Five years ago, when Stanley Black & Decker acquired the Craftsman tool brand from Sears, they pledged to focus on USA production.
Here is some of what they said at the time, back in 2017:
We are committed to bringing Craftsman’s manufacturing back to the United States, using materials from around the world…
Stanley Black & Decker will focus on U.S. manufacturing, using global materials…
Stanley Black & Decker also believes it can bring innovation and investment back to Craftsman…
They would “leverage MIUSA expansion.”
They also said they would leverage existing & expand US manufacturing footprint.
They have certainly leveraged their existing US facilities, making utility knives and tape measures at Stanley factories, and metal tool boxes at their Waterloo facilities.
Back in 2008, when still a Sears brand, Craftsman’s catalog boasted that all of their sockets and wrenches were made in the USA.
All Craftsman sockets and wrenches are proudly made in the USA.
Stanley Black & Decker relaunched the Craftsman tool brand in 2018, and I was extremely excited.
Craftsman launched a new line of V-series tools in late 2021, and while they’re fantastic products that seem largely based on Facom designs, they’re not made in the USA.
Three years ago, Stanley Black & Decker announced they would be opening a new tool factory in Texas. There’s nothing about this factory in Stanley Black & Decker’s recent investor materials.
SBD uses plenty of “Made in USA with Global Materials” imagery in their recent annual report, but there’s nothing specific about any new domestic production efforts.
There is one teaser image, showing a mechanics tool set and the suggestion of USA-made ratchets.
Tekton recently announced that more than 20% of their entire lineup is now made in the USA. Tekton sought to reinvent themselves eight years ago, and it looks like they have done exactly that.
Milwaukee Tool acquired Empire Level a few years ago, expanding their USA-based production footprint. Milwaukee is also set to open a USA hand tools factory later this year.
What new USA-made tools has Craftsman introduced in the past five years? Tape measures and tool storage that leverage existing factories and know-how are great.
But end users want more.
Where are the USA-made hammers? Pliers? Professional-grade ratchets? Wrenches?
It has been five years. I expected more.
Yes, things like this take time. But Stanley Black & Decker had planned for Craftsman well before they acquired the tool brand.
At one of Stanley Black & Decker’s last NYC luncheon media events, maybe in early 2012 when Sears was already struggling and rumors were already floating around, a journalist asked a marketing executive if the company would seek to acquire the Craftsman brand. I don’t recall the exact wording, but the presenter made it clear they were watching things closely.
Meaning, Stanley Black & Decker had plenty of time to think about what they would do with the Craftsman brand, and then plenty of time after the acquisition to put things into motion.
What’s on the shelf at Lowe’s? Not USA-made Craftsman wrenches – these were made in India.
Tekton announce what they were going to do, and they did it. Now, they say they’ll expand their in-house manufacturing capacity, and I believe they’ll do it.
Craftsman said they’ll focus on USA production. But they have yet to officially announce how, what, or where.
Two years ago, Craftsman teased that select tools would soon be made in Texas. The pandemic disrupted everything, but we still don’t know what’s coming.
My worry is that all we’re going to see are select entry-price sets that mainly appear for major tool-buying holiday shopping seasons.
Lowe’s Kobalt brand had USA-made hand tools a few years ago, but then they switched. When talking to a product manager face to face, they said they weren’t satisfied with the quality and switched to an overseas OEM that could produce better tools.
Don’t get me wrong, USA-made mechanics tools are a great step in the right direction.
But after five years, Craftsman’s claims of bringing tool production back to the USA seem very under-fulfilled.
I bought USA-made Craftsman hammers, mallets, punches, screwdrivers, wrenches, ratchets, saws, pliers, cutters, tool sets, tool boxes, electrical tools, and more, back when Sears still owned the brand and before they ruined it.
I keep hoping that Craftsman could get back to that. But, I no longer have faith that they will.
Dewalt offered USA-made screwdrivers, but then they were discontinued. Craftsman’s V60 cordless outdoor power tools lineup looks to have disappeared from Lowe’s and other retailers. Dewalt discontinued their 40V cordless outdoor power tool lineup in 2019.
It seems that Stanley Black & Decker abandons products if massive success isn’t assured. Objectively, this is smart.
Craftsman still references V12 tools on their V20 chargers, but no V12 cordless products ever launched. I would presume this is because Stanley Black & Decker doesn’t want to dilute the footprint Lowe’s gives to Dewalt’s 12V Max Xtreme tools. (Craftsman and Dewalt are both owned by SBD.)
I really like Craftsman’s V-series tools, and maybe there’s room here, in this seemingly online-only product line, for USA-made tools.
So, what has Craftsman done over the past five years to boost USA tool production? What are they going to do over the next five years?
What do we have to look forward to? Quarter-pallets of USA-made mechanics tool sets that appear at Lowe’s twice a year for Father’s Day and the winter holidays?
I expected them to do so much by now, and am disappointed at what I’m not seeing.