AMES Tool School 2014

If anything I am more of a home improvement type guy than I am any sort of gardener, for sure, or even a landscaper. I mean – I use the distinction as a Home & Garden website but I use it pretty loosely. But still I find myself involved with many matters in the yard.

Through the years, I’ve attended media events for some major lawn and landscape brands – *ahem* Pennington Seed and *ahem ahem* John Deere, good timmmmesss. This DESPITE the fact that my own yard is, to put it nicely … pretty much a work in progress. (See: Learning How to Landscape.)

Still I guess I do a good enough job on these trips to get the repeat invites. My latest, and now two weeks ago, to AMES Camp Hill, PA HQ. (You may have known the parent company as Ames True Temper in the past, but see below for info on the recent name change.) I was summoned for an event affably called Tool School.

Bottom line: For my take-away, I learned an awful lot about Shovels. (See: Our Visual Guide to Shovels.) But read on to learn about the AMES brand’s rich heritage.

AMES Tool School Group

Or maybe because I’m sooo photogenic (4th from the left) ala American Gothic

Tool School

Hmmm … Tool School – yep. And while we heard a lot of figures thrown around that day, the one that stuck – AMES, TRUE TEMPER (the hero brands), their budget Union Tools brand, pro-level brands Jackson & RAZOR-BACK, plus all the private label re-branding accounts for something like 90% of all non-powered lawn and gardening equipment found in your garage, in your shed, and on your job site … as well as yours yours and yours.

AMES Companies Types of Products

re-branding labels

Camp Hill, located a short drive west of PA’s capital Harrisburg is home both to the AMES headquarters as well as production for their Long-Handled Digging Tools, Striking Tools & Hose Reels, plus other accessories. While accounting for 16 million units annually, this location is the sorta nucleus for the rest of the company’s production. A Harrisburg plant (which we did not have time for as part of our tour) has been manufacturing Wheelbarrows since 1876 and it is said, produces one wheelbarrow every 6 seconds. A Carlisle,PA Assembly and Distribution Facility (which we did tour) contains something like 2.5 million square feet. In context – a walk of the perimeter of the building is said to be around one mile. Over 19 million tools are produced here annually.

Ames True Temper becomes The AMES Companies 

While I would love to tell you that the day consisting of sessions on how to make shoveling easier or that Building Moxie took home the big prize at the afternoon wheelbarrow races. (Btw -the company is the #1 maker in the world representing something like the 80% of the total market share for wheelbarrows.) Our day rather was filled with tours of these plants, a look at some of their new products and in all ways was underpinned by discussions surrounding a brand revitalization for the company. Our group was privy to the news that didn’t pop publicly till May 6th.


The AMES Companies History

To quote the release, “The leading U.S. and a global provider of non-powered landscaping products. The AMES Companies continues the legacy and equity found in its most enduring brands, applying this to an updated, easily recognizable corporate identity.”

AMES Personality

Central to this is a powerful, unifying and unmistakably recognizable, new AMES logo and colors reflecting the iconic American brand. You’ll immediately notice, as I did, some significant changes, including:

  • A new logo that reflects the time tested and enduring values of the AMES brand.
  • A new visual brand language that includes new colors on the tools.
  • “Est. 1774’ is embossed into all shovel heads, along with the AMES logo, as a reminder of the brand’s longstanding American heritage.

That’s right. Founded in 1774, the AMES® brand is the third oldest brand … brand in the country, and its tools literally helped build America. Among many iconic examples, AMES products built Revolutionary War ramparts, connected the nation via the Transcontinental Railroad, carved Mount Rushmore, and installed the Statue of Liberty. Plus …

AMES Tools Built America

The earliest still existing works of Captain John Ames (a blacksmith) date to 1784. They can be found Ames Archive Collection at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts.

John Ames Ames Archive

We got a look at some early examples that day and of course, how little the shovel has changed.

Antique Shovels

That’s not to say AMES isn’t continuing with innovating. We got a look at several new offerings during our visit.

Karen Richwine, Director Brand Marketing

Karen Richwine, Director Brand Marketing

AMES – Tools that Built America

Continuing Captain Ames legacy, in a way, AMES Tools has a proud tradition of US Manufacturing and Sourcing. They source North American hardwoods, primarily northern white ash & hickory, from mills up and down the Appalachian Trail. 100 percent of shovel heads made in the USA are made with 100 percent USA sourced steel.

Vertically Integrated

Also new to the label – Products with a U.S. flag denote those that are fully sourced, assembled and distributed in the U.S. The manufacturing process is vertically integrated in the U.S.  This includes woodturning, steel forming, steel forging, metal stamping, tempering, welding, injection molding and assembly. Vertical integration gives the company control over process and quality. This in turn allows them to offer a new 15-Year warranty on all AMES Tools and Lifetime Warranty on RAZOR-BACK Tools.

Brand work doesn’t stop with the AMES brand, RAZOR-BACK Pro Tools get a new campaign too. Check the latest videos below, both speaking to history, legacy and tradition.

AMES – Our Tools Built America


The AMES Companies continue to provide a wide variety of top quality lawn and garden tool offerings. This includes long-handled tools, wheelbarrows, hose reels, hoses, snow tools, cutting tools, hand tools, pruning tools, and striking tools as well as outdoor lifestyle products such as planters and outdoor accessories.

AMES Tools that Built America

And that’s about it for me today. Happy Weekend (hopefully spent leisurely in the yard). Look for a really intimate look at shovels and all the work you can be accomplished with them, coming soon.

If you were wondering, AMES Tools, covered no part of my travel expenses.

For more Factory Tours and other adventures, hang around and please don’t forget to leave a comment below. Thanks. jb

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