The product managers and supply managers here at Rio make every effort to visit our vendors as often as they can. Diana Montoya, the product manager of our tools line, and Jeff Vinje, the line’s supply manager, always look forward to their trips out to Wisconsin to visit Tim Sheriff and the folks at Swanstrom Tools.
“Seeing the process of creating our tools makes me appreciate them so much more,” says Jeff. “Meeting and visiting with the people that make it all happen makes these trips truly worthwhile. The team at Swanstrom is a cut above the rest. Their dedication to quality, amazing customer service and unique innovation is to be admired. And they are so welcoming! Being a Minnesota boy, born and raised, I have a special place in my heart for cheese curds. And what was I greeted with upon our arrival? You guessed it, a big ol’ bag of Wisconsin cheddar cheese curds, thanks to Swanstrom’s own June DeGraef.”
Swanstrom’s 18,000-square-foot facility in Superior, Wisconsin, makes tools for a wide range of industries. But a handful of employees are devoted solely to the crafting of the jewelry tools Swanstrom makes exclusively for Rio. The team is led by jack-of-all-jewelry-trades Tim Sheriff, who Diana and Jeff affectionately refer to as the mad scientist because he is constantly devising new tools and processes that make jewelers’ lives easier.
Swanstrom’s continued commitment to investing in the latest technology and its unyielding dedication to quality make it one of our favorite in-house lines. The entire process of making the tools, from forging to honing (Valtitan hand files are the favorite tools of the honers) and polishing to final sharpening is done in house.
So what can you expect the company to come up with next? Jeff and Diana are thrilled about the new products they saw in the works during their visit. And what might those be, you ask? You’ll have to wait and see!
Just can’t wait? Maybe you can try to pry some of the details out of Tim at our annual Winter Workshop here at Rio. He will be teaching a class on January 27 and 28 that focuses on using Swanstrom’s line of specialty pliers. Make sure you sign up soon—spaces are selling out fast!