What’s Happening to Pratt-Read, another USA Tool Brand?

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Pratt-Read is a very old American company, having been founded in 1798 and making screwdrivers since 1834.

Ideal Industries acquired Pratt-Read in 2010, around the same time they also acquired Western Forge and SK Hand Tool. It has been around 11 years since Ideal acquired those 3 USA tool brands and manufacturers.

Ideal closed Western Forge in 2020, shutting down the factory and laying off the workers that couldn’t be moved to other plants. Sears, likely their largest customer at the time, moved manufacturing contracts overseas several years ago and also sold the Craftsman tool brand to Stanley Black & Decker. Western Forge ultimately could not make up for the massive loss in sales volume.

Following rumors earlier this year, it was recently announced that Ideal Industries would be selling their SK Hand Tools brand to GreatStar. Hangzhou GreatStar Industrial is based in China and has rescued quite a few American brands from bankruptcy.

GreatStar has issued an announcement about the acquisition, but at this time there is still no indication as to how SK Hand Tools will be operated moving forward. Meaning, will they continue to manufacture hand tools in the USA or not?

This all leads to a new question – What about Pratt-Read?

Western Forge, Pratt-Read, and SK Hand Tools were all acquired by Ideal back in 2010. Of those 3 tool brands and manufacturers, Pratt-Read is the only one left.

A reader recently wrote in about concerns for Pratt-Read’s operations.

The new shipments of Masterforce screwdrivers are made in China. I wrote Menards to ask why and they responded that the manufacturer had closed their US plant. The Masterforce screwdrivers appeared to be Pratt-Read. However, I can find nothing that says Pratt-Read is not producing in Sycamore, IL. Does anyone have any updates?

Back when Western Forge’s closure was announced, news reports said that Ideal Industries would consolidate manufacturing at its SK Professional Tools factory in Sycamore, Illinois.

But now SK Hand Tools has been sold. Does the plant remain in Ideal Industry’s possession, was it closed, or was it included in the sale?

There are concerns on enthusiast forums that Pratt-Read’s website has been taken down, but a basic informational page is still available at prattread.com.

Pratt-Read, like Western Forge, is mainly an OEM manufacturer. While you can buy Pratt-Read tools at specialty retailers, most of their tools are manufactured under other brands’ labels. This is in contrast to SK Hand Tool, which is its own tool brand.

It is unclear what’s happing to Pratt-Read right now, but it’s not a good sign that Menards have had to replace their USA-made screwdrivers – widely believe to have been manufactured by Pratt-Read – with imported screwdrivers.

There was always some overlap between Western Forge and Pratt-Read, but is there anything left to Pratt-Read now that Western Forge is closed and SK Hand Tools sold?

However, it is possible that Ideal’s growing business relationship with Lowe’s is at least partially responsible for Menards being unable to continue their USA-made screwdriver lines.

Earlier this year, we reported on the surge of Ideal hand tools and electrical tools at Lowe’s.

Ideal Electrical Screwdrivers at Lowes

The screwdriver pegs at Lowe’s are now filled with USA-made screwdrivers.

These new Ideal screwdrivers at Lowe’s seem to have an iconic Pratt-Read cushion-grip design. It is possible that, assuming that Pratt-Read and Ideal manufactured Menards’ previous screwdrivers, the tool maker no longer has the output capacity to fulfill the needs of both Lowe’s and Menards.

Back when Sears stilled owned the Craftsman tool brand, they moved enormous volumes of screwdrivers and pliers, especially around the holiday shopping seasons when value-priced sets of USA-made tools flooded the sales floor. I don’t think anyone would assume Lowe’s intends to do the same with Ideal.

Is the Pratt-Read tool company in a good place right now? Has it been fully absorbed into Ideal Industries’ namesake electrical tool brand?

Looking at more of the history behind Pratt-Read’s acquisition, it turns out that Pratt-Read’s factories were closed in 2010, never having been operated by Ideal Industries. At the time, an Ideal spokesperson said that they were making Pratt-Read screwdrivers at their existing facilities.

So, at the end of the this story, there are still a couple of questions, but not about Pratt-Read.

If there is any remaining equipment, it’s not going to be at Pratt-Read facilities (which closed at least 11 years ago), Western Forge facilities (which closed last year), or SK Hand Tools (as the brand was recently sold).

If Pratt-Read-style screwdrivers are being made for Ideal at Ideal plants, and readers are reporting changes at other brands and retailers (namely Menards), does Pratt-Read even exist anymore?

Is the screwdriver brand at all indistinguishable from Ideal?

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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