a 1984 graduate of Texas Christian University whose son, David, graduated from TCU in 2010 and whose daughter is currently a junior there.

“We did the Texas Two Step,” Klein said. “We relocated a plant to Mansfield to see how receptive the residents were and how we would be received by county and state governments.”

The company has invested $30 million in machinery and equipment in that plant on Heritage Parkway in Mansfield, which employes 150 people, Klein said.

“We would like to close on 100 acres in Johnson County within the next 30 days,” Klein said. “The architect and engineers have already been hired so the we can start building.”

Plans include a 150,000-square-foot warehouse an additional 150,000-square-feet of manufacturing followed by another 250,000 square-foot manufacturing plant, Klein said.

When completed in about five years, the total project value will be $70 million, Klein said. 

“When you talk about 262 employees, that is an easy hurdle for us,” Klein said. “We plan to have a lot more than that, maybe 500.”

Miller praised Mansfield Economic Development Director Scott Welmaker for his assistance over the last two years in helping bring Klein Tool to Johnson County.

“We understood Klein was looking at two other counties and we are so pleased that this fine, family-owned manufacturer chose Johnson County,” she said.

Stringer made a motion to approve the tax abatement for Klein Tool. It was seconded by Precinct 1 Commissioner Rick Bailey and supported unanimously.

“Welcome to Johnson County,” Stringer said. “Just one thing about your tools; they tend to walk off.”

“That makes them happy,” Miller said.

“We're happy to be here,” Klein said. “We love Texas.”