It could be said that Ames True Temper is at the root of all lawn and garden tool manufacturers in the US. Tracing its history to 1774, the firm was founded as a shovel maker by John Ames. Today it's one of the largest suppliers of non-powered yard equipment in North America. Its product portfolio includes long-handle tools, planters, pruning and striking tools, wheelbarrows, hoses and hose reels, and snow tools. Products are marketed under the Ames, True Temper, Hound Dog, Jackson Professional, Razor-Back, and Union Tools brand names. They are sold in North America, Europe, and Australia via mass merchandisers, wholesalers, and distributors. Ames True Temper is owned by plastics maker Griffon Corporation.
Up until fall 2010 Ames True Temper had been controlled by affiliates of Castle Harlan. Griffon Corporation acquired Ames True Temper for more than $540 million. The deal, mostly funded by a $500 million loan and some $75 million in cash, is expected to boost Griffon's earnings and cash flow in 2011. Castle Harlan also profited from the sale, as the company originally paid $380 million for Ames True Temper in 2004.
In the US, Ames True Temper relies on retailers in the home center and mass merchandiser industries, such as Home Depot, Lowe's Companies, and Wal-Mart. Griffon bolted Southern Sales & Marketing on to the tool maker in late 2011. The $23 million deal for the Southern Patio brand name pots and planters business enhances the Ames True Temper portfolio of landscape accessories. Fueling Ames True Temper's global potential, Southern Patio brings offices in the US as well as China, Taiwan and the Dominican Republic. In the same acquisitive spirit, Ames True Temper's Australian unit in 2010 scooped up certain assets of West Barrows Mix Pty, including the Westmix and Kelso brands, as well as manufacturing facilities in Australia, for about $12.7 million. Westmix manufactures wheelbarrows, cement mixers, hand trolleys, compactors, and bricksaws.
The slowdown in demand, however, forced Ames True Temper in late 2009 to shutter its distribution center in Kentucky. It maintains two distribution facilities in Nevada and Pennsylvania, as well as international distribution locations in Australia, Canada, and Ireland. Ames True Temper also uses a third-party distribution center in Mexico. The company points to its leaner supply chain, which helps to deliver products more quickly and cheaply.
A series of name changes have accompanied Ames True Temper's growth. It hung out its shingle as The Old Stone Forge in 1808. It later became The American Fork and Hoe Company. In 1949 the company was renamed True Temper to reflect the process of tempering steel. The Ames and True Temper Companies merged in 1999. – less