The story is still unfolding, but it seems that Shop-Vac is closing their Williamsport, Pennsylvania headquarters.
Shop-Vac is a widely recognized brand of heavy duty and wet-dry vacuums.
Shop-Vac describes their Williamsport, PA facility as their primary location and USA headquarters via LinkedIn, and this address is also prominently listed on their website.
News reports have said that most of Shop-vac’s 400+ Williamsport employees have lost their jobs. Reports say that first-shift workers were notified Tuesday morning as they arrived at work, and that a few administrative employees will remain through the end of the week.
There are reports that the workers have also lost their health insurance and benefits.
Notifications provided to workers are said to read:
We regret that we were unable to provide you with more notice. The current global pandemic and economic crisis has left the Company in dire financial conditions. The Company accordingly had been negotiating the sale of the business as a going concern, which, if such sale has been completed, would have enabled us to stay in business and continue the employment of employees. We fully anticipated the sale to be completed and for the buyer to hire all employees.
Unfortunately, the buyer without warning walked away from the deal. This unforeseeable business circumstance has left us with no choice but to close our facilities.
News reports say that all of Shop-Vac’s more than 400 employees at their Reach Road facility in Williamsport, PA will be losing their jobs. Shop-Vac is said to have more than 1700 employees worldwide.
There are more questions than answers.
First, with Shop-Vac closing what looks to be their USA headquarters, what’s to happen to the brand?
How will this affect existing customers, seeing as how their Williamsport, PA facility is (was) also the contact location for service requests?
Shop-Vac is a privately-owned company. At this time Shop-Vac’s Facebook page has been taken down. It is unknown as to how their facilities in NY and China will be affected by this or further developments. Shop-Vac has previously laid off 144 workers at their NY plant in mid-2019.
Shop-Vac is facing harsh criticisms for the abrupt layoffs, unexpectedly leaving their 400+ workers without jobs, health insurance, or benefits.
Please let us know if you have more details about this situation!
H/T: Travis (@ToolsbyDesign)
Update 9/18/20: Additional local reporting has said that Shop-Vac has closed or will be closing 3 separate Williamsport, PA facilities, and with layoffs of 427 workers set to continue into November.
Reading further through some of the articles it sounds like will be entirely going out of business. It appears they were trying to sell the company off and it fell through.
There’s no explicit mention of that, though.
I can’t see how the headquarters – or what seems to be the headquarters and a production facility (given mention of first-shift workers) – can shut down and still have the company operate. But there are other facilities remaining open, or at least without any news of closures thus far.
Maybe there’s enough to carry them through the holiday season?
Yeah it’s very strange how the articles are all worded. As you said I don’t see how the headquarters can close and the other facilities and 1300 employees aren’t affected. It could may be be possible the buyer only backed out of buying that plant, but is keeping the remaining assets. There is something missing for sure though.
It seems the only information available are letters received by the laid off workers and any other worker information. There doesn’t appear to be any statements from the company, and at least one news source says Shop-Vac management declined to comment.
The “Shop-Vac” is shutting down message I read in early stories does not seem to have been corroborated by Shop-Vac yet.
Shop Vac had 3 seperate production sites (PA, NY, and China) They shut down and closed all NY operating sites (3 in total) in 2019 and moved those production lines to China and Williamsport.
The bulk of vac production was in NY and PA. While China had some vac production, but their output was mostly motors.
They are out of business. All operating sites closed.
– Former Director of Supply Chain
“Shop-Vac has previously laid off 144 workers at their NY plant in mid-2019.”
So that’s why SBD Craftsman stopped using Shop Vac.
I feel bad for the employees who lost their jobs, but man I hate doing business with privately held companies. I won’t miss them if they really do fold.
Yeah, death to small businesses! All hail Amazon overlords!!
Huh. My tend to favor privately held companies since they’re not driven by stock price. 2 well loved private companies off the top of my head: Trader Joes and Wawa.
I get it, but I like to have the opportunity to share in a companies profits if I’m going to give them business. Amazon has done awesome for me this year. Or at least since the Covid influence.
It’s too bad Amazon is notorious for how they treat their employees (or competitors or their suppliers)
While it may be good to you, it’s not great for thousands of employees…..
Only stockholders love publicly owned corporations.
I’m getting sick of hearing Amazon bashing, especially on a thread about SHOP-VAC. [I do not, nor have I ever worked at Amazon or an affiliated company. ] No one forces Amazon employees to work there, except maybe for us, the buying public. If the employees don’t like it, they can learn to type.
This is supposed to be about Shop-Vac’s abrupt closure, let’s stick to the topic. I’m fairly sure Shop-Vac’s abrupt closure was MUCH worse for their employees than Amazon.
thanks for your comment
I love WaWa
Me too. Waiting for my Social Security check to have another mini hoagie.
They have not been a contender in their sector for 20 years, they had a price-point vacuum that anchored the low end, and may have been the least best noise-making dust recirculater available. I hope the engineers that worked there retire from product development.
You get fired from shopvac or something?
I have used the product.
I have a Stainless Shop-Vac from what seems to have been a mid-range QSP series, that I purchased somewhere between 15 and 20 years ago from Home Depot.
Other than purchasing a GoreTex Cleanstream filter for it, I have been using the vacuum all this time without issue.
It’s louder than my other Fein Vacuum, but maybe around the same volume as a Festool CT33 I’ve used.
When I bought it it might have cost $160 , and MSC still seems to have a successor model for around $300.
While it doesn’t have the fancy features of the Festool or Fein, it’s been well worth the money, and paid for itself the first month I had it.
If there was any issue for Shop-Vac, it was probably that more people bought Ridgid’s vacs.
That’s a product made 15-20 years ago. Reviews of current models aren’t great.
We had a stainless model 2 years ago, it was incredibly loud, ran very hot, and didn’t even last a year. It was replaced with a Ridgid that, while still loud, outperforms it in every other way and is still going strong.
Sounds like you a know it all, that doesn’t know how to install the correct filter !
i only wish the hell people would agree on what filter to use on which model. i have a couple old ones i’d like to get replacements for but apparently the same model numbers are used for differently-sized pieces.
Unfortunately Mark, Shopvac usually takes a beating from Consumer Reports any time there’s a vac comparison. It was a HUGE problem in the company. I know because I worked there for 24 years.
Yeah, I reget having bought a shop vac because it was on sale.
My other much lower priced rigid vacuum is better in every regard.
This is whats wrong with America. Companies start here off the backs of hard working Americans who build and buy their products. Then they relocate to China in the name of the almighty $$. This started long ago, not new. Its a problem of epic proportion tho, and our jobs evaporate to a nation he’ll bent on our demise and destruction. Its quite evident. Good people are in a terrible situation in the most uncertain times… until it affects you or me, its easy to say oh well its not me… ridiculous thinking cuz no job is safe in the PLANDEMIC !!!
I will reiterate another post. People (maybe not you personally – but the majority) vote with their wallets. They want cheap stuff at Walmart and the only way to be the cheapest is build in China. And it has NOTHING to do with fentanyl, covid viruses, slave wages, etc. The main cost savings in China is actually LACK of government oversight. They have nothing equivalent to our OSHA, very little in the way of intellectual property rights. These are just some of the ways the Chinese Govt makes it easier for mfgrs to avoid extra costs.
Until recently I worked at a company that had a factory in mainland China. Our job in the US was to assist US companies make parts and assemblies there. We were a ‘contract manufacturer.’ We’d make electrical & mechanical subassemblies, plastic molded parts, mostly whatever our customers wanted. Ever read those labels that say assembled in USA from global materials – this is how that happens.
Johnny Pencilpusher & Susie housewife have no idea what a quality tool (or anything) is. They DO know they want to spend the least amount of $ on crap they want.
good one, man. don’t get me started on politics. both major parties have been complicit in screwing American workers and allowing companies to pick up and move to slave-labor countries where they can manufacture the inferior merchandise that monopolizes the market here. i tried boycotting Chinese-made goods for years and of course that became impossible.
I have a 30gal Shop vac I bought in 1982. Never a problem.
Someone will likely buy the brand name in a bankruptcy sale, if it comes to that. They might just be all direct from China now if they stick around in any fashion. I didn’t realize they were so bad off, the competition must have been crushing them and they had no cordless line to see their vacs into either, that didn’t help. Sad to see, they were one of those rare cases like Velcro and Zip-Loc where the brand name was synonymous with the whole product category, many people referred to any wet/dry vac as a Shop-Vac.
I’m sure nearly all of us use that generic word to this day. Let’s hope we don’t lose Kleenex!
If its made in China I will never ever buy it period!! I will not support a nation shipping fentanyl by the Ton to aid in the destruction of our society. They are the enemy of the free world.. or Whats left of it. Think a min before u support slave labor and forced organ harvesting on a massive scale. Buying their products is like funding the army preparing to invade your homeland.
If there’s anything to be salvaged at Shop-Vac, maybe a Chinese company will show up and buy the name, so they can sell us back some rebadged Chinese junk under a familiar name we’ve seen everywhere. Just like Rockwell, Delta, etc.
As far as I’m concerned, and I have a few insiders at SV, I’ve never been impressed with their products. Lots of plastic bins in all shapes and forms, but always the same problem : their motors die rather quickly despite using the right bags and filters. Their cheap thin plastic hoses also made it terrible as it was loading a super charge of static electricity… DAMHIKT.
I stopped buying their products long ago after I discovered better dust extractors like Fein and Festool with antistatic hoses and the like. I never looked back.
I’m deeply sorry for the employees who lost their jobs, but their products were not good enough to compete in today’s market.
Yes. Yet another example of US based business complacency.
AKA Eastman Kodak, Polaroid, etc. etc.
But yet I see so many comments on various site saying people will only buy U.S. made products. It’s a fallacy to base a buying decision solely on country of manufacture. Shop-Vac, Kodak, etc are good examples. We can make U.S. produced junk just as well as the Chinese.
Right? It is almost comical. Country of origin is the absolute last thing I look at when buying a product. And actually, sometimes if it is made in the USA I actually question its quality. If it is at the same price point as an import version, surely they are are using cheaper components and materials, or less quality control to make up for the more expensive US labor costs, right? There are always exceptions, call me old fashioned but personally I care more about quality over the “Made in [Insert Country]” sticker.
Its not so much a US thing as it is a world thing!! Growing up, companies strived to make dependable lomg lasting products. Now its all made to break, need parts constantly… see companies stopped valuing us!! The people buying their products. We are looked at as $$$ and nothing more… its disgusting and until we demand better en masse we will b treated like cattle to the slaughterhouse…
People vote and communicate to retailers and companies with their wallets.
A freaking MEN, brother
I’m another ‘insider’ from Shopvac, Ben. Worked there for 24 years. Let me say that you’re absolutely right in your comments. They outsourced the motors to the Shenzhen plant, and quality took a huge nosedive. Instead of trading on the name and making a superior product at a higher price, the owner just made a cheaper and cheaper product and tried to compete with the low priced Chinese-made vacs.
Thank you all. I want to address something that Ive seen in comments more than once now. You are correct, Shopvac did go towards a less expensive product in the past several years. Part of that can also be blamed on that as consumers, who also wanted lower costs. What you dont see,is what company was ADAMENT about shopvac building a factory in China… & then demanded Shopvac build the products back home in the USA, while also expecting that they would be given the same price as the cheaper less expensive cost of having them built oversees. Building it here costs more, because our labor is more. This meant they took a loss on the price..simply to NOT lose that companys business. Wanna guess what company this was?
During country lockdown, shopvac employees still continued to work(the we’re hiring sign still hangs on the building to this day)….even though basically the country wasnt buying shopvacs. Yes, Im certain there were other issues involved as well, but this wasnt simply, just co-vid, or bad decisions, or just money. Just the perfect combination all rolled into one to create a horrible outcome for many of us.
Didn’t Shop Vac make motors back in Felchar’s Binghamton, NY facility? If so, when did they switch to the Chinese motors? I noticed that the first motor my Shop Vac had was a Chinese-made power cord. They sent me a replacement motor that was more powerful. It actually had a power cord made by Shop Vac, from 2018. Was it made in the Felchar plant or the China plant?
Rockwell is not a bad product. Chervon (China)makes a better Skill than was made for years. The Chinese bought Volvo and by all accounts make a good car in Sweden. Most of Milwaukee is made there. Sure, there is a lot if crap coming out of there and there are plenty of social and political reasons not to buy their stuff but it is not black and white. They are quite capable of making quality when they must. They even are on the leading edge in the TV market and other areas.
You’re saying this company was a customer of shop vac? Are you allowed to say who so I can boycott them ?
Maybe Milwaukee (TTI) will snatch them up and add to their lineup of vacuums.
Please no, I’d like it if Milwaukee kept making good vacuums.
Milwaukee makes good vacuums??? News to me
Shop Vac has made Milwaukee branded vacs for years.
I inherited 3 shop vacs last year. I inherited them from homeowners who used them as a homeowner would.
Using them as a contractor would, they all 3 died quick deaths, releasing the magic smoke that makes them operate.
It pains me to admit it, but Ridgid has kicked their butt in this product category.
Although loud, I love my Ridgid. It’s handled water in the basement and drywall dust from my sander really nicely over the last few years. It also came with a nice amount of attachments.
I don’t know if Shop-Vac’s are any better now, but all I remember is how noisy they used to be. Ridgid has made a lot of progress there, not as quiet as Fein, but decent and much cheaper.
I believe that Ridgid vacs are still made by Emerson – who owns the RIDGID Trademark. Emerson seems to have licensed the Ridgid trademark to Home Depot for most tools (other than plumbing tools – which are still produced by Emerson’s Ridge Tool subsidiary). HD in turn – goes to TTI as the OEM for some cordless power tools – some that look a bit like the AEG-branded tools sold in Europe.
TTI makes all Ridgid branded power tools, both cordless and corded. Including bench top and floor standing tools. Not to mention Ryobi and Milwaukee tools, throw in some Homelite, Hoover, Stiletto, Imperial, AEG, there’s more… brands all from TTI. It’s a small world.
Here’s an interesting article about who owns what.
*cough* https://toolguyd.com/tool-brands-corporate-affiliations/ =P
Along with the quality and performance issues that previous commenters have raised, SV did nothing remotely interesting to push the line forward. No variety in form factors or features, or any stand out traits whatsoever. Just a bunch of slightly different cans with slightly different motors strapped onto them. A company has to do *something* competitive to stay in business.
Oddly enough Promit, Shopvac did have some pretty innovative products…they just never advertised them. As an example, I walked into the engineering department one day (I worked at Shopvac for 24 years) and saw something I had never seen before: it was a tool box with a small Shopvac incorporated into it. What an awesome product! Service technicians who have to make house calls would love it. They could bring their tools into a customer’s house, and clean up after themselves before leaving. I actually bought one, and love it. Unfortunately, the owner of Shopvac was loathe to advertise, for some odd reason. What’s really weird was that the owner’s wife was in the advertising business.
Never heard anything good about them I honestly didn’t know they were made in USA still but honestly if a product is garbage I don’t care where it was made. Hopefully the workers will be ok.
They have been producing the majority of their products in China for the last 10 years
The big boxes keep expanding their private labels and ending their relationships with the name brands that helped them build their businesses. Home Depot now sells all Rigid wet/dry vacs (their private label for everything except plumbing tools) and Lowe’s is in the midst of wiping out every tool brand they can by converting to their (new) private brand, Craftsman. They employ a team of product people in China and other countries who specify and source everything themselves. So I can assume Lowe’s told Shop Vac they are out in the last product review and we will see all Craftsman brand vac in the next month or so. All for the sake of the CEO and stockholders.
To this point, however, a private brand isn’t truly a private brand to a retailer if the brand is owned by another company (Rigid- TTI, Craftsman-SBD). The retailers still have their margins dictated to under this scenario and don’t reap the benefits of playing private label manufacturers against each other for products under their true house brands (Kobalt, Husky, etc).
Who’s that company that makes the dewalt vac? Aren’t they US made also and it’s not shop vac that I know of thought it was some outfit in Ohio.
Maybe they’ll buy the shop vac name
I’ve been waiting on the 4 gallon for something like two months now lol Would like to share any insights with the product, but acme’s gotta ship it first…
You would have thought with the bang up home improvement business Home Depot and Lowes have done during covid, some of that would have rubbed off on ShopVac.
In the lower price big box store category of wet/dry vacs, the Emerson/Rigid has been a much better product for as long as I can remember, never did like using a “shop vac”, the rigids always seemed to last longer and work better.
Have a 16 year old 16gallon shop vac from Lowes. While loud, that thing has sucked up some of the most disgusting mud, soil, liquid from various foundation excavations I have done (don’t ask). Clean it out and it keeps on going. I’m shocked it still works. Guess I will be looking elsewhere when it (eventually?) croaks.
My 12 yr. old 4 gal shop vac (QPL40) motor died, only to discover it was the thermal fuse that went out. Can’t seem to find a replacement. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
Hey, Steve. I used to work at Shopvac (in the motor manufacturing division). The so-called thermal fuse is just a piece of solder held by tension between two clips and was added several years ago because one of the vac motors started a fire in a customer’s house. I personally would have no problem just bypassing it as I doubt parts will be too easy to obtain in the future.
Thanks for the reply. I thought seriously about purchasing a thermal fuse on the internet that I could “McGyver” but wasn’t sure what temp i should go with. Some say not to get one that exceeds 250F but it sounds like you’re suggesting to just bypass the thing all together and just connect the two clips (wires)? I only plug it in when I’m using it so I guess it would be safe?
I’ve spoken to several Shopvac customers who have simply bypassed the thermal link altogether, Steve. As you say, you just use the vac when you’re keeping a pretty close eye on it so yes, I would say to just pull the two wires off the link and connect them together. That’s the way the motors were wired for many years. The link was added just to appease the lawyers….
Sorry to hear about the situation for employees at shop vac. I just read about it.
Do you know about the SVX2 motor that was used in the EAL16-SQ650, which is the 5811600 ?
I just wondered if you thought this SVX2 motor was a reliable motor that they were using in their higher end products towards the end and how well they were made, or were they also cheaply made poor quality from the Shenzhen plant?
I would expect that lots of other brands use similar motors anyway, or even the same ones.
As to another topic, I read about the false peak hp advertising claims lawsuit against them. Seems like the nonsense peak hp claims by vacuum manufacturers is commonplace.
This explains a lot (various shop vacuums tested). The cheap Harbor Freight works better, as do most of the others. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSN7PXwn1yU
We are one of the 400+ local families whose day to day lives were turned upside down on the 15th. My husband went to work in the morning, about noon, I got a text saying the company was closing. An hr later came the text saying “today is my last day”. BAM. No warning, no severance , no insurance. 18 1/2 yrs. A week later we’re still searching for insurance to hold us over, until (God willing) he finds another job. Anyone looking for a Cost Analyst? Its not just us though. Manufacturing ended last week, & the warehouses are currently sending out the orders that are ready to go & then they’re done too. There were facilities in the USA,Canada,Mexico, China, Europe,Australia, Vietnam & other places. Personally, we’re just hoping this is the worst news we deal with & that we’re able to get through this & stay afloat.
I am so sorry, and hope he is able to find a new job quickly.
I know where you’re coming from, Connie. I worked for Shopvac for 24 years. When they downsized in Binghamton, I lost my position and started sending out resumes. I was lucky to find a job in my field of expertise before the move to Williamsport. The whole situation sucks big time.
Wow. That’s truly awful – even in “normal” times. But, during a pandemic, even more devastating. I hope you and your family make it through it all without too much anguish and trauma. So many of us are probably closer to sharing your experience than we’d like to admit, or even know. I wish your family good luck, from California.
I started at Shop Vac the same time your husband did and work close with him. His boss at the time was my boss also. I was let go last Dec. 2019 along with others and was not surprised to hear this news about them closing, the writing was on the wall. I’m sure your husband will find another good job.
Ty Woody. We’re hoping. In the meantime, Jersey Shore steel & first quality are hiring & there is a job fair at Liberty Arena in Willamsport on the 7th with 9-noon specifically set up for Shop vac employees.
The company failed because their leadership was poor and their products were worse. I’ve had a few of them and they are cheap junk, have seen lots more thrown in dumpsters. Since they didn’t have to please the stock market parasites who suck the life out of most N.A. manufacturers, they really have no excuse for cheapening the life out of their products, except of course greed!
This is morality in dying societies: grab as much as you can as fast as you can and run off somewhere with it before you get caught.
I’ve seen some 15 years old that run fine. What changes did they make to the motor to shorten the lifespan? Shorter motor brush life?
Lifespan depends on more than the motor, but since you mention it, the motors and I had two 16 Gal. models, both of which burned out for no apparent reason. The brushes apparently disintegrate if they get damp too. We don’t buy Toyotas because they have teams of engineers trying to cheapen the product down to justify their own wages, do we? By the time these clowns have “maximized profitability” by making the cheapest product they can get away with, and of course pocketed some nice bonuses for their “efficiency’, the customer base has figured out the product is crap and gone somewhere else. NO, they won’t come back if you try adding little quality back once your sales start to decline. That all works on graphs in biz school, it doesn’t work in real life. But who cares, we’re here for a good time, not a long time in N.A. management!
What is it that is different about them now compared to 2 years ago that is shortening their lifespan?
I understand the brushes are a factor. They also use a brass bushing instead of a ball bearing on the upper bracket. The lower bearing is actually a sealed 608 ball bearing. The bushing wears down, causing the motor to fail. That is just greed. The company has been acquired by Great Star, but I don’t expect the quality to improve.
Maybe the workers should have bought the company themselves? Start building a quality product and the world will beat a path to your door, especially when you already have brand-recognition (albeit slipping fast) and distribution. Yup, you might have to work overtime and take less money, but in the long term, you may win big. All the money saved on over-paid execs could go into product development and quality improvements.
Oh, and the push button switches were crap too. When you took one of these plastic wonders apart you found a tiny, cheesy little switch hiding under those big buttons, LOL.
Bruce A Crawford
Shop-Vac, which was acquired by GreatStar In December 2020. GreatStar on the SK web site they “will transition a large portion of SK Professional Tools product line to its manufacturing center in Williamsport, PA, in 2022”. What will happen to SK and is it next?
Is it next for what? Shop-Vac’s closures took place before their acquisition.
I haven’t heard of any updates from SK Tools yet, but I know they’re actively working to regain momentum.