A couple of weeks ago, Hitachi Power Tools had a small gathering at its headquarters in Braselton, Ga., to share a major announcement: After careful planning and a lot of research, it is changing its name to Metabo HPT.
In November 2015, Hitachi Koki Co. Ltd. purchased Metabo in a deal valued at approximately $180 million dollars (22.1 billion yen). Then, in March last year, the investment firm KKR announced its plan to purchase Hitachi Koki Co. There is a name change – or should I say “changes” - happening in Europe already: the Hitachi Power Tools name will become HiKoki – a derivative of Hitachi Koki Company’s new name (Koki Holdings, effective June 2018) and Hitachi. The changes are all being driven from top brass with the intention of aligning brands and improving brand recognition.
Why change the name in North America? Given that the Hitachi Power Tools name is going away in Europe, its parent company, Hitachi Koki/Koki Holdings, decided that the change needed to happen here in North America as well. To that end, and after significant research, the company decided that the change would be best if it aligned with a known name; since the company already owns Metabo, its name became the base name for the change. Now, this shouldn’t be confused with the idea that Metabo and Hitachi are merging; they are not. According to Hitachi Power Tools, the two brands will remain separate. Adding “HPT” to the Metabo name is meant to distinguish the two brands and to make it easier for consumers to easily differentiate the brands.
In its press release, Hitachi Power Tools said:*It is important to note that as Hitachi Power Tools changes their name in the North American market to Metabo HPT, the original Metabo brand headquartered in West Chester, PA will remain. These two distinct brands, Metabo HPT and Metabo, are part of the parent company, Hitachi Koki Co., Ltd (scheduled to change the name to Koki Holdings Co., Ltd in June 2018) that partnered with leading global investment firm KKR from April 2017.
What will change?
Pretty much, nothing other than the name. The tools will maintain the same color scheme and same model numbers throughout (though the Metabo HPT versions will likely have an added character(s) to help with inventory as the transition happens). Everything else will be interchangeable. So the Hitachi Power Tool batteries that you currently own will definitely interchange with future Metabo HPT cordless tools, which means there’s no reason to hold off on purchasing any Hitachi Power Tools until the change happens; it’s not going to make a difference.
Not to beat a dead door nail, but the only difference between any of the tools will be the name on it. In Hitachi’s words: Products will retain current brand identity: same color, same model numbers, same warranties and the same battery interchangeability. They will be made by the same people, in the same factories, with the same specifications and focus on innovation that customers have come to expect.
There’s already speculation on social media that the change will impact consumers or could potentially impact quality; nothing can be farther from the truth. If you own any of Hitachi’s power tools, the warranties will remain intact. The company isn’t changing, the employees aren’t changing, the North American headquarters in Braselton, Ga., isn’t changing. It’s only in the name.
When will this name change happen?
You can’t simply swap out a name on a major brand overnight. The change will happen over the course of time. According to Hitachi, the transition will begin in September 2018 with the initial release of its MultiVolt tool line. MultiVolt will offer 36V capacity in the new 36V tools, but the batteries will work in 18V tools, as well, with some increased performance and runtime. Then, after December 2018, the existing power tools will begin to switch over to the new branding. So, beginning in September 2018, you will see Metabo HPT tools alongside Hitachi Power Tools in stores for a while.
A word from Metabo about the change:
Metabo sent out a press release that states:
"This change reflects the new partnership with KKR. This does not affect the original Metabo brand at all. The original Metabo brand is well known as a supplier of professional tools for industry and craftsmen. Metabo is famous in the US market for its range of outstanding angle grinders which are recognized as the industry’s best in terms of power, productivity, durability, quality and safety. They’re also a worldwide leader in battery technology with the LiHD platform. The Metabo brand will continue to focus on Industrial Metalworking, Building Trade and Renovation, MRO, Concrete finishing, welding supply markets and does not sell its products through the home centers. Sales forces and marketing initiatives will be kept separate, as will the company headquarter in West Chester, PA."