I am looking for good companies for stainless steel.
If you are in a city of any decent size, you should look for either a resturaunt surplus store, or a resturaunt supply store. The former usually buys used resturaunt equiptment after a resturaunt shuts down, and they have very good deals and good stuff. The later supplies resturaunts, and many are also open to the public. They are much, much cheaper than the yuppie boutique stores (Williams-Sonoma and the like), and offer products of equal or better quality.
For pots, you want a stainless clad copper bottom that is fairly thick (All-Clad is a brand, but there are other comparable products). Aluminum is almost as good, and a bit lighter and cheaper. I like Global for knives. Everything else I buy cheap.
I don't put much stock in brands. I would recommend going to your local restaurant supply and looking at what is available and cheap.