The capacity for pioneering advances has been a feature of the Milwaukee brand from its opening years. It began with A.H. Petersen, a young manufacturer of tools and dies. At the end of the First World War, Model T car magnate Henry Ford, a regular customer, came to Petersen with a challenge: to produce a small, portable light 1/4-inch capacity power drill. The challenge was met in the form of the Hole-Shooter, the industry’s first, lightweight, one-handed drill. Ford enthusiastically approved of the new Hole-Shooter. Previous models of two-handed drills were heavy and cumbersome tools that only the strongest mechanics could operate productively. The Hole-Shooter was game-changing for the industry.

When Petersen’s facility was hit by a disastrous fire, his colleague A.F. Siebert bought the business with the aim of developing the HOLE-SHOOTER™ under his newly formed enterprise, the Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation. Milwaukee first built a business in repairing tools, and through listening to the user, uncovered opportunities to provide new solutions to their customers. The company’s engineers constantly explored opportunities to provide innovative, electrical-powered solutions that would increase productivity for the user. Using the findings of both competitive analysis and their own user feedback, the HOLE-SHOOTER™ was made stronger and more durable, just what the market wanted in the automotive industry and beyond into the heavier metalworking industrial sector. Milwaukee also started to produce its own fractional horsepower motors to provide the flexibility to customize its requirements, resulting in increased productivity, longer lifespan, less maintenance and better overload capacity. The high standards set for Milwaukee products soon enabled it to gain equipment specification ratings from the US government, with machines such as electric sanders, portable hand grinders and a 3/4-inch electric hammer drill made to Naval specifications.