I have learned that Stanley Black & Decker has acquired Waterloo Industries, and have confirmed that the purchase took place in July of 2017.
Technically, this means that a new Lenox tool storage cabinet, released last Fall and shown above, was manufactured by Stanley Black & Decker in the USA.
A few weeks ago, a ToolGuyd reader replied to our Tool Brands: Who Owns What? post, offering a few updates. They wrote: Waterloo Tool boxes were purchased by Stanley Black & Decker. After a brief search failed to turn up any relevant acquisition news or releases to corroborate the claim, I quickly dismissed it. I considered that perhaps the commenter was mistaken.
Last night, I was listening to an audio replay of Stanley Black & Decker’s Q4 2017 earnings call (available here), which took place on 1/24/2018, and at around the 39:18 to 39:30 mark, there is a brief but unmistakable mention of SBD acquiring Waterloo.
Although Stanley Black & Decker purchased Waterloo Industries six months ago, surprisingly few details have been made public. When a publicly-held company purchases another company, even a privately-held business such as Waterloo, there are typically public filings, press releases, and announcements.
I have come across documents and transcripts related to a US International Trade Commission investigation, in which Jason Stremmel, Global Metal Storage Operations Leader at Stanley Black & Decker, discussed the acquisition.
In one of the more complete transcripts that I have read, there is some interesting discussion about why Stanley Black & Decker purchased Waterloo. At its simplest, the acquisition can be explained by Stanley Black & Decker looking to quickly establish a USA manufacturing capability for retail-focused metal tool storage products.
Stanley Black & Decker has large and successful industrial tool storage capabilities, tied to their Vidmar, Lista, Proto, and Mac brands.
Waterloo has been a strong Craftsman brand partner, manufacturing many metal tool storage products for Sears over the years.
If you recall, Stanley Black & Decker purchased the Craftsman brand from Sears, and have also pledged to bring much Craftsman tool production back to the USA.
Stanley Black & Decker has made several other announcements recently, such as finding retail partnership support at Ace Hardware, Lowes, and Amazon, covering hardware, home center, and online retail channels.
They have also discussed the scale of what they’re currently doing ahead of launching the first new Craftsman tools and products. The capacity to design and then manufacture all of the new SKUs that are being planned will require immense production capacity, with demand expected to exceed supply for quite some time.
Acquiring and potentially investing in Waterloo Industries should give Stanley Black & Decker and the new Craftsman brand greater control and flexibility in how they produce metal tool storage products for the retail market, and without relying as much on outside partners.
I think that this could also allow for more innovations and a faster response to changing market trends and customer preferences.
We have seen very compelling well-featured and aggressively-priced tool storage products from Milwaukee Tool, Home Depot’s Husky brand, and even Lowe’s Kobalt brand. Recently, Kobalt came out with a wall-mounted charging station that seems to have been quite popular.
Milwaukee, Husky, and Kobalt, among other brands, have been releasing new tool storage products at a surprisingly fast rate.
Craftsman and Sears were leaders in the metal tool storage retail market, a position they might have lost in recent years due to Sears’ decline. It is likely that Stanley Black & Decker aims to restore Craftsman’s market share, a task that could be easier thanks to the Waterloo acquisition.
I am very eager to see what Stanley Black & Decker has in store for Craftsman, Waterloo, Irwin, and Lenox, all brands and businesses they have acquired in recent years.
Although Stanley Black & Decker has been unexpectedly quiet about their acquisition of Waterloo Industries, they have not been idle. We have already seen one new metal tool storage product, the Lenox rolling workbench released for the 2017 winter holiday shopping season, and are almost guaranteed to see another new product as Father’s Day 2018 approaches.
Will we see Waterloo-made tool storage products from other SBD brands, such as Irwin? Dewalt? It seems that the primary intent is to maintain the strong connection between Waterloo and Craftsman. But with metal tool storage products, it seems to be quite easy to modify configurations, colors, badges, and certain features to produce similar but distinct-enough products.
A quick search online shows there to be Stanley Black & Decker job openings in Sedalia, Missouri, where Waterloo Industries is based. Is this part of potential SBD expansion plans, or coincidental job openings?
Stanley Black & Decker is clearly looking towards securing future growth and expansion potential. How will competitors response? The next few years will surely be interesting.