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Steel City, alive or dead?

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Forum topic by jac1241 posted 02-27-2017 01:14 AM 6917 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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jac1241

2 posts in 903 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


23 replies so far

View JayT's profile

JayT

6236 posts in 2659 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.

-- https://www.jtplaneworks.com - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View mrg's profile

mrg

860 posts in 3447 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

1456 posts in 1672 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

874 posts in 3769 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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Woodknack

12866 posts in 2828 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.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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AHuxley

874 posts in 3769 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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Woodknack

12866 posts in 2828 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.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View jimintx's profile

jimintx

917 posts in 2032 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

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jac1241

2 posts in 903 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

6236 posts in 2659 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.

-- https://www.jtplaneworks.com - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View KDO's profile

KDO

154 posts in 3217 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.

View 2100HPS10's profile

2100HPS10

1 post in 196 days


#12 posted 02-02-2019 12:39 PM

I have a Jet JDP-20MF drill press and it’s great. I’ve had it for about 10 years and no problems with it.

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

1618 posts in 1942 days


#13 posted 02-02-2019 08:53 PM

Never in a total jam for machine parts, as can always contact the actual mfg in China. Used to be only way to find the overseas suppliers was by tracking down the export trader or middle man, plus in country visits. We live in very small world these days, thanks to internet.

One of the Chinese suppliers making equipment for Steel City trade marked name is:
Laizhou Huibang Machinery Trading Company, or
https://huibangmc.en.alibaba.com/?spm=a2700.details.cordpanyb.1.517e1a14jBkiyL
They are definitely still in business in China. Though production might have dropped lately due tariffs, and supply lines moving to back to Taiwan (or other cheap steel places). They make all kinds of white/blue, off white, olive green, bright green, and several shades of gray painted wood working equipment.

In same mfg complex is: Laizhou Sanhe Machinery Co,
https://sanhemc.en.alibaba.com/?spm=a2700.icbuShop.88.27.6dc3546eLZmwhj
They focus on sub-set of equipment from other company. Can buy Sanhe branded tools in Asia.

These folks had Steel City branded products on display in trade show booth I attended while in Asia few years before original Steel City importer closed in 2015. Challenge with information about old Steel City is that Nordis Distribution may now be using a different company in the Taiwanese/Chinese made Wood working equipment supplier roulette wheel.

FWIW – Asian equipment sourcing is spider web of mfg and trading companies.
There are many suppliers that compete for wood working equipment contracts, all making the same tools to same drawings for different OEM’s. Some folks change PN as they change sources and some don’t. Why do think Harbor Freight has 6 PN’s for same flashlight? Hardest part is figuring out which one is producing which tool, for which OEM. It’s sort of a shell game.
Really common tools like a low end drill press are harder to find mfg, as so many tool mfg have made drill presses. Although BestTech Industrial is large metal working equipment supplier that produces drill presses for many folks.
When I contacted Geetech for parts on 20 year old jointer, they told me to contact Accura machine tools, as they import same model today, and stock some parts in US. hehe

PS – When get a new tool, be sure to capture pictures of any/all shipping labels, and text on out side of boxes/crates. As part of import process, every crate needs to have an origin label. It is much easier to find who made your tool, after translation of labeling.

Thanks for reading.
Best luck on equipment purchase decision!

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

792 posts in 3241 days


#14 posted 02-03-2019 05:38 PM

Is there really a stable wood machine company these days? Powermatic bankrupt? Who’d have seen that coming? I have a Steel City drill press, 17”, model 20525, it has a 6” travel, and infinitely variable speed. No problems, but I am not an industrial user. I am not afraid of Steel City if the price is right.

View Gentile's profile

Gentile

342 posts in 2266 days


#15 posted 02-03-2019 06:12 PM

Way before Steel Cities troubles, I bought a Bessimeir clone table saw fence from them, it works like a champ.
Aren’t they the company that made table saws with the stone table?
I’ve always wondered how those worked out…

-- "I cut it twice and it's still too short"

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