View all articles

Who’s behind the tools at HURST Jaws of Life®? Karen Malcolm, world traveler and music lover. A former United States Navy technician and journalist turned civilian travel agent, she found her way home to the Carolinas where she builds HURST Jaws of Life rescue tools.

Karen was raised in North Carolina and attended East Carolina University’s School of Music for several years before joining the U.S. Navy. She was a hull technician on the USS Boxer (LHD-4), welding and plumbing while discovering the world. During her 10 years in the Navy, she visited exotic and far-away places including Singapore, Japan, Hawaii, Dubai, Kuwait, Jebel Ali and Australia. She never lost her love of music, and even had the opportunity to sing at the Sidney Opera House while Down Under. Taking advantage of creative opportunities, Karen soon took a naval post as a journalist, reporting on news and stories through the USS Boxer’s television station and newspaper.

With Navy experience and extensive travel knowledge, she later pursued a degree in Hospitality Management at Highline Community College in Des Moines, WA and became a travel agent. From Mexico’s blue waters to places including Walt Disney World, Karen explored new sights and scenes and helped her customers craft their ideal vacation. She spent her days at work planning adventures, but she found herself longing to be home. Karen and her husband – her high school crush with whom she later re-connected – settled in Kings Mountain, N.C., and she joined the team at HURST Jaws of Life’s headquarters. She said she hasn’t lost her travel bug, but she’s found a new sense of satisfaction.

“I’m very happy. I’m doing something more important now,” Karen said, gesturing to the StrongArm® multi-purpose rescue tool coming to life in her hands. “I love building StrongArm. It’s so lightweight and compact. It can do so much.

The tool is much like Karen, a jack of all trades — a singing, traveling, country-defending storyteller who has found her new home #BehindTheTools.