About Us

Since 1930, The Modern Specialties Company has manufactured outstanding industrial cutters, utility knives and blades for the construction industry and for opening corrugated boxes. A smaller company, we attribute our longevity to our emphasis on quality, service and customer satisfaction.

Modern Specialties' commitment to product excellence and outstanding service is long standing and well known. It is our guarantee of total customer satisfaction.


The Modern Specialties Company was founded in 1930, Chicago, Illinois, by August J Lurie. Modern was his original name for the company. Lurie was the inventor of Modern’s unique line of utility knife and safety knife products, including the specially designed replacement blades. Modern’s early success was based on his innovatively designed and patented products.

A.J. Lurie invented the first safety knife and trademarked them “KuttO”as well as his utility products which he trademarked “UtillO”. He patented some of Modern’s products which include patents US2128151, US2187590, US2241608, US2978807, US3178812, US3184843 and his currently known patents range from the years of 1938 to 1965. Mr. Lurie became very ill at age 94. He went to the office every day until that time. He was hospitalized for three years until he died in Chicago, Illinois at age 97 in 1979.

Modern Specialties was originally located at 4140 Harrison Street and was later moved to Ogden Avenue in a new building that Lurie built for the company. Modern Specialties went up for auction in early 1981 as Lurie’s primary funds were in the care of the Northern Trust Bank with a million dollars going to Michael Reese Hospital and another million going to Mt. Sinai Hospital. Robert Dean and Gerissa A. French bid on Modern Specialties and won. Robert Dean French, a retired naval commander, moved Modern to 661 West Lake Street in Chicago, Illinois. The trademarks were renewed and the trademark “Modern Roofer” replaced the “UtillO” trademark.

The company’s goal is, and always has been, to provide quality products for the best value and to provide complete customer satisfaction with the best possible customer service. 

In 2021, the company was relocated to Northern Minnesota.

In May 2023, the company acquired SealOMatic, which was founded in 1933 by the Ortner family who continued to run the company until this time. SealOMatic was a pioneer in the packaging equipment industry.  Their creed has always been to sell quality products at competitive prices and offer the best service possible to our customers. The Modern Specialties Company is dedicated to continuing to provide quality customer service and quality products to SealOMatic's customers.