WEATHER GUARD®, a WernerCo brand, is an industry leader in truck and van equipment, including truck boxes, drawer units, shelving, cabinets, and racks for trucks, vans and utility vehicles. WEATHER GUARD® organizes trucks and vans for greater productivity and provides tools and valuables superior protection against break-ins and weather.
In the fall of 1960, Howard Knaack began building jobsite storage tool boxes in a small, one-room shop in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Mr. Knaack's main outlet for these boxes was a tool supply distributor owned by his partners named Brock Tool Company. In 1962, Mr. Knaack began setting up a nationwide distribution network of contractor supply houses. In 1968, Knaack LLC. moved to its current location at 420 E. Terra Cotta Ave., in Crystal Lake, Illinois, with a new 16,000 sq. ft. facility.
In the late 1960s, Mr. Knaack was looking to expand his product offerings to the contractor trade and recognized the need for a high-quality truck tool box. In 1968, Knaack LLC. purchased the rights to build WEATHER GUARD® Truck Equipment, a truck tool box line consisting of approximately 10 different models, from a sheet metal contractor in St. Louis, Missouri. He continued to build these boxes in St. Louis until 1971, when Knaack LLC. doubled its manufacturing capacity. The new addition included the first wash system to clean the steel and a bake oven to bake on enamel paint required on the WEATHER GUARD® Boxes. In 1973, the entire line of WEATHER GUARD® Tool Boxes was redesigned with features needed by the contractor markets that they served. Many of these innovations soon became the standard in the industry and were eventually copied by other truck tool box manufacturers.
Always looking for new products, Hi-Side Boxes, UnderBed Boxes and van equipment items were introduced in the mid-70s. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, the company expanded product offerings in the truck and van storage equipment lines. In 1981, a powder coating system was added to its facility for WEATHER GUARD® Product Lines, making the company one of the first in its industry to offer the benefits of a TGIC Polyester Powder Coating. Also in the early '80s, gas pistons were added to WEATHER GUARD® Truck Boxes, making them easier to open and close, therefore being safer to use than previous versions or competitors' models.
In the early 1980s, major additions were made to the WEATHER GUARD® Truck and Van Storage Equipment lines. In truck equipment, saddle boxes, super lo-side boxes, and super side boxes were added to the truck equipment line along with an expanded line of underbed boxes and truck ladder racks. In van equipment, the line was expanded to include knockdown shelving, small and medium size parts bins, expanded ladder rack offerings and also an expanded bulkhead offering. This product expansion enabled the company to expand its base of users to include municipalities, utilities, fleets, etc.
The business grew dramatically through the 1980s along with its distribution base and end users. The product offerings also grew significantly with the introduction of aluminum saddle boxes and the market's switch to aluminum.
In the early 1990s, WEATHER GUARD® Truck Boxes were again redesigned to increase security, safety and durability for its end users. It incorporated many items that its users are accustomed to with the automotive industry. High-quality automotive-style locks and latches were added along with other major changes. This again set WEATHER GUARD® Truck Equipment apart from its competition.
In 2012 Werner Co. announced that it had acquired 100% of the ownership of Knaack LLC. The acquisition brought the industry leading KNAACK® and WEATHER GUARD® brands, which created a product portfolio that can collectively leverage the broader company networks in manufacturing, distribution, sales and marketing.
In the fall of 1960, Howard Knaack began building steel KNAACK® jobsite storage tool boxes in a small, one-room shop in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Mr. Knaack's main outlet for these boxes was a tool supply distributor owned by his partners named Brock Tool Company.
Knaack LLC was the first to offer national distribution of jobsite storage boxes in Chicago, Detroit, Hammond, Cleveland, Denver and Washington D.C. By 1968 Mr. Knaack moved the company to a 16,000 sq. ft. building also located in Crystal Lake, Illinois.
Throughout the 1960’s, Howard was looking to expand his product offerings to the contractor trade and recognized the need for a high-quality, truck tool box. In 1968, Knaack LLC purchased the rights to build WEATHER GUARD® Truck Equipment, a truck tool box line consisting of approximately 10 different models, from a sheet metal contractor in St. Louis, Missouri.
In 1981, the plant added a powder-coat system for WEATHER GUARD® Truck Equipment and became one of the first in its industry to offer the benefits of ARMOR-TUF® Powder Coat Paint. Also in the early 1980s, gas pistons were added to WEATHER GUARD® Truck Equipment, making them easier to open/close and safer to use than previous versions or competitors' models. WEATHER GUARD® also introduced truck cab protectors and ladder racks, as well as organizational storage solutions, such as PACK RAT® Drawer Units.
In 1984, WEATHER GUARD® further expanded into Van Storage Equipment, offering a complete line of bulkheads, shelving, drawer units, van ladder racks and the BED RAT® Sliding Platform.
To drive innovation and continue to lead the market, Knaack LLC has made significant investments in automation machinery and equipment, and increased capability of our human resources, improving plant safety, and making the plant more environmentally friendly. Knaack LLC strives to achieve lean manufacturing standards by utilizing such processes as Six Sigma, Kaizen Champions and Lean Kaizen Blitzes. Recently Knaack LLC made significant improvements in manufacturing automation by investing in upgraded fabrication machinery and a completely renovated paint line. These new machines and systems are capable of making accurate, quality parts in both long and short production runs, with the ability to switch between designs being manufactured at the push of a button, allowing Knaack LLC to be extremely flexible in our manufacturing processes. Our current production line is truly state-of-the-art to produce the finest jobsite and tool storage equipment available.
How does Knaack LLC support the environment? Knaack LLC switched 425 tons of paper printing to Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Certified paper, recycled over 850 tons of metal scrap, increased recycled content in corrugated packaging to 35%, reduced natural gas consumption 8%, reduced electricity consumption 15% by using light sensors and switching to high-efficiency florescent bulbs, improved the quality of discharge water by reducing chloride levels 30% and total dissolved solids 20%, and reduced air emissions 50% by switching to powder-coat paint process.
Over the past 50 years, Knaack LLC’s facility has grown from its modest start in a 2,000 sq. ft. shop to its first 16,000 foot facility at 420 E. Terra Cotta Ave., and now to its current 400,000 + sq. ft. plant. Knaack LLC has achieved strong growth and industry leadership, and has not stopped introducing new products, like the new WEATHER GUARD® Hi-Side Truck Boxes, the new WEATHER GUARD® Low-Profile Steel Boxes, the new WEATHER GUARD® Van Solutions for the Nissan NV and Ford Transit Connect.
The acquisition of Knaack LLC by Werner Co. and the integration of the KNAACK® and WEATHER GUARD® brands aligns with the commitment to customer safety, product durability, productivity, and is a natural fit with the company’s mission to serve the professional end user.
As Werner Co. looks to the future, we envision continuous improvement in all areas of the business, as well as an aggressive schedule of new product introductions that are driven by end-user research to help contractors keep their tools safe, protect them from the weather and keep equipment organized for optimal productivity on the job.