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Steel City, alive or dead?

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Forum topic by jac1241 posted 02-27-2017 01:14 AM 810 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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jac1241

2 posts in 293 days


02-27-2017 01:14 AM

Hi everyone, new on your forums and glad to be here.

I recently went to Normand Tools (a local tools distributor) to buy a good column press drill. They proposed me a Steel City 20215, which is a 15” variable speed drill.

I told them that Steel City has turned belly up in 2015 and that I don’t want to spend over $700 on a tool if the manufacturer don’t exist any more. But they showed me a large quantity of new machine tools they have in inventory, like jointers, planers and some industrial woodworking machines. They assured me that Steel City is still manufacturing in Taiwan, and that it is only the American importer of Steel City tools that closed their doors.
Is that true? I’m kind of lost.

Jac1241


11 replies so far

View JayT's profile

JayT

5455 posts in 2049 days


#1 posted 02-27-2017 01:24 AM

The stores I work for were Steel City dealers. If they didn’t close their doors, then my sales rep had to find a new job for no reason and I had to find an alternate line of entry to mid-priced woodworking tools for no reason, as well.

Best guess is that the dealer has a lot of old inventory they need to get rid of, so isn’t being entirely truthful about the situation.

If someone knows differently, I’d sure like to hear about it.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View mrg's profile

mrg

781 posts in 2837 days


#2 posted 02-27-2017 02:45 AM

Website still up but a google search and Facebook indicate they are closed. Fine Woodworking ran article about them closing back in 2015.

-- mrg

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AZWoody

1138 posts in 1061 days


#3 posted 02-27-2017 03:31 AM

I have a few steel city tools and I don’t believe they’re still in business. From what I read, another company actually bought the rights to the inventory being made and has rebranded it under another name. A Canadian company if I recall correctly.

They made decent tools but I was right in the middle of a service issue. One day I was getting replies to my e-mails and the next day, customer service when dead. Then the articles and forum posts started about them going out of business.

View AHuxley's profile

AHuxley

652 posts in 3159 days


#4 posted 02-27-2017 04:20 AM

Let’s assume, arguendo, that the dealer is correct. Where would customer service and warranty assistance come from? I would have simply ask the salesperson to get Steel City customer service on the phone since I wanted them to answer a couple of questions… that would have settled the matter.

I wouldn;t buy a new piece of equipment from a company on life support (like Delta) and I sure wouldn’t buy one from a company whose death certificate was written years ago, unless it was at a VERY steep discount.

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Rick_M

10634 posts in 2218 days


#5 posted 02-27-2017 05:27 AM

Delta is the most stable company out there, they are owned by a large machine manufacturer. You may have them confused with Powermatic which was saved from bankruptcy at the last minute by a firm that chops up companies and sells off the pieces. Although they say that isn’t their intention this time.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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AHuxley

652 posts in 3159 days


#6 posted 02-27-2017 05:46 AM


Delta is the most stable company out there, they are owned by a large machine manufacturer. You may have them confused with Powermatic which was saved from bankruptcy at the last minute by a firm that chops up companies and sells off the pieces. Although they say that isn t their intention this time.

- Rick M

Let’s see, atrocious parts availability, service centers dropping them like a flaming bag of poo, dealers doing the same including the two largest woodworking chains in the US and a catalog of products that is mostly lightweight benchtop tools. If you want a 6” table top jointer or a 13” planer they do have them… maybe.

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Rick_M

10634 posts in 2218 days


#7 posted 02-27-2017 06:01 AM

No one dropped them, it was the other way around. Those old deals were with BD. The real scoop is available if you use that device at your fingertips, or not, I don’t care either way. People who care about the truth find it, those who don’t can’t be convinced and will just keep moving the goal post.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View jimintx's profile

jimintx

512 posts in 1422 days


#8 posted 02-27-2017 07:26 AM

I’m betting on Rick in this trivia game.

And I wouldn’t buy a Steel City machine for anything near “new” price.
,

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View jac1241's profile

jac1241

2 posts in 293 days


#9 posted 02-27-2017 12:48 PM

Many thanks to everybody for taking the time to try to help.

Here is what I know up to now: I’m living in Quebec city, Canada. The biggest machine tools dealer around here is Normand Tools. When Steel City closed their doors, the inventory of Steel City machine tools and spare parts were bought by a Canadian company called Nordis Distribution, which is owned by Normand Tools. Nordis Distribution is a wholesaler of machine tools and their web site is www.nordis.ca The web site of Normand Tools is www.normand.ca

Steel City web site is still alive, and they refer to the tel No 877-724-8665 for parts. When we call that No., Nordis Distribution answers. Steel City is also still active on Facebook (Steel City Tool Works).

Since they closed their doors in 2015, Steel City Tool Works was present at several woodworking shows in Canada, with well equipped booths, always with Normand Tools nearby. Amongst them:

- the 26, 27, 28 of Feb 2016 in Hamilton Ontario, Canada
- from 30th of Sept to 2nd of Oct 2016 in Woodstock Ontario, Canada
- and recently, the 24th, 25fth, and 26th of Feb 2017 in Hamilton Ontario, Canada.
- I think that they also participated at a woodworking show in Montreal last year.

In my opinion there are 3 possibilities that can explain the situation:

a) Nordis Distribution bought the inventory of machines and parts from Steel City Tool Works and is trying to sell that through their distributor which is Normand Tools, saying that Steel City is still alive and knowing that it is false, or

b) Nordis Distribution not only bought the inventory of machines and parts, but also the brand name and the rights to produce Steel City machine tools by an Asian manufacturer, or

c) an Asian manufacturer bought the name of Steel City and the rights to produce Steel City machine tools, and Nordis Distribution is the Canadian Importer.

I tried to dig further, but I’m stuck, I can’t find anything more.

Once again, thanks to everybody

Jac, Quebec city, Qc

View JayT's profile

JayT

5455 posts in 2049 days


#10 posted 02-27-2017 02:08 PM

I don’t know all the ins and outs of the purchase agreement, either. I knew that Nordis bought the parts, but didn’t inquire past that, as anything else didn’t affect my business.

I’d venture an educated guess that either a) or b) is correct. Steel City wasn’t really anything more than a name on Asian import tools, backed up by the American company that spec’d, imported and distributed them. Most of their tools could also be found in nearly identical configuration but different paint jobs under other brands. If Normand bought the name, as well, there is no reason they couldn’t have contracts with the same Asian manufacturing plants to produce them. I have no clue whether or not that is the case, however.

The show situation is easily explained. At least in the US, the manufacturer booths at shows are actually paid for and stocked by a distributor, sometimes backed up by manufacturer reps for support. In this case, Normand probably paid for the “Steel City” booth and stocked it. Whether that was old inventory they need to sell through or newer inventory is the question. See if you can find a date of manufacture on some of the tools on display, whether the tool itself or a part like the motor. That might answer some questions.

You being in Canada makes things much easier. In that case, since Nordis owns the parts business and you would be buying the tool from them, I would have more confidence in having parts and warranty support moving forward. All else being equal, however, I would still look at another brand that has some corporate stability.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View KDO's profile

KDO

154 posts in 2607 days


#11 posted 02-27-2017 04:02 PM

I don’t know Steel City’s situation, but you ought to check out this Jet.
JET JDP-17, 17” Drill Press.
It was designed for woodworkers. It has a 5” spindle travel. The table is a woodworkers dream. It is large and 2 T-track vertical slots. It will tilt side to side.
I have been wanting to get one, but just can’t do it right now.
Check it out.

-- Christian, Husband, Grandpa, Salesman, amateur Woodworker.

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