Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Diamond's Back! Questions and Answers About the "New" Diamond Horseshoes and Tools

In 2015 the Royal Kerckhaert Horseshoe Company purchased Diamond Horseshoes and Tools.  What had once been the widest-selling shoe and tool line in America (and far beyond) has been getting a new look and, for many products, a new feel and new features. How are things going for the brand, now that the transition to the new owner is complete? Hoofcare and Lameness posed some questions to Farrier Product Distribution (FPD), which we hope will be helpful to everyone who uses--or whose horses wear--the Diamond brand of shoes and tools.

Q. How are Diamond products fitting in for Kerckhaert and Farrier Product Distribution?

A. The Kerckhaert brands have a significant market share in what we consider the mainstream market in the U.S. and Canada. This is the market segment that is largely the professional or active part-time farrier; they buy their supplies from stores that are focused on farrier products.  The Diamond brand had lost its position in that market, compared to the market share it held in the early 1980’s and prior decades. However, they still serviced the DIY markets and the traditional hardware distribution channels that once controlled most of the horseshoe distribution prior to the 70's and early 80's. This acquisition gives Kerckhaert and FPD a strong position in that market and complements the existing lines and distribution. It also adds strength to the FPD and Kerckhaert program with the addition of a well-known brand of tools.

Q. How is the distribution handled – and does FPD have a separate division to distribute Diamond tools and shoes? 

A. Kerckhaert handles all Diamond distribution outside of the U.S. and Canada through their existing customer base in over 75 countries.  FPD manages the distribution in the U.S. and Canada.  Many customers that were Diamond ("Apex" era) customers are FPD customers, as well.  For those customers, we simply added the Diamond products to our existing program and continue servicing them as in the past. 

We set up a separate division, Diamond Farrier Co., to distribute Diamond to the Apex accounts that were not in our program and not in the mainstream market.  We feel there is a distinct difference in the type of markets served and want to avoid changes that would have a negative impact on our core business. We have seen other manufacturers disregard the importance of their mainstream customers in their rush to grow and we don’t want to make those same mistakes.  Diamond Farrier Co. operates with its own management and customer service staff out of our facility in Kentucky. 

Q. What significant changes have already occurred with the Diamond product line? 

Diamond's logo has been
A. There have been quite a few product improvements and we expect the cumulative effect to be quite significant.  The Diamond products had not seen any significant design changes for decades.  The basic dimensions and shapes of shoes are similar; however, materials are better, design – especially the crease, nail placement and punching – has been improved and provides the Diamond user with a better product. 

Kerckhaert is known for their constant effort to improve products and the processes they use in manufacturing. The new shoe production by Kerckhaert has been integrated as old inventory is depleted. We also expect tools to be improved in time – at the very least in the finish and precision the market demands.

One of the changes to Diamond shoes is illustrated by these two photographs of the "before" (below) and "after" nail pitch angle.

Q. Has the acquisition benefited Diamond dealers? 

A. The FPD accounts have realized a direct cost saving benefit from being able to combine their Diamond needs with orders placed for other products. The transition for them was fairly seamless and they also benefit from a more reliable delivery and service level. The accounts serviced by Diamond Farrier Co. recognize the same service levels that FPD customers have come to rely on is in place for them, as well.  Improvements to the service and products have allowed them to be more responsive to their customers’ needs and more competitive against other brands in the DIY market.

Q. Has the acquisition benefited the Diamond user? 

A. The product improvements are the most important benefit for the end-user. However, the improvement in service to the stores, with reliable delivery and fulfillment of orders also gives the end-user more confidence in the brand – and more consistent availability. 

Q: A year later, how do you think the acquisition has gone?

A. We are very pleased with the transition and the positive response we are getting from both the dealers and the end-users.  Farriers are particularly pleased with the improvements that have been made to the shoes to-date and are looking forward to the continued design enhancements planned for both the Diamond shoes and the Diamond tool line.  With the new website – and our outreach efforts on Facebook – – we are able to hear directly from our end-users.  Their feedback is valuable when considering design changes to the Diamond products.

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