Chester "Chet" Coon

Chet Coon began his career as a lineman, but went on to revolutionize the industry with his invention of the hot stick.  Before he fashioned and tested early version of the hot stick, no one had ever replaced insulators and crossarms or repaired lines while the wires were still carrying current.  The fateful day was February 11, 1924, when Chet and his pole-mate used a forked stick of Chet’s own making to secure the line in order to replace a burned crossarm in the middle of a drizzling rain.  The stick worked so well that Chet worked with a blacksmith to fashion an insulated pole with a mechanical hand.  Only six months later, Chet had developed about 35 different tools for overhead line work.  At first he was condemned by his fellow linemen, but his employer, San Joaquin Light & Power Co., accepted the tools, outfitted fourteen divisions, and sent him out to train.  Chet spent the next two years selling the idea to his fellow linemen.  In 1926 Chet quit and moved to Oakland, CA where he founded a machine shop to manufacture his tools.  Safety Live Line Tool Company was born.  It was a hard road, with lean times, but his first order came in 1927 and more followed. Chet became his company’s first instructor, traveling the country to train linemen to use the tools he created.  In 1955, when Chet sold his company and retired after twenty-eight years, he had eleven full-time employees and had developed a catalog of more than 400 tools.