Ozarks Life: Almost a century of House Handle handling Ozarks orders

Three generations have provided American-made handles to the Ozarks and national stores.
Published: Jun. 30, 2023 at 7:51 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CASSVILLE, Mo. (KY3) - On the outskirts of Cassville, you’ll find a shop that is buzzing.

It’s home to the House Handle Company.

“Probably don’t recognize how special it is to have a business that’s lasted this long,” Chris House said.

Chris is a third-generation handle man. His grandpa, William, started peddling handles in the area in 1929.

“He’d be gone for two or three weeks at a time in his little van,” Chris said.

“When I was old,” Kenny House said, “I say eight or nine years old, I went with him.”

Kenny, the second-generation House handler, peddled 26 types of handles in the 1940s.

“Hammer handles I got 25 cents for,” Kenny said.

Today, the House Handle Company went from selling someone else’s handles to scraping hickory, ash, and oak into handles for axes, shovels, rakes, and more.

“There are 500 different types of handles we make,” Chris said.

“I didn’t expect it,” Kenny said about the longevity of the company. “I was kind of thinking, ‘How can I get on the end of this thing and not have to be on the road?’ And that’s the reason I didn’t want to be on the road.”

Back in the 1960s, Kenny came across a pair of machines sitting in a field in Arkansas.

“They were out in a blackberry patch,” Kenny said. “And then we had to cut the blackberry briars to get to them. Of course, they were all rusted up and everything.”

The machines were more than 100 years old at the time. They were patented in 1865; that’s during the Civil War. Slowly Kenny and his dad would add more and more machines to the company that is still used today.

“There are no parts out there for these,” Chris said. “We have some parts laying around on some older machines that we can rob from.”

House Handle Company fills orders every day from major companies that have stores from New York to California. And Kenny, who’s in his mid-80s, still carves out some time every morning at 5 o’clock to help out.

“I fill the internet orders,” Kenny said. “Every morning when I come in, I get it. Somebody else bags them. And we have quite a few of those every day.”

As far as a majority of the day-to-day operations, Chris handles that.

“It’s hard to compete, but we’ve been able to stay right in there,” Chris said. “And people will pay for the U.S. I mean, people like seeing the USA on our stickers.”

“That’s the future; he takes care of it,” Kenny said. “And I wouldn’t want anybody else,” Kenny said.

House Handle Company has 18 employees and gets its wood from local mills within a few hundred miles. And they’re still adding on, completing a new building with some new machines coming in as well.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com