As you might have seen on social media, or from some of our recent posts, Craftsman, now under Stanley Black & Decker ownership, had a big media event last week.
I have been trying to sort out the next couple of posts about the new Craftsman tools that I demo’ed or checked out, but it’s been tough. We spent so little time with the tools that I don’t even have a lot of photos or videos to share, and that’s just talking about the more significant-seeming tools that I tried to have hands-on time with.
There’s a lot to cover.
That being said, there are some key thoughts and details I wanted to share with you, while things are still fresh.
Craftsman is the Perfect Fit for Stanley Black & Decker
Stanley and Black & Decker merged 8-1/2 years ago, back in 2010.
A few months later, I attended a Dewalt media event – my first – and I remember asking someone about how the transition was going. They were working on it.
Stanley and Black & Decker brands have long-since been integrated, and we have seen many cross-brand efforts.
Craftsman, from what I saw at the media event, will be the perfect amalgamation, drawing from nearly every corner of Stanley Black & Decker’s tool brands.
(I’m eager for a line of USA-made industrial-suited Craftsman tools, similar to many of the offerings I purchased from Sears’ Craftsman Professional line before the retailer’s decline. I would especially love to see Proto-quality offerings, or Facom-inspired designs made here, but right now, Craftsman hasn’t revealed their plans.)
Some of the new Craftsman offerings even looked to draw from Irwin and Lenox designs. As you might recall, Stanley Black & Decker acquired Irwin and Lenox in late 2016.
Craftsman is the perfect fit, for anything tool-related that Stanley Black & Decker wants to develop or manufacture. Tool storage? Yes! Hand tools? Yes! Power tools? Of course! Lawn & garden outdoor power tools? Absolutely. Manual outdoor tools, such as shovels and rakes? Definitely. Power tool accessories? Yes, that too.
The Craftsman brand will sit at the heart of Stanley Black & Decker, rooted in every aspect of their tool business, pulling everything together.
Right now, it looks like all of Stanley Black & Decker’s brands are feeding into Craftsman, but perhaps it won’t be long before we see new designs, with some inspiring later innovations and upgrades for the other brands.
Stanley Black & Decker is Increasing their Production Capacity
There are a lot of new tools coming out – a LOT.
Some of those are manufactured by OEM and licensed partners, and many are coming out of Stanley Black & Decker factors which will have to increase production capacity.
I am not surprised that we’re not seeing Stanley Black & Decker-manufactured USA screwdrivers at the moment. Or wrenches. Or ratchets. Or socket sets. Or pliers. Or hammers. It looked like there were some USA-made screwdrivers, resembling Western Forge clear-handle designs.
I don’t know what the future will hold, and for that matter, I’m not perfectly clear about current specifics.
But I can tell you that Stanley Black & Decker is absolutely ramping up production in order to fully support the Craftsman brand. They have to – production capacity has to come from somewhere, unless they sacrifice some of their other brands’ offerings, which they won’t be inclined to do.
And they’re not going to want to lean on other suppliers long-term, at least not for tools that can produce in-house.
Side note – which tool brand(s) do you think Stanley Black & Decker will look to acquire next? I have some ideas. I also think that Stanley Black & Decker’s huge Craftsman launch and support efforts will prompt competitors to consider adding prominent brands or USA manufacturers to their own portfolios.
I spoke with Lee McChesney, President of hand tools, accessories, and storage at Stanley Black & Decker. Among other things, we talked about the percentage of tools that are being made in the USA.
As of Day 1, which I assume meant presently with this Wave 1 rollout, 45% of all the new offers are made in the USA.
The percentage is based on dollar value. This can skew things a little bit. Let’s say that you have one tool box combo that retails for $250, one drill kit that retails for $150, and (20) imported screwdriver sets that retail for $20 each. So that would $400 of USA-made goods, and $400 in imported screwdriver sets, for a 50% ratio. I don’t know if this is how the 45% figure is determined, so for the moment let’s consider it without context.
In 3 years, the percentage of USA-made Craftsman products will increase to 85%.
Again, this is in dollar value, and things might be skewed if you consider that tool storage and power tools might weigh more in the measure than hand tools. But the important takeaway here is that there is a focus on USA manufacturing.
This isn’t a quick marketing stunt, this is a sustained effort and undertaking. They want to produce more tools in the USA, and they’re going to do it.
I don’t have much of a “Craftsman story,” but I bought a heck of a lot of Craftsman tools after doing a heck of a lot of research, spread out over quite a bit of time. I care about the brand, and I want Stanley Black & Decker to do it justice. Not only that, I want them to become MY tool brand of choice again. They’re going to have to work at that, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
The Product Managers and Executives Really Care About the Brand
I couldn’t spend as much time talking to as many people as I would have liked, but the ones I spoke with were really passionate about the products, as well as the Craftsman brand.
This part surprised me a little bit. With Stanley Black & Decker as integrated as it has become, there is an innovations team, but I believe that most product teams are segmented along product categories or brand lines.
For example, I would think that the same team developed Dewalt and Bostitch cordless nailers. Or that a New Britain team (where Stanley is based) developed Dewalt’s screwdrivers.
The people I spoke with were excited about their particular products, but they also seemed genuinely excited about the Craftsman brand.
This is important, because it can define the direction the new Craftsman brand grows in. I don’t think it’s just another “new color” for Stanley Black & Decker to brand their tools in, because I don’t think that’s how they see it.
My Confidence in the Warranty will Take Time
From a conversation I had, Craftsman seems very intent on maintaining a good warranty policy.
But, I have some questions and concerns.
The first night, where there was a wall-full of Craftsman tools revealed at the end of dinner, there was an imported tape measure in retail packaging.
Limited Lifetime Warranty
If a product fails to perform due to defects in the material or workmanship, we will replace it. Proof of purchase is required. Warranty is not transferable.
But in-person, I was given the impression that proof of purchase won’t be required.
I was also told that one could potentially swap a defective Sears Craftsman tool for a 2018 version.
Whatever the final policy will look like, Lowes’ associates will have to be trained to handle all sorts of customer return requests. Many Craftsman owners are used to Sears’ satisfaction guarantee, which was lenient at times, or dependent on the Sears associate.
Craftsman’s website currently says:
Craftsman (or Craftsman Industrial Hand Tool Full Warranty
If this Craftsman (or Craftsman Industrial) hand tool ever fails to provide complete satisfaction, it will be repaired or replaced free of charge.
This warranty does not cover expendable parts that can wear out from normal use within the warranty period.
But it also says:
To obtain the warranty coverage stated below, return the product to the retailer from which it was purchased. Coverage will be fulfilled according to the retailer warranty exchange procedure and may be subject to a limitation on the number of items allowed per exchange.
Has this been updated, or carried over from when Sears controlled the Craftsman.com website?
What I was told in person sounded good, but it will take joint efforts by Craftsman, Lowes, and maybe also Amazon and the other distributor partners, to create and enforce a policy that users can trust and understand.
Speaking as a customer, it will take some time before I’m confident in the warranty exchange policy.
Things are going to be confusing for everyone at first, but hopefully not for long.