Every Little Bit Helped

The Drill Doctor, engineered and manufactured in Ashland, hit the handyman consumer market with a wallop.

The drill bit sharpener — developed by industrial component sharpener Darex — was released in 1998 and over the next five years took the country by storm, thanks in part to a million-dollar advertising blitz on the late radio broadcaster Paul Harvey's "News and Comment" show.

President and Chief Executive Officer Hank O'Dougherty said sales for the Drill Doctor, which now have surpassed $3 million, peaked in 2003.

"We went through a gift-giving period that boosted sales," O'Dougherty said. "But I think we're down to the real users now."

The Bernard family moved Darex operations to Ashland from Illinois in 1979 and now has fourth-generation members on staff. Two years ago, the company, which employs 65, introduced sharpeners for woodworking tools.

"The woodworking market is only so big," O'Dougherty said. "But we're moving into a dominant position in that market."

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