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1981 FIN – SFM Agrees to Buy Waterbury-Farrel From Textron; Is Number of U.S. Fastener Manufacturers Declining?

June 25
00:00 2009

1981 FIN – SFM Agrees to Buy Waterbury-Farrel From Textron; Is Number of U.S. Fastener Manufacturers Declining?

August 1, 1981 FIN – Waterbury-Farrel, the 110-year-old line of cold headers, has been bought by SFM Corp. from Textron Inc.
“We’ve shaken hands,” SFM president Albert S. Millman told FIN. “Now the lawyers are working on it.”
Millman said he has “some plans for coping with” Waterbury-Farrel’s problems, which include strong foreign competition. Waterbury-Farrel machines will no longer be made at Chesire, Conn. SFM is buying only the use of the name, “a certain amount of inventory,” all sorts of prints, all the customers lists, the jigs and fixtures and tooling. It is not buying buildings or equipment. SFM will combine its Seneca Falls Machine Co. large production lathes building segment based in Seneca Falls, N.Y. and the Waterbury headers into one division. Mark Hariton, president of Hariton Machinery Co. Inc., had put a syndicate together which considered buying the rights to manufacture the Waterbury-Farrel machines. Hariton would have used the Waterbury name on headers manufactured overseas.
Textron, Hariton told FIN, felt they could build more profitable equipment than the Waterbury headers in Chesire. The conglomerate felt that the fastener industry was not a growth industry; that it was, in fact, a declining industry. Waterbury-Farrel, Hariton said, has probably built more fastener machinery over the years than all the rest of the companies combine. “They were the name,” Hariton declared. “But, for whatever the reason, they didn’t keep up technologically. They were building what they called the 316 Hi-Pro, which was probably the most popular fastener machine or cold header that was ever built in the world. But that machine has been built since the late 1930s. There was basically no change in that machine – they just kept building it right up to the 1970s.” Waterbury did increase the speed from 225 pieces a minute to 250 pieces and made other minor changes, Hariton noted.
“When they started to try to catch up technologically, the items they brought out were just not well received,” Hariton reflected. Hariton sells to fastener manufacturers and he told FIN there are more of them in the U.S. than people think. Based on his mailing list he puts the number at more than 1,000. “I would guess that there are probably almost 100 manufacturers in Chicago and Rockford alone,” Hariton estimated.
Further, he does not think the number is declining. “For every company that goes out of business, there are a couple that are opening up – probably on a very small scale.”
“In quantity, I’m not sure there are any less today than there were fie years ago,” Hariton finds. “There are certainly fewer big companies. The fastener industry is certainly not very healthy right no in the U.S. – I won’t argue that with anybody.” One of the things that is happening is more blurring of the lines between distributors, importers and manufacturers, Hariton pointed out. Many of the new manufacturers replacing old manufacturers are firms that started as distributors.
“What happened,” Hariton explained, “is that imported fasteners started to get more expensive or become harder to obtain, forcing them into manufacturing. I have several customers in the Chicago area that started as distributors and now are pretty good sized manufacturers.” Hariton said that Japanese equipment is not moving into the market to the same degree as Japanese fasteners. “The National machine is considered the Cadillac or Rolls Royce throughout the world.”
Hariton imports three lines of fastener equipment, including the Italian Carlo Salvi line of cold headers which is a very high speed machine “not that much less expensive than the National,” Hariton said. The Japanese Asahi-Okuma line, imported by Fastener Equipment Corp, of Homewood, IL, is “considered a pretty good quality line that is also not that much less expensive than National’s.”
Reports that the Japanese are selling headers at one-third the price of National’s are based on some lower quality machines. “You get what you pay for,” Hariton noted. “They are slow and not that well made.”
Speed is the primary interest among buyers – at least those making standards, Hariton said. “If you are giving x number of dollars per hour to a man to run the machine, it takes very little common sense to realize that on standards, it is better to run the machine at 400 pieces a minute than 150 to 200 pieces a minute.”
“We are selling a lot of new high-speed headers to companies that have very outdated equipment. We are getting multiple orders, for six or eight machines at a time. They are replacing whole batteries of machines.” Hariton Machinery is the largest dealer of fastener making equipment in the U.S. – with 95% of sales to the fastener industry, he told FIN. Aside from the imported lines, from Italy, Israel and Germany, Hariton has more than 500 used machines in its inventory. ©1981/2009 Fastener Industry News.
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