It’s common knowledge that we’re not the biggest company on the block. In fact, it’s something we embrace here at J.L. Matthews. Being a family-owned business is something we take a lot of pride in. It’s at the forefront of everything we do here on a day-to-day basis. Remembering where we’ve come from keeps us grounded and allows us to stay true to the core values that the Matthews family has built and upheld for the past 72 years.
The J.L. Matthews Company was founded in 1946 by Joe Matthews, a Navy man from Grove City, Pennsylvania. Joe’s concept for starting his own company came to him while serving as a Seabee in the United States Naval Construction Force from 1932-1936. When he returned home from the service, Joe took a job with the W. M. Bashlin Company (now Bashlin Industries), opening a new office in Fort Worth, Texas.
During his nearly 10 year tenure at Bashlin, Joe would manage the production of and help invent many products still used in the commercial climbing industry today. The most important of these advancements was the Shifting or Floating D-Ring Lineman's Belt.
In 1946, Joe Matthews left his position at Bashlin to begin developing his own innovative lineman gear. In the humble single-car garage behind his house, Joe set to bringing his dream to fruition, manufacturing his own lineman belts, holsters, pole straps, and accessories by hand. His extensive knowledge and attention to detail didn’t go unnoticed; the small business grew rapidly.
In 1962, Joe’s son, Gary Matthews, joined the family business. Shortly thereafter, J.L. Matthews Company moved their store to Fort Worth’s south side, where the store still stands today. In the more than 20 years that would follow under Gary’s leadership, J.L. Matthews quickly expanded their expertise, becoming an industry leader in not only lineman climbing gear, but tools and safety equipment as well. The company would become more than just a store to buy the products needed for the job. It became a hub for the lineman community where people could come for knowledge, connect with others in the industry, and get their gear repaired and maintained by a team that knows their product.
Danny Matthews, Joe’s grandson and current President of J.L. Matthews Company, joined the company in the 1980s. Today, he runs the company alongside his wife, Jennifer. Together, the duo manages J.L. Matthews Company as the perfect team. Danny leads the product and sales teams and manages relationships with the now hundreds of brands carried by the company. He travels around the country speaking to vendors and customers, upholding his grandfather’s tradition of friendly, honest service. Jennifer manages the company's day-to-day operations in the office, overseeing HR, marketing, the website, accounting, and the retail team, making sure all customers get the gear they need.
Their tireless work has made J.L. Matthews Company a household name and leader across multiple industries. Linemen, utility workers, arborists, telecommunications workers, structural iron, and steel workers all turn to J.L. Matthews to provide them with the trusted safety equipment and tools they need to get the job done.
Joe’s attention to detail and tradition of trusted service is destined to continue for years to come. McKendree Bentzel, the 4th generation of the Matthews family, serves as the J.L. Matthews brand ambassador. He travels across the country, engaging with apprentices and trade school students to ensure J.L. Matthews continues to adapt to the ever-changing needs of today’s climbing trades. J.L. Matthews knows that men and women in the trades rely on their products to be able to provide for their families. Relationships are the most important part of the business at J.L. Matthews and it shows. Each year, the J.L. Matthews calendar is filled with invitations to trade school graduations.
Even though the scope and industries served by J.L. Matthews Company have continued to expand over the company’s storied 72 years, the company still abides by the same core values instilled by its founder.
Service and expertise go far beyond the walls of the family store. It’s in the family blood. Joe Matthews served as the National Commander of the American Legion from 1972 - 1973 until he was selected by President Nixon to chair the National Cemetery System Advisory Committee. He would hold that post more than 20 years. Reverence for those who’ve served the greater good, military or otherwise, is crucial to the J.L. Matthews identity. Today, J.L. Matthews is a massive supporter of many service organizations, including the NSUJL, which provides help to the families of linemen who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Opening of Frost Bank. Community event with 180 multi-generational
family companies from Fort Worth.
Service, Honesty, and Quality remain the pillars we operate by each and every day. J.L. Matthews Company is proud to be a member of not just the Fort Worth community, but those of the linemen, arborists, ironworkers, and their families all across the country.
Stop by, give us a call, or shoot us an email, and we’ll do everything we can to get you the gear you need.
As always, stay safe out there.
The J.L. Matthews Family