It's not everyday that you find a product with a Made in U.S.A. sticker.
But at Chapman Manufacturing in Durham the commitment to American made continues today as if it were 1936, the year that "Old Man Chapman" started the tool making business inside his garage on Meeting House Hill Road, the story goes.
Today, Chapman is located at the corner of Route 17 and Saw Mill Road and owned by Tracy and Jason Camassar, a Durham couple who share a devotion not only to the country but to their community.
"We want to be a good community citizen so we try to hire local and buy local," says Tracy, who managed the business under Chapman's second owner, William "Bill" LeVee, before taking it over last January.
Inside the often unnoticed, nondescript company building, Tracy and 13 Chapman employees tinker and toil alongside machines that turn sheets and rods of raw steel into the company's durable, precision tools.
"We have 53 different kinds of bits and we have lots of different kits. We try to pay attention to what the market is looking for," Tracy says.
Chapman's tools are highly sought-after by professionals and hobbyists alike, she explains, from computer engineers in Silicon Valley to old fashioned gunsmiths to mountain bikers.
"It's high quality. Perfect for really tight places," says Tracy, while showing off Chapman's patented midget ratchet, which boasts a torque four times that of a normal screwdriver.
The company could probably save a buck importing from a place like China. Instead, the products that Chapman doesn't make — like it's recognizable yellow tool-kit box or the handle for its screwdriver — are manufactured in places like Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
"You get what you pay for," Jason says. "There is a certain segment of the population that's willing to pay the extra money for good quality stuff."
Chapman's commitment to American made even caught the eye of avowed gear head Jay Leno, who invited Tracy to California to introduce the company on his website jaylenosgarage.com.
"Jay was great," she says.
It just so happens that Jason, an accountant by trade and the company's bookkeeper, and several other Chapman employees share Leno's enthusiasm for cars. Together, they recently began restoring a 1959 Chevy truck.
"It's kind of like a company project. It's going to be bright yellow, with the white top and gold lettering on the doors. We'll be able to drive it around town," says Tracy.
For anyone interested in keeping up with the project, you can get updates on Chapman's Facebook page.
"We're having fun with this."