Stanley Black & Decker is still working to launch new USA-made Craftsman hand tools.
I recently posted a minor progress update, and as we patiently continue waiting, now seems like a good time to examine what took place over the past 15 years.
What Happened to Craftsman’s focus on USA-made tools?
Luckily, I chronicled the important happenings here on ToolGuyd, making it possible to build a rough timeline of events.
~2007-2008 (15-16 Years Ago) – I started building up my tool kit with many of Sears’ USA-made Craftsman tools. I grew very fond of the brand, thanks to the USA-made tool selection, quality, and value pricing.
I bought screwdrivers, mechanics tool sets, pliers, ratchets, drive accessories, wire strippers, hammers, punches, chisels, cold chisels, mallets, tool boxes, a hacksaw, blades, power tool accessories, pry bars, woodworking tools, and more.
Craftsman was a popular go-to tool brand.
2008 (14 Years Ago) – Sears’ Craftsman tool catalogs proclaimed that “All Craftsman sockets and wrenches are proudly made in the USA.”
Speaking as a tool user, things were great! Craftsman was by far my favorite hand tool brand, and they offered USA-made tools in nearly every category imaginable.
Some of my Craftsman and Craftsman Professional tools were not made in the USA; I bought Craftsman pliers that were made in Germany, and I believe my Craftsman hacksaw was made in Sweden.
2010 (12.5 Years Ago) – Sears started introducing imported Craftsman hand tools: All Craftsman Sockets & Wrenches Are Proudly Made In….
The new products were tools that complemented existing offerings, such as ratcheting elbow wrenches, and also lower-priced offerings, such as dog bone wrenches and universal spline wrenches.
Nothing was being replaced – yet – but, this is when the changes began.
2012 (10.5 Years Ago) – Sears discontinued Craftsman Professional and many USA-made hand tools. At this point it seemed that Sears and Craftsman had shifted their priorities. Nobody could provide any answers, other than to confirm the Craftsman Professional line was being discontinued.
2013 (9.5 Years Ago) – Sears launched new imported Craftsman Professional tools.
Sears was replacing formerly USA-made Craftsman hand tools with similar-looking imported tools. The new versions were widely considered to be inferior.
2013 (9.5 Years Ago) – Sears shifted from USA to import suppliers across many product categories. For instance – FYI: Craftsman Pry Bars Now Made in Taiwan.
2014 (8.5 Years Ago) – Sears describes Craftsman as “America’s #1 brand of mechanics tools.”
2015 (7.5 Years Ago) – a new manager at Sears and Craftsman reached out, and I shared my many grievances about how they hollowed-out the brand. I was optimistic they were serious about making positive changes, but nothing was ever done. What Do You Think About Craftsman and Sears? Your Voice WILL Be Heard!
Many long-term Craftsman tool fans had grown very dejected about the brand.
Craftsman and Sears never followed up.
2017, January (6 Years Ago) – Craftsman Brand Sold to Stanley Black & Decker!
2017, March (6 Years Ago) – Stanley Black & Decker Pledges to Bring Craftsman Tool Production Back to USA
2017, July (6 Years Ago) – Stanley Black & Decker Acquired Waterloo Industries, a USA Tool Storage Manufacturer. Waterloo manufactured most of Sears’ Craftsman metal tool storage products.
2017, October (5 Years Ago) – Stanley Black & Decker announced that they would “leverage existing & expand US manufacturing footprint” and drew focus on their “capability to build upon legacy.” How Stanley Black & Decker Targets Their Tool Brands in 2017, and Other Insider Info
2017, October (5 Years Ago) – Craftsman and Lowe’s announced a new partnership.
2018, April (4.5 Years Ago) – Under Stanley Black & Decker, Craftsman launched their first new mechanics tools.
2018, August (4.5 Years Ago) – Stanley Black & Decker relaunched the Craftsman tool brand.
2019, May (3.5 Years Ago) – Stanley Black & Decker announced a new USA factory for the production of Craftsman hand tools.
2020, March (2.5 Years Ago) – Craftsman teased that new USA-made mechanics tools and sets were “chroming soon.”
2020, December (2 Years Ago) – Craftsman announced that “more top-drawer tools are coming soon” and that they would be covered under a lifetime warranty.
2021, July (1.5 Years Ago) – Stanley Black & Decker had begun hiring machine operators in the region of the new plant.
2021, Fall (1 Year Ago) – Craftsman launched new V-Series tools at Lowe’s. These are premium (imported) tools that strongly resemble tools from Stanley Black & Decker’s Facom and USAG tool brands, which are popular in Europe and other regions outside the USA.
2022, March (9 Months Ago) – Craftsman still had not launched new USA-made hand tools; I expressed my frustration: Five Years Later, Where are Craftsman’s USA-Made Tools?
2022, May (7 Months Ago) – Craftsman said their new facility was built and nearing completion.
2022, November (1 Month Ago) – Craftsman has said their new facility is currently open and operating.
2023 – New Craftsman USA-made hand tools??
Sears had essentially destroyed Craftsman’s USA-made hand tool legacy in the span of just a few short years.
Craftsman started launching new imported tools in 2010. Entire USA-made product lines and categories were discontinued by 2012, and Sears was actively replacing formerly USA-made tools with imported versions in 2013.
I would mark 2012 as the start of very many unwelcome changes that turned many formerly loyal users away from Craftsman.
Sears sold the Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker in 2017, and declared bankruptcy in October 2018.
Craftsman has been under Stanley Black & Decker’s ownership for nearly 6 years now. They launched new tools in 2018 following a major retail agreement with Lowe’s. That was more than 4 years ago.
Craftsman’s new factory in Texas is said to be open and operating, with the first new tools presumably on the way soon.
I would say that, under Stanley Black & Decker ownership and direction, the Craftsman brand has essentially become the stand-in for Kobalt tools at Lowe’s. The tools are decent, conveniently available, and affordable, but there’s little distinction or appeal beyond that.
High quality USA-made tools at competitive pricing is what drew me to the Craftsman brand in the first place, and why I continued to choose Craftsman over all other brands for very many tool purchases.
The Craftsman brand doesn’t evoke the same sentiment in me anymore, and it hasn’t for around 10 years now.
It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few years.
Craftsman didn’t just offer USA-made hand tools, they offered high quality tools with a lifetime warranty, and at competitive pricing.
After Sears reversed course on all that, Craftsman merely offered tools of average quality, little distinction, and at average pricing.
The challenge is in being able to offer USA-made tools that shoppers will seek out to buy. Sears and Craftsman did just that for a long time. Sears and Craftsman didn’t just sell tools, they were the preferred choice of tools for many.
Back in 2014, Sears described Craftsman as “America’s #1 brand of mechanics tools.” After all that has happened, can Stanley Black & Decker get Craftsman back to that? Yes, I believe so. But will they?