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Bigger baskets, more eggs

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You’ll no doubt hear more about the details in the pages of Woodshop News, but the big news this week is that Stanley Works has acquired Black & Decker.

Once upon a time there was a company called Porter-Cable. Also a company called Delta. The two joined in a corporate way when another company, Pentair, acquired both. DeWalt, another name that goes back decades, became part of Black & Decker years ago. Stanley Works, the maker of hand tools that predate my grandfather, grew over the years and acquired or created other companies like Mac and Bostitch. A few years ago, Black & Decker acquired Porter-Cable and Delta, making B&D one of the single largest tool companies in the world, in the sense that their covered brands represent a huge percentage of the tools owned by woodworkers like you and me. My shop is filled with tools large and small with the brands from that one enormous company. Now, with an announcement made this week, Stanley has acquired that enormous company.

That’s almost mind-boggling when you come to think of it.

What will this all mean to you and me when we’re out making sawdust? It’s just too early to tell, and anybody who starts making guesses about what the future holds for all these brands is doing just that: guessing.

It’d be easy to take the negative route on this. Indeed, the chatter on the various woodworking Web sites is already dominated with “clever” but overwhelmingly negative quips from those eager to predict that all the brands will now go down the porcelain fixture. I haven’t seen it yet, but some Trekkie will certainly make comparisons to the all-consuming Borg who assimilates others into their own image. Not this Trekkie.

I guess years of being advised not to put all your eggs in one basket are hard to dismiss, but I prefer to wait and see. The economy is not good. This is not a news flash, nor did you need the media – or me – to tell you this. You’re feeling it everyday, and so are the tool manufacturers. While I have no idea of the driving forces behind this Stanley/B&D merger, if it means that brands like Porter-Cable, DeWalt and Delta are given a new lease on life, then I’m all for it. If the massive new tool conglomerate that is formed improves Stanley and its attendant brands, great. The power of a company this size is tremendous, and if used wisely we’ll all win.

But that is a lot of eggs. Hopefully, Stanley will take Mark Twain’s advice to heart.

Till next time,


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