Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hilka wrench, Japan

I recently picked up this wrench.  It's OK in quality. I'd never heard of Hilka and assumed it was a Japanese manufacturer which, for marketing purposes, had chosen a European-sounding name. So, I was surprised to find out that it's a UK brand. North American tool makers haven't sourced tools from Japan in decades (Taiwan, then China, became cheaper) and I assume the same holds true for Great Britain.  So the wrench was probably made in the 1980's and found its way over here in somebody's suitcase.

According to their own website, Hilka Tools has been around for over 40 years in the U.K.  Headquartered in Chessington, in a borough within Greater London, the company was incorporated in 1982.  Comments on various British web forums are generally positive, but I get the sense that they're economy-priced. They make more than just mechanics' tools, as the picture below from ebay attests.  Their website also includes power tools.  However, I get the sense that they're more a large retailer like Sears in the U.S., and that they source most, if not all, of their production from Asia.

Interestingly, on the tool forums there seems to be a perception that the company has been around in the U.K. for much longer than it has. That's curious in a country which in the same span of time has lost several reknowned British tool companies that had actually clocked a century or more before going under. How soon we forget.

In researching the brand, I was surprised to encounter discussions of so many tool makers which are marketed only in Europe. UK-based tool makers/suppliers include Silverline, Draper, Clarke, Bergen (United Tools) and Sykes-Pickavant.  Only two have deep roots:  Draper Tools has been around since 1919 as wholesalers, and Sykes-Pickavant was founded in 1921.

European tool makers include Teng (Sweden), Kamasa (Sweden) and Unior (Slovenia).

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