United States Luggage has two distinct historical roots -The United States Trunk Co., founded in 1911 in Fall River, Massachusetts and London Leather, founded in 1940 by John Ax in New York City.
John Ax was a skilled craftsman who, with his young family, walked off the boat from Europe, carrying little more than $100 and the clothes on their backs. Scraping together enough money to buy leather scraps from local tanneries in New York City, he handmade wallets, key fobs and other small leather goods, which he sold to support his young family. He named the company London Leather. In 1959 Larry Krulik, joined his father-in-law and together they steadily grew the company. In the early 1970’s London Leather transitioned from its New York city manufacturing roots and shifted to instead designing and wholesaling wooden jewelry boxes that were manufactured in the Far East.
United States Trunk Co. established a solid reputation in its early years as a manufacturer of trunks and duffels in Fall River Massachusetts. In the 1950’s, with the nation’s increased prosperity spawning a new generation of middle class travelers, the business shifted toward hand-carried luggage, changing the company’s name to United States Luggage.
In 1970, as Vice President of United States Luggage, Bernard Sadow hit upon an idea that was to change the face of the luggage industry. While on a Caribbean vacation with his family, struggling to drag multiple pieces of luggage through the airport, he noticed a worker easily moving bags on a skid with wheels. Immediately upon his return to the factory in Fall River, Sadow riveted a set of ball casters onto the bottom of a suitcase and attached a rope to the front. He had created the world’s first piece of rolling luggage. After perfecting the design, he approached the nations leading retailers, enduring countless rejections before Macys’s begrudgingly agreed to showcase the piece. Within a few short months, sales sky rocketed. Although Sadow secured a patent, it was subsequently overturned and the idea was copied by dozens of other manufacturers.
In 1982, Larry Krulik and Bernard Sadow had the good fortune to be introduced by a mutual friend and Krulik acquired United States Luggage. He quickly eliminated the luggage portion of the business in order to focus more fully on its more profitable line of leather business cases. By the late 1980’s, United States Luggage had become one of the largest leather attaché case companies in the U.S., known for affordable, high quality attaché cases, patented designs, and the first color packaging in this category of products.
In 1987, Larry’s son, Richard, joined his father in the company. Richard and his father worked together for 8 years before Larry sadly passed away after a long battle with cancer upon which Richard took the helm as CEO.
In 2000, United States Luggage acquired Briggs & Riley, an upscale luggage company founded in 1993 in Half Moon Bay, California. Briggs & Riley had built a great reputation for stylish, high quality luggage known for its famous “Simple as that” lifetime warranty and Krulik seized the opportunity when the company became for sale. Today, Briggs & Riley is the leader in luxury performance luggage and is sold in specialty retailers and high-end department stores in more than 30 countries, select etailers as well as direct-to-consumer on its own web site.
In 2008 United States Luggage products were rebranded and reinvented as Solo, with product designs and branding that better reflects a younger more style savvy consumer. Today, Solo is one of the largest bag & tablet case brands in the world. Solo products are sold worldwide at mass retailers, specialty stores, department stores and many internet retailers.
The enduring success of the company continues to be the family values and atmosphere, combined with a professional organization that prides itself on great teamwork, collaboration, career advancement and an atmosphere of respect both within the company as well as with its long-standing vendors, retailers and of course, consumers. The company’s headquarters is in New York with satellite offices in California, United Kingdom and China.