I read, in a now-deleted Garage Journal post, that Apex Tool Group was shutting down Armstrong and Allen hand tool brands.
Details of the happenings can be found via The State, a South Carolina paper.
According to the paper, production of both brands’ hand tool lines will just cease, and 170 workers located at the Sumpter, SC facility will be out of their jobs by March 31st, 2017.
From The State:
“This is not manufacturing that is moving anywhere else, it is not going to another facility. We are not going to be selling these products,” she said.
She said APEX will focus on its GearWrench brand, which has seen strong growth in the past couple of years.
“By streamlining our mechanic’s hand tools portfolio, we can invest in and grow one brand for this market segment,” Rhoads said.
I like Gearwrench products, and can understand that there is a lot of overlap and potential overlap between Gearwrench and Allen brands. Allen just doesn’t have the same distribution base or modern name recognition, at least from what I’ve seen.
Well, there goes one of the best USA-based hand tool brands.
As mentioned in that post, most of my Armstrong experiences are with Craftsman Professional hand tools that were widely believed to have come off of Armstrong tool production lines. Not anymore though, with many/most Craftsman mechanics tools now being made overseas.
But those, and my few other Armstrong tools, are darned good tools.
I hadn’t bought new Armstrong tools in a while, mainly due to high pricing. No matter what I was interested in, there were comparable tools from other USA brands, and at lower pricing.
Has Armstrong innovated in a while? I’m not sure. But I’ve seen steady news of new Gearwrench tools over the years.
I’m finding this news difficult to process. It doesn’t help that there’s not a lot of concrete information to go by.
If Armstrong tool production is indeed ending, I’d find myself saddened by this, before thinking back to recent years and ahead to the next few years. I haven’t bought any new Armstrong tools – well, aside from a small “new old stock” low profile socket set – and I don’t plan to buy any new Armstrong tools.
I’m left wondering – why couldn’t Apex Tool Group have kept the production facility up and running, adding the tools to Gearwrench’s lineup? Maybe spinning the tools as an “Armstrong, by Gearwrench” sub-brand?
Wouldn’t users welcome the news of USA-made Gearwrench tools?
I… just… what?!
What is going on here?
There’s no other information about what’s going on with all this, that I could find. And I guess we won’t find any. Apex Tool Group is owned by Bain Capital, a “global alternative investment firm.” Private companies aren’t obligated to share or release information in the same way as public companies.
Maybe only the production of some Allen and Armstrong tools will be eliminated. But reading the State article several times, along with a few other lower east coast news stories and video clips, it really seems like the 2 brands are being eliminated entirely, as Apex Tool Group seeks to “streamline” their mechanics hand tools portfolio.
What’s your take on this?
If you work at Allen, Armstrong, Gearwrench, or Apex Tool Group and have any added information or insight, please let us know!