It all began in September of 1870, when an electrotype foundry was established in Chicago to produce cuts for letterpress printing. It was founded under the name of Shniedewend & Lee.
The young company would have been wiped out by the disastrous Chicago fire had it not been for the quick thinking of partner James Lee and a foundry foreman. The two men loaded master electrotype cuts and important books and papers onto a horse drawn wagon and drove it to safety in the knee deep waters of Lake Michigan. Two weeks later, the firm reopened in a barn and in 1873, Shniedewend & Lee moved into larger quarters and opened a store for the wholesale and retail sale of printing machines, printer's supplies, and foundry type.
The original paper cutter factory established.
Shniedewend & Lee Company was reorganized as the Challenge Machinery Company and produced the first Challenge paper cutter.
The growing company moved to Grand Haven, Michigan across the same Great Lake whose water helped save the company over 33 years earlier.
A foundry was added fulfilling a Lee family ambition to begin with raw material and produce a finished product, all under one roof. By this point in its history, it was clear that Challenge had become an important name in the printing equipment industry.