Earlier today, I posted about how GreatStar Tools has acquired the Shop-Vac brand.
It seems appropriate to follow up on that post with a quick look at other popular wet/dry vacuum, shop vacuum, and consumer vacuum brands.
As in some other tool industries, you might be surprised to know that many popular brands are not owned by American companies, even if the brands themselves are prominent or based in the USA.
Alton Industries manufactures wet/dry and shop vacuums under Dewalt, Stanley, and Porter Cable branding for Stanley Black & Decker.
Looking on Alton Industries’ website, they mention their USA office, but there is not much information about the company itself. Digging deeper, FCC licenses for Alton Industries vacuum products have been given to Suzhou Alton Electrical & Mechanical Industry Co., Ltd., which is based in China.
It’s hard to say for certain, but it seems that the USA-based Alton Industries is simply a subsidiary of the Suzhou Alton Electrical & Mechanical Industry company.
Bissell is a USA-based privately-owned business.
Emerson: Ridgid, Workshop
Emerson Tool owns the Ridgid brand and their line of wet/dry vacs, shop vacs, and portable vacuums.
Emerson also owns the Workshop brand.
Emerson is a USA-based publicly-traded company.
Flex is owned by Chervon, a privately-owned company based in China. Chervon also owns EGO, Skil, and Skilsaw brands, and also manufactures tools for other brands and private labels.
Shop-Vac is now now owned by GreatStar Tools, a subsidiary of Hangzhou GreatStar Industrial Co. LTD., which is based in China.
TTI Brands: Hoover, Oreck, More
TTI, the publicly-traded company that also owns Milwaukee Tool, owns the following vacuum industry brands:
- Dirt Devil
Vacmaster is owned by Cleva North America, Inc.
As far as I can tell, Cleva North America is based in Greenville, SC, with no foreign ownership ties.
Update: Thanks to James’s comment, we now know that Cleva NA is a subsidiary of Cleva, based in China.
Keep in Mind…
A lot of people automatically criticize brands based on where their parent companies are based, but to me this always seems unfair.
Take Milwaukee Tool, as the biggest example of this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll receive an email or see a comment that amounts to “OMG, did you know they’re a Chinese company? I won’t give money to that.” But in actuality, despite Milwaukee Tool having a foreign parent company (and one that’s publicly-traded, meaning anyone anywhere can own part of it), they invest heavily in their USA-based efforts. Milwaukee Tool has greatly expanded their headquarters over the years, building new R&D and testing facilities over the years. A larger USA-based footprint means more local investments, and more jobs.
In general, it’s hard to know which brands are firmly planted in the USA despite being owned by other companies, and which are simply USA brands with all the major design and engineer work being done overseas.
Consider Dremel. Bosch, a foreign company, acquired the brand in 1993.
Consider Skil and Skilsaw. Emerson acquired Skil in 1979, and then Emerson and Bosch jointly owned Skil from ~1992 to 1996. Bosch solely owned the brand from 1996 until 2016 when Chervon acquired the brand from Bosch.
KKR, an American investment firm, owns Metabo and Metabo HPT, tool brands based in Germany and Japan, respectively.
In the list above, Bissell, Ridgid,
Vacmaster, and Workshop seem to be the only American brands owned by American companies. Most of the others are still American brands, but owned by foreign parent companies.
Keep in mind that many American brands and subsidiary companies operate no differently than if they were solely based here.
In other words, brands’ corporate relationships are interesting, but such information is not consequential in and of itself.