I came across a sponsored post by SK Tools on Facebook, which celebrates their 100 years of blood, sweat, and gears.
Here’s the caption that goes along with the image shown above, posted on June 7th, 2021:
SK Tools manufactures quality tools for the American technician. From the original Round-Headed Ratchet to the SK X-FRAME® Ratcheting Wrench, we’ve been innovating for American professionals since day one.
Piling on top of many comments left in response to some of their other posts, SK Tools is facing a heap of harsh backlash right now.
First, there have been a lot of recent complaints about delays. Orders aren’t being shipped out fast enough for many of the vocal customers, and some are waiting on responses regarding warranty requests and other types of communications.
Here are some of the recent comments from SK Tools’ customers and fans:
Ryan: Taking a long time to process my order. TEKTON would have shipped my order by now.
Marcus: You people wasted no time in processing my credit card payment. If you can’t ship in a timely manner, please cancel my order so I can get the adapter I need elsewhere. I needed that piece days ago.
Nino: Hey SK I’m not asking for a lot here but can you please please ship my order!
Tim: Numerous phone calls and emails. No reply. Double billed. Horrible horrible customer service.
Dillon: I understand that but you should have got caught up on all the orders from the past month. I been waiting patiently for 3 weeks. Tekton always ships same day or the next at the latest.
Emery: Disappointed in SK right now in your delivery service and can’t even get a reply from customer service.
Timothy: good. but why haven’t i got my wrench i ordered 3/4 months ago
We’re still in a pandemic, and I have experienced shipping and communications delays from a lot of brands and retailers, and so I’d cut SK some slack here. But I would also hope to have seen these concerns and complaints addressed by SK’s social media reps.
The second type of backlash has to do SK Hand Tool’s sale to GreatStar Tools, a subsidiary of China-based Hangzhou GreatStar Industrial.
This one fan’s comment sums up what a lot of SK Tool fans are feeling:
100 years and then you sold yourself to China
But here’s the thing – Hangzhou GreatStar Industrial is a publicly-traded company. Which means YOU could own a piece of the company. I don’t quite see this as SK Hand Tools “selling out to China.”
There are actually quite a few tool brands and companies that are owned by public and privately owned companies based in China.
Personally, I think it’s too soon to make any predictions or worry about SK Tools’ direction.
Regardless as to where a publicly-traded company is headquartered, it’s the leadership and direction that matters.
Consider Milwaukee Tool, which has been constantly expanding their USA efforts and also directing money to grow their USA-based tool brand acquisitions. They are owned by a publicly traded company that’s based in China, but have also been pouring money into the US and supporting an increasing number of jobs across a breadth of categories. Milwaukee is set to open a new USA-based manufacturing facility in 2022, and this is on top of another new factory that is set to start making hand tools.
We’ve got to wait and see what happens, and judge SK and GreatStar on what they do – or don’t do – with the brand.
GreatStar has not yet released any details about their plans for SK Hand Tools. Based on their reticence surrounding other recent acquisitions, they probably won’t share much publicly here either, but SK is also a much higher profile tool brand.
SK has a lot of very passionate customers, and it’s important to remember that although we’re not privy to details, there are definitely reasons behind Ideal’s sale of the brand to GreatStar.
Ideal Industries shut down Western Forge in early 2020. Would anyone have wished the same to happen to SK?
Another thing to remember is that this isn’t something that SK Tools has done, these are changes being done to SK.
Part of me is holding onto optimism that GreatStar will support SK’s USA-based footprint and production efforts, but the other part is bracing for disappointment. We don’t know what the situation has been for the tool brand, but there are reasons why Ideal Industries closed Western Forge and was seeking to sell SK after 11 years of ownership.
It will be interesting to see what happens.