Great Star has been expanding at a rapid pace. They acquired Goldblatt back in 2010, and then they acquired Pony and Jorgensen in 2016, and Arrow Fastener in 2017.
Hangzhou Great Star Industrial acquired Shop Vac in late 2020, saving them from bankruptcy, and they recently acquired SK Hand Tool from Ideal Industries.
Earlier this year, Great Star also acquired certain assets from Joh Friedrich Behrens, a German pneumatic nailer company.
There is another company that Great Star is in the process of acquiring, and if it goes through, this will be (at least) their third in less than a year.
Great Star is in the process of acquired Geelong Holdings, a tool box manufacturer.
According to a news story by Yicai Global:
Great Star Industrial aims to become the world’s biggest storage cabinet designer and producer by buying Geelong Holdings for USD131.4 million.
Through the all-cash deal, Great Star targets at least 10 percent of the global market for storage cabinets in the next three to five years, the Hangzhou-based company said in a statement today. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval.
According to a more recent announcement (PDF), Great Star is acquiring Geelong for US$128.2 million.
Geelong Holdings was the parent company to International, a tool storage brand that closed down a few years ago.
Things are getting interesting,
What does this mean?
Right now? Nothing, as it also looks like the acquisition is still in the process of going through.
Geelong makes a lot of tool storage products for quite a few brands. Great Star manufacturers hand tools and mechanics tools, and also now owns SK Hand Tool.
Great Star also has deepening ties with Lowe’s. It will be interesting to see how everything develops over the next few years, and whether any other companies are added to their expanded portfolio of brands.
This is to be celebrated … Great Star seems to be ready and willing to deploy capital into some much-loved but capital-starved tool companies. I have no idea if they will succeed, but it does offer hope for these iconic tool brands.
But you know the quality won’t be what it was with most of brands.
The quality maybe good. There are many high quality products made in China.
As you say, this offers possibilities. Maybe we’ll see some SK branded tool chests and carts in the future – made at a Zhongshan Geelong factory in Guandong
XDD for Lowe and Geelong for HD.
I agree with both Gary and fred here, this is good news indeed, it shows that Great Star is in a strong position and is willing to invest in their product line. Good news so far. The question remains what part of the market are they looking to compete in? Low end stuff like Craftsman? Or are they trying to take on Snap-On?
Maybe SK Green crinkle finish – to be sold at Lowes. To be a step up from the low end – but not priced anyway near Snap-On ??
Great Star could have created a new brand altogether to sell tools … it did not NEED SK, International, etc. I think the idea of spending real money on valuable brand names for the primary purpose of eroding the brand’s cachet is a poor strategy for earning returns.
But regardless, there did not appear to be many (any?) competing bids. Had Great Star not stepped in to buy these brands, they could very well have gone the way of Armstrong.
I agree that brand name erosion is a poor strategy, at least long-term, but we don’t know that’s what they are doing just yet. It’s certainly possible they’ll slash quality and if so I’ll walk away. But if they produce a good product for good value that’s a different story.
Has TTI’s acquisition of Milwaukee Tools lead to brand name erosion? To be fair, it seems to me that TTI has invested a lot more in Milwaukee (including in the US) than the previous owner ever did.
So hopefully GS will do the same for its brands.
I agree with this entirely … Milwaukee was an iconic brand name that had been capital-starved for years. TTI acquired it, invested in it, and completely turned it around.
I’m not predicting anything, but I am very hopeful that there may be a brighter future for SK and these other brands.
It can be hard to predict these things. Back in what some think to be the halcyon days (in my view some tumultuous times) of the 1960’s – if you wanted to buy into a full line of small professional-grade power tools (corded back then) – you looked at Milwaukee, Porter Cable and Skil. B&D was still making some professional grade tools – but they had just acquired Dewalt – and were just starting to transform that brand from a RAS manufacturer to what it is today. The Porter Cable (then part of aerospace giant Rockwell International) and Skil (then an independent company – prior acquisition by Emerson, then Bosch, then Chervon) – were sort of the head to head competitors – akin to what Dewalt and Milwaukee are today. Milwaukee seemed (IMO) to be hanging on – resting more on its laurels than innovating – slow to catch up to the double-insulated offerings from PC and Skil.
When Milwaukee was sold to Amstar in 1975 there was some hope – but then when they were bought out by Merrill Lynch (known more as a stock brokerage than manufacturer ) and then Atlas Copco in 1995 – the decline of the brand seemed in full swing. So you are quite correct in that TTI’s purchase of the brand – about 16 years ago – was what saved them.
BTW Chervon might have done the same for Skil (after they acquired the brand from Bosch) – but they seem to prefer to keep the brand as a niche player – closer to its original roots as a saw maker – while they use their acquisition of the German Flex brand as their new entrant into the cordless tool market.
What if they took the market space everyone seems to wish Craftsman would occupy? I.e. quality, mostly made-in-the-USA tools for the budget pro.
Those brands, especially SK, seem to have the brand power to do it – or could anyway. SK makes nice stuff, but the price is high. Maybe if someone pumped in the resources and the big box connections to increase production and market space, they could really have something.
Great Star is amassing Western brands at fast pace. Great Star and China in general have proven ability to make things yet they have had much less success in creating and growing brands. So now, flush with cash from making stuff they’re buying the brands they couldn’t build on their own. Will it be good for consumers? Maybe. Will it be good for American workers? Probably less so but nothing is clear.
Growing a business organically is often a difficult task. It may be much easier and successful to start with a financially sound base and then acquire businesses that supplement your capabilities. My start was in the plumbing business – expanded from a local concern to be more of a regional player. Then we partnered with folks who had a successful GC business. We then went on to buy up some struggling small remodeling businesses, a cabinet/woodworking business and finally a pipe/metal fabrication business. There were some economies of scale that came along the way but mostly an overarching management philosophy that helped each business compete and thrive.
My guess is that the chineese see the writing on the wall. WalMart has dabbled a made in USA carrot out in front of the consumer also/lowes/craftsman SBD and some others. SBD said they could produce hand tools in Texas as cheaply as china – and have yet to do so. Still – the threat remains for china. My dismal prediction – they gobble up brands and keep the money machine running in a way the average joe/jane cannot see. Example timeline for illustration:
Shop Vac a name trusted by many
1. Moves manufacturing to China – still USA owned – only informed consumers keep up – China makes money from manufacturing
2. china buys Shop Vac – Now china makes money from manufacturing and profits from sales – but keeps USA jobs.
3. China keeps working the propaganda machine to convince people they have good intentions and when successful – they will move those jobs to china or wherever is best to fit their strategic needs.
I don’t like it. Don’t get me wrong – I have no problem purchasing from any country that plays fair. I have Canadian, Japanese, German products in my home. I believe (because I have some first hand knowledge) almost everything I hear negative about china. I for one will continue – (even though they are attempting to make it difficult) to purchse ABC.
A lot of what you say simply doesn’t apply here. Hangzhou GreatStar Industrial is a publicly-traded company based in China. Geelong, which describes themselves as the “world’s leading steel tool box manufacturer,” manufactures in China and already makes tool boxes for a lot of American brands and retailers.
Shop Vac closed facilities and laid off workers months before Great Star acquired remaining assets. It’s unclear if there were any jobs left to save – Shop Vac was already being dismantled when the acquisition was announced.
This Geelong acquisition seems different from the others. Pony/Jorgensen and Shop Vac were failed companies. SK went bankrupt before being acquired by Ideal. Ideal Industries, now SK’s previous owner, shuttered another of their USA tool brands recently, and it’s unclear what would have happened to SK if Ideal hadn’t found a buyer.
This acquisition intent was actually announced several months ago, but I only recently learned about it when looking for additional SK news.
Great Star is a large hand tool maker, and they also produce tools under OEM contracts for many different tool brands.
It remains to be seen what happens with Shop Vac and SK Hand Tools, but Great Star looks to have a solid track record with their previous acquisitions, and they have strong relationships with many US brands.
There are obviously corporate strategies at play here, but I haven’t seen them do anything to justify your anti-China arguments.
FYI – “… International, a tool storage brand that closed down a few years ago.” I saw this International mobile workbench at an HD in Los Angeles a couple of months ago. https://www.homedepot.com/p/International-46-in-W-x-24-5-in-D-9-Drawer-Tool-Chest-Mobile-Workbench-with-Solid-Wood-Top-in-Orange-ITB46MWC9ORXD/309338953#overlay . Any ideas if it is new meaning International is up and running already or just NOS?
They could just be using the brand name. These boxes look identical to Husky.
The International that used to exist, and their designs, looks to be gone for good.
I have an international SRB 5 drawer 44″ bottom roller with a SRT4200 hutch in safety blue, not sure if they were made in Canada or just assembled there. But, very good quality.
I wonder which tool box company, it will be interesting when they announce it. Knack perhaps? Sure a lot of difference in rolling tool cart weights. Harbor Freights full bank cart is 300 pounds I think, where Gearwrenchs is 160 pounds.
As mentioned in the post, it’s Geelong.
They are starting to sell all the manufacturing equipment in the Illinois plant. Don’t know if they have other equipment but looks like they’re coming back on manufacturing in the US.
This makes me irratte! Speaking of tools every one that said it’s a good thing China bought sk your nuts. Why are American tool brands dying off? Because cheap crap flooding our market and sheep that won’t even change their own oil buying whatever junk is at that huge store full his Chinese junk home or the other one. And our government is getting rich while they sell off a legacy of hard working Americans and replace them with softer nicer cupcakes like you who won’t offend anyone. China it’s not a nice place the company that bought sk and our government allowed. That’s China explain how technically it isn’t all you want if your happy about this let us know when you plan to move over and help this great tool company that is here to help disgrace the name like they did Craftsman I’m sick
I recently bought the Craftsman 450 piece tool set. I found out that is was made by Great Star Tool. It is very good quality. This set is actually made in Taiwan. I also bought a great Husky tool set made of components made in China and Taiwan. The Chinese companies that own tool companies that they acquired is our reality. We have to live in our reality, not the reality that we want.
In December 2021 they auctioned off all the SK Tool inventory, I attended the auction on Bidspotter. Now the SK website states that they are completely out of inventory because of “global supply chain issues”, their exact words. I wouldn’t consider it to be “global supply chain issues” when you auction off all of your inventory! Just an observation. Someone posted that they sold off the manufacturing equipment in November. I can see how it would be difficult to keep up production without any equipment to do so. Maybe they will make a go of it once they start production in Williamsport, PA. GreatStar is supposed to be producing SK Tools at the Shop-Vac plant in PA, but I haven’t seen any updates or production. Anyone else have any updates?
No news yet. This is the latest, which isn’t much – https://toolguyd.com/sk-tools-new-online-shop-2022/ .