Pillstrom Tongs were invented by Lawrence G. Pillstrom MD for the safe capture of snakes for scientific research. The company eventually began shipping these unique, safe herpetological tools all over the world. They are used by zoos, animal control agencies, specialty animal handlers, collectors, and others. The company expanded upon the line of original snake tongs and modified them to be used for hunting frogs, pruning trees, cooking outdoors, picking up aluminum cans, and more.
In 1953, as a young student at what is now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock (Pulaski County), Pillstrom began some early studies and medical research of snake venom and its effects. As a key part of his doctoral work, he had to capture and control his own research specimens. He quickly discovered that he would need help in gathering the dangerous reptiles, so he built his first prototype from a broom handle and the coil springs from the back of an old refrigerator. He then began building other prototypes, refining them, and seeking proper materials. He invented and improved manufacturing styles, built upon those techniques, and, finally, on September 24, 1957, patented his creation (No. 2807495), known as Pillstrom Tongs.
The original Pillstrom Tongs were the first in the industry. Pillstrom started production in Altus (Franklin County), his hometown. After graduating from medical school, he started his formal medical practice in Rogers (Benton County) and moved his business there. He later moved his medical practice and the company to Fort Smith (Sebastian County).
Pillstrom’s entrepreneurial spirit and skills led to the development of a marketable, functional, and safe tool. Pillstrom began to visit trade shows at rattlesnake round-ups, where people hunted rattlesnakes for sport. He eventually expanded his market into hardware stores and chains, as well as an online store.
When Pillstrom retired from his medical practice in 1984, he continued to manage the small firm. His son, Larry G. Pillstrom, learned the manufacturing process and began to help his father run the business. When Dr. Pillstrom died in 2003, his family moved the business back to Rogers and carried on the manufacturing of Pillstrom Tongs. The company employs approximately a dozen people, all of whom are members of the Pillstrom family.
For additional information:
Pillstrom Tongs. http://www.pillstromtongs.com/ (accessed June 14, 2016).
Last Updated: 10/03/2016