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When Judging Tool Brands’ Actions, “What Would I do Differently?”

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What would I do differently?

Let’s look at a couple of recent headlines.

Ideal Industries sold SK Hand Tool to Great Star.

Dewalt came out with a 12V Max Xtreme circular saw.

Dewalt has a new line of Elite power tool accessories on the way.

Lowe’s has bolstered their cordless power tool brand selection, as seen by the different cordless drill kits and promos they had for Father’s Day.

Dewalt has a new 15Ah FlexVolt Li-ion battery.

Metabo HPT have refreshed the brand’s cordless tool displays at Lowe’s and other stores.

A lot of times, new tools or corporate moves make perfect sense and nobody can reasonably find fault to them.

But, sometimes a new tool is controversial, with some readers saying “who will ever buy that?” Other times, a business move might prompt comments along the lines of “well, that’s a bad call!”

I try to be objective and open-minded, but I also have thoughts, opinions, and preferences. Asking myself what I would do differently tends to help me in sorting things out.

What I have found is that sometimes I wouldn’t change a brand or retailer’s disagreeable decision if given the opportunity. Sometimes a disagreeable call makes sense, although that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Dewalt discontinued their USA-made screwdrivers. What would I do differently here? By the time the screwdrivers were discontinued, it was already too late. I would have marketed them heavily to help push exposure and sales. But what if retailers weren’t on-board and competitive pricing proved to be too unsustainable?

Sometimes I think I would do things differently, but I also don’t have all the information that went into a tool brand’s decisions.

Also, when playing the “what would I do differently?” game, you can only go back in time so far. Meaning, some tool world happenings are fixed, and others fluid and open to the thought exercise.

There has been some negativity regarding GreatStar’s acquisition of SK Hand Tool. Hangzhou GreatStar Industrial is a publicly-traded company that’s based in China, but with some subsidiaries and tool brands based in the USA.

Ideal acquired SK Hand Tool in 2010 after the tool brand declared bankruptcy, and they announced construction of a new factory a month later. After a few months, SK Hand Tool was taking new orders again. What has the brand done in the decade since then? There’s greater competition, but did they rise to the challenge?

If Great Star didn’t acquire the SK Hand Tool brand, how else could things have turned out?

Ideal Industries closed the Western Forge brand. Might the same have happened to SK if they couldn’t find a buyer?

Stanley Black & Decker acquired Waterloo Industries, which is now manufacturing tool boxes for their Craftsman brand. Stanley Black & Decker has a new mechanics tools factory in the works. Milwaukee Tool acquired Empire Level and more recently, Imperial Blades. Wiha has OEM contracts with USA tool makers to make their new screwdriver handles. The same has been true for Channellock, but that wasn’t always the case.

As far as I am aware, SK Hand Tool wasn’t producing tools for other brands.

We don’t know why Ideal wanted to part with SK Hand Tool, but rumors of Ideal looking for a buyer go back at least as as early as February 2021.

All we know is that SK was up for sale, and GreatStar bought the brand.

Will GreatStar be a great fit for the SK Hand Tool brand? Maybe. And if not, we can look back in a few years and ask “what could they have done differently?”

I have talked to the folks at GreatStar USA a few times, and they seem passionate about tools. I haven’t talked to the folks at SK or Ideal Industries in a very long time, but I don’t think they would make decisions that would hurt the SK brand.

Look at what happened when Milwaukee Tool acquired Empire Level – they poured money into the company and the investment seems to have worked out well over the past few years. It’s possible something similar will happen here with GreatStar and SK Hand Tool, but unfortunately, there’s no relatable basis for gauging its likelihood.

As with other tool industry happenings, all we can do is wait and watch how things pan out.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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