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Sutton Tools Benefits From Struggling Supply Chain

Manufacturing in Australia for over 100 years, Sutton Tools not only manufactures its products locally but also produces many of its products across the Tasman, in New Zealand.

Sutton Tools believes tradespeople are more inclined to buy Australian Made products due to their high quality.

During the pandemic and over the past 12 months Sutton Tools used the interruptions to the global supply chain to its advantage by manufacturing considerably more volume within its Australian plants.

Sutton Tools Senior Product Manager Jeff Austin said interruptions to the global supply chain during COVID certainly favored Sutton Tools as many competitors that produce their products overseas faced supply shortages.

“This led to strong growth for us throughout 2020 and 2021. Was this linked to Australian consumers favouring Australian made products more? Potentially, but that is very difficult to quantify,” Mr Austin said.

“As an Australian market leader in the metal cutting space, Sutton Tools understands that its users remain loyal to the brand due to the level of quality we produce which we believe exceeds that of our main competitors. As our production capacity grows in 2023, we will continue to find ways to leverage our industrial quality Australian Made products. This is our competitive advantage,” he said.

While Mr Austin believes there is no question that Australian consumers will opt for locally manufactured goods when given the chance to do so, these decisions are also heavily reliant on domestically produced products remaining market relevant in terms of (retail) price, specification and quality.

“Our market research tells us that Australian tradespeople are more inclined to buy Australian made products to support local jobs. I believe Sutton Tool customers remain brand loyal due to the quality associated with the brand. There is no question a lot of this loyalty stems from the fact that we manufacture domestically,” he said.

Sutton Tools has also found that their customers are happy to pay slightly more for guaranteed quality. In recent focus groups conducted with tradespeople the company found there was a group consensus that trades prefer not to purchase lower-quality products just to save money.

“The downtimes experienced from inferior products ultimately cost them more in terms of time. Accordingly, they choose product performance and reliability over price. However, as mentioned previously, Sutton Tools is very conscious of remaining market-relevant price wise and we continue to invest in manufacturing technologies to ensure our cost base remains globally competitive,” he said.

With all of Sutton Tools’ major competitors producing their products overseas, primarily within Asia, “we believe the level of quality we can produce here exceeds anything they can import. This is and will remain our competitive advantage.”

“Sutton Tools has always been known for its metal cutting tools. Our largest category is our metal drilling products line and we continue to be the benchmark for the metal drilling category for all major, national retailers.”

“For now we are committed to Australian manufacturing for the long term. While certain categories (low volume ones) will never be competitive to produce domestically, we continue to invest in our plants to ensure we will remain competitive well into the future. As our production capacity grows, Sutton Tools will continue to look for opportunities to produce more in-country so we can reduce our reliance on overseas suppliers,” Mr Austin concluded.

This transcript was previously published in Hardware Journal Jan 2023 issue.

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