Via an Irwin webpage, you can learn all about the holiday they proposed back in 2011 – a National Tradesmen Day to celebrate America’s working men.
(September 20th, 2013 will be the third anniversary of Irwin’s tradesman day.)
In a message to tradesmen, Irwin says they’re doing this “to celebrate all that you do to keep our country running strong. It’s our hope that the entire nation will celebrate with us.”
Yes, America’s tradesmen should definitely be celebrated, but is that really Irwin’s motive? Or are they just trying to sell more tools?
The proposed logo for such a National Tradesmen Day features a hand grasping Irwin Vise-Grip pliers, which are currently being produced overseas.
I still haven’t forgotten how Irwin closed their Vise-Grip factory in DeWitt Nebraska several years ago. If they really cared about celebrating American tradesmen, they could have kept manufacturing facilities in the USA instead of sending them overseas to China.
That said, there are a lot of Irwin tools that I am quite fond of, including imported quick-release Vise Grip locking pliers I purchased a few years ago. So don’t get me wrong, I am actually very fond of the brand, I just don’t *get* this holiday. It’s like the beef industry proposing a National Have a Steak holiday.
Reminder: this month Lowes is running a special where you can swap in any tongue and groove pliers for free Irwin Groovelock Pliers.
So what do you, America’s tradesmen, think about this? Do you feel celebrated by this commercial holiday?
This post was originally published 2/13/2011 and was edited and republished on 9/9/2013.
I think it’s disgusting.
Irwin recently disabled the ability to comment on their self-serving ads posted on youtube due to the overwhelming response of viewers taking them to task over the sheer hypocrisy of their invoking the “hard-working American hands” of the very same workers they sold down the river when they moved production of an iconic American brand like Vise-Grip to China.
I will NEVER buy an Irwin tool.
I’ll let them know with my wallet. Irwin will continue to get nothing from me. They used to get quite a bit of my business. They will again, when they move production back to the states.
Perhaps the problem lies within the USA and not Irwin and every other company that is fleeing the country. Too many rules and regulations. Why does the land of the free and home of the brave require so much government? This is no longer a country that lets you enjoy the fruits of your own labor. Once you achieve the American dream the government steps in and takes it away.
I don’t recall hearing about any brand shifting manufacturing overseas because of government rules and regulations; the most common excuse is “to lower costs to be able to maintain competitive pricing.”
I would think that the main reason to outsource is for the much cheaper labor costs, but I could see how government/EPA restrictions could affect profit margins as well. In the USA, regulations meant to protect workers, the environment, and community drinking water supplies, means that certain chemicals or processes aren’t allowed to be used anymore. It’s fair to say that not all contracted overseas factories in developing nations adhere to such regulations.
Aside from this example, I can’t think of any reason how “too many rules and regulations” could drive US manufacturers to close up shop in favor of outsourced manufacturing.
In the US, we have had rules that protect the environment, rules that protect workers, rules that protect consumers, and a middle-class that resulted largely from fair dealing between management and unions, fair wages, good benefits, and retirement programs. But multinational corporations have only one goal: profit. They’ll shift production to anywhere they can find with the lowest labor costs, because in the short-term balance-sheet CEO-bonus world, they make more money if they can externalize many of the costs of production (that means they don’t bear any of the costs of air and water pollution, worker safety, and consumer safety). But mutlinational corporate propaganda makes many Americans blame American workers (themselves) and our government. Ironically, all the government has done for the past 30 years is to do what their corporate campaign contributors tell them to do, which is to shaft citizens of this country.
And we let the companies continue with this hollowing-out of the nation. Calling them out on their hypocrisy, and not buying their products, are two of the only things we can do to try and change things.
I don’t agree with what they do, or any company when they send their things over seas. But WE the comsumer are to blame mostly. Sure everyone says they will pay a couple bucks more for American made goods, but when it comes to putting money where the mouth is, people are always looking for deals. If they can get a set of drill bits for 10 bucks or 15 bucks, 9 times out of 10 they will go for the cheaper one. Same with TVs, Car, Clothing, Refridgerators, you name it.
If a company like IRWIN, or DeWalt or whom ever, lowered their prices to meet the consumers shopping habits, they would have to lay off people to keep the wages high and competitive. And if they started doing that, everyone would be up in arms about that.
Sure the fat cats make a boat load of money but guess what, so does everyone else.
But at the end of the day, as long as we shop the way we shop, we force companies to do what they do. Don’t complain when the price of something goes up a couple of bucks, just accept it. Don’t buy something then use it and take it back to the store when you’re done.
I haven’t bought anything from them since they killed off the Peterson plant in Dewitt, NE. New ones from China cost the same, feel inferior and add nothing to our economy. Irwin is garbage in my opinion.
Irwin is one of the brands owned by the Newell-Rubbermaid conglomerate. If you read the story of what happened to Rubbermaid and its sale to arch rival Newell – it will provide some insight into the transformation of consumer product manufacturing from US-based facilities to overseas plants. It’s a tale that includes the influence of big box stores like Wal-Mart and relentless pressure to reduce prices to meet customer demand. If you think this only happened to US consumer product manufacturing – think again. The Irwin-Newell-Rubbermaid brands like Record and Marples – once proud English manufacturers of woodworking tools have more recently been affixed to a mixed bag of Asian-made tools. As other’s point out – the Petersen Vise Grip factory in Nebraska – was came first, then the Petersen family formed American Tool which then bought out Irwin in 2002 – with all of this being acquired by Newell-Rubbermaid in 2003 and then somewhat later moved offshore. I suspect profits are at the core of all of these moves – and some might argue that both the parent (Newell-Rubbermaid) and their Irwin (American Tool Companies), Lenox (American Saw & Manufacturing) , BernzOmatic, Shur-Line and Pelouze Subsidiaries all need to fight for profitability in an global economy. While jobs at the Atlanta based parent company support the US economy – manufacturing elsewhere does more to support Asian growth.
id never buy an irwin tool PERIOD…. besides the fact that the rubber grips suck,theyre a sell out to the u.s & i wont support that
and sam, your comment is ridiculous & if you beleive that, your probobally buying chiwan crap guilt free…..
Fred, thanks for that bit of insight! I remember reading something about Walmart forcing Rubbermaid to greatly reduce prices or risk being de-shelved.
I have seen USA-made Rubbermaid products recently, so they didn’t shift all production overseas.
here’s the link for the downfall of Rubbermaid story, it’s chapter 2 from the PBS Frontline Series. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/video/flv/generic.html?s=frol02p71&continuous=1
The whole thing is worth a watch.
kevin, thanks for posting that.i saw that on tv & was shocked.i never shopped at walmart anyway & when i saw that,it sealed it. everyone needs to watch that & then justify shopping at wal mart
Seriously? What kind of truck do you all drive? What kind of power tools do you use? If you think you buy anything that is truly made in the great USA think again! We all purchase products that are made overseas and if you think you buy something that is made in America, I would bet half the parts in your American made truck have been manufactured in other countries. It is a fact of life. I know how you all feel, but being a mason for the last 20 plus years I can say as teachers and secretaries have their days, why cant I? I love it when people say thanks for what I have done. Seeing a smile on the face of a home owner that I build a wall for, a fire pit or a stone patio. When a company wants to say thanks, I will take it and feel damn good about it.
Sure their job is to make and sell tools, but I dont see Stanley ever recognizing my work, or Dewalt giving two hoots about the work I have done. I believe as self serving as this is it is a nice jesture. I am proude to be American and the work I do everyday, what I am not proud of is my fellow tradesmen that wine when a pair of pliers is made in another country. It all comes down to the job you are able to do and how well you do it. Man up people and accept the gratitude some people want to show us and not worry about the decision others have to make. If you buy Irwin tools its your decision, if you dont its your decision. Think of it like this, when you are finished with a job, if a customer is not happy with your work, do you just say what the hell? Do you walk away “guilt free”? I know I take pride in my work and that is the point of all this, not where the tools are made? I think think their tools are ok, do I buy them? Sometimes I do, sometimes I dont, but I do know some of the tools I need that they make here in the USA like step drill bits and other great products.
Obviously, this makes me mad, partially because of the overseas issue, but more so because my fellow tradesmen pitch a fit over something so insignificant as this and not say here is a company that might understand what I do!
Please note that it *appears* Bor submitted his comment from a computer traced to a Newell Companies Inc. facility. As you may know, Newell is Irwin’s parent company, so we’re going to investigate this before drawing any conclusions.
Update: the commenter is an Irwin associate, and has said that the comment was written by and submitted on behalf of a tradesmen family member that authored it.
Very sad about Irwin closing there plant in Nebraska, the USA made Peterson vise grips were a very good quality product, unless a tool is specifically marked Made in USA I won’t buy it. Yes there are still quality tools that are mostly Made right here in the US, Channellock, Klein,Snapon, Matco, some Craftsman, Eklind, Wilde, Mayhew, Estwing,Vaughan,Proto, Sk, some Mac, Dasco Pro, Wright, Lisle, some Cornwell and more. In the US if a product is stamped “Made in USA” it has to be ALL or Virtually ALL made here in the USA that includes the materials and assembly. But watch out other countries have much less stringent regulations about there COO requirements, for instance in Germany a tool can be stamped made in Germany if only 10% of the total production process takes place in Germany, most German products are actually manufactured in Asia and then only assembled and/or designed in Germany.
Globalization is upon us in the US , the economy is down and sadly it seems now a days very few people will pay for quality. Take Craftsman for instance they have cut back or just plain discontinued much of there USA made Professional line which was actually very good quality and although higher priced they were still very reasonable for the quality. But when you put that higher priced higher quality tool next to a lesser quality tool that is cheaper the majority of consumers could care less and will buy the cheaper quality tool just to save a few bucks Now. We unfortunately live in a world where everything is disposable.
Combine that with huge tax increases and major Government spending along with unions who would rather strong arm the business’s that feed them and there members than come to the table and be reasonable and do what’s best for everyone involved. And Yes over regulation is a huge problem effecting business’s all over this country.
I’ll be the first to state that I find this “event” very hypocritical. As if Irwin sincerely cared about American tradesman, they wouldn’t have eradicated the Nebraska Dewitt manufacturing plant and sent all the work to China.
Unlike some people who merely complain about the lack of American manufacturing, I do my part to support this the best I can and to be honest, I will NEVER buy ANY Vise Grips that aren’t American made. Irwin can pay their actors on their videos and people to leave comments, but fact of the matter is, their present day foraged in China locking pliers will never ever come close to original quality of American made Vise Grips.
But I will ask this, if Irwin is so proud of their products and think they are better than the competition, why don’t they list the country of origin of all their tools on their website? Surely a company who think they are top dog wouldn’t be afraid with sharing detailed information on their products.
I agree, it’s nice to thank the talented tradesman in America for their hard work and the awesome end results that come with this. But Irwin, I don’t think you care at all.
If only we could convince Wilde to start making locking pliers.
Noah, they did for a while back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but apparently if I remember correctly, those were re-brands for Petersen manufacturing.
However, in 2010, Wilde sold all their remaining stock of locking pliers to Harry J Epstein and these have been sold out for several years.
However, I have seen factory sealed 1980’s Wilde locking pliers on eBay though. I hate to say that, but if you truly want Wilde locking pliers, eBay is the only place I have ever purchased them from and even found any.
As sad as this sounds, I don’t truly expect that any manufacturer will ever create American made locking pliers again. Locking pliers are equitable to most electronics, at one point these were American made, but for the most part, not anymore.
Hard to believe that companies such as Klein, Crescent, Proto, Stanley, Craftsman, to a certain extent Leatherman, Dunlap used to manufacture these in the United States. Not anymore, either they stopped manufacturing these tools entirely or sent them over to one location.
Aside from Harry J Epstein, eBay, pawn shops and some other small businesses, your choices for locking pliers that aren’t made in China are between Grip-On, Knipex and last I checked Proto.
I believe that Petersen was making locking pliers for most everyone at one point, which is why USA made locking pliers have become so rare after the factory closed.
The reason I mention Wilde is that I have heard from various sources that they bought Vise Grip equipment from the Petersen factory when it closed.
Noah: That I can believe, as before Rubbermaid bought out American Tools, they used to sell their locking pliers to specific industries so they could modify them for job specific work. Such as with the welding industry and several others.
However, these tools can only typically found on eBay and the prices often are not cheap in the least. But these are very specific tools, so your average consumer probably wouldn’t know what to do with these.
As for Wilde acquiring the original Vise Grip equipment, according to Steve at Epstein’s that isn’t a rumor, but is indeed true. However, even though that is true, there is no telling if Wilde will ever use that equipment to create locking pliers again. Might not be possible either, as even if they have the metal to make American made locking pliers, they still need a set screw and a spring as well.
Finding either that are American made would be quite the challenge as those were outsourced long before Irwin outsourced their products.
Had a conversation with a person at Armstrong in regards to their locking pliers that are made in Taiwan they tried to contact multiple manufacturers and they weren’t able to find anyone that manufactured any American made locking pliers/parts.
But you are quite correct with 100% American made Petersen/American Tools Vise Grips being rare when Irwin completely shut down the Dewitt Nebraska plant. That is why, at times, these aren’t cheap on eBay, as these sellers know that only people buying these are typically those who care about country of origin and know Petersen/American Tools locking pliers are built to last a lifetime.
It’s funny that you give Irwin a hard time about making there stuff in China. But, at the same time you love Milwaukee Power Tools and Bosch. Both are not even amercian owned companies. It’s pretyy funny .
I give Irwin a harder time because they disappointed me more. I give Craftsman and Apex Tool Group a hard time too over their outsourcing practices as well.
Milwaukee and Bosch didn’t close down long-standing US factories in order to lower costs and cheapen products. Right after the switchover, imported Vise Grips were not as well built as USA-made ones.
Milwaukee did make a couple of power tools in the USA, but not anymore, and I am still a little sore about that, but not terribly. Bosch and Milwaukee tools made overseas have performed exceptionally well in my experience, regardless of where they’re made.
I ordered a couple of Vermont American taps a few weeks back (Bosch owns them), and instead of being made in the USA as advertised they were made overseas. I sent them right back to Amazon and ordered USA-made taps from an industrial supplier.
No brand is safe from being given a piece of my mind.
Sounds like brand bigotry, its not where its made that matters, its how well its made. I rely on brands that have proven they can make quality in whatever country they choose too produce it in. If Nike made shoes here we would be paying twice the price we do now with no better qulaity. Labor rates vary around the world based on the standard of living, it doesnt have anything to to with their abiltiy to produce quality. Country of origin markings are not even required in most countries, that stupidity is reserved for us here in the USA.
How well a tool is made is more important to me than where a tool is made. Sending tool production overseas does not automatically mean quality goes down, but in the case of Vise Grip locking pliers, there have been complaints of a difference in quality between USA-made and newer imported versions.
I bought a large set of imported Irwin drill bits a few years back, and the quality was terrible. I have since tried other Irwin bits, most imported, and the quality was fantastic.
When tool manufacturers outsource tool production to cut costs, tool quality will sometimes drop, even unintentionally, due to lower quality materials, but the lack of experience might come into play as well.
I’m not experienced with tool manufacturing processes – but I suspect that there are both machine and hand processes involved in the initial production, then finishing and/or assembly. These steps may all have points where quality can be negatively impacted (say worn broaching machines producing sloppy tolerance on wrenches or poor final finishing of that same wrench) If low production cost is the only goal then QA/QC may be overlooked, worn production machine parts not replaced in a timely fashion, variability of the finished product to some standard ignored etc. This can happen in any country but one would hope that vendors who stand behind the quality of their products would take steps to remedy these conditions (or find different OEM’s ). I’m reminded that at one point in time “made in Japan” was synonymous with shoddy goods. Deming, TQM, Kaizen and several years of effort turned much of that around for many (but probably not all) goods produced in Japan. I’m also reminded of the quality – or lack thereof of some of the autos produced in “Detroit” in the 1970’s which I believe did as much to spur the growth of the Japanese auto business as did lower price.
So I think that – once we get beyond inherently poor production processes – then quality is not so much to do with the country of origin as it has to do with the goals of the manufacturers and vendors of the products and how those entities adhere to their goals.
So less information is better ? Why is COO information “stupid” ? Am I “stupid” for wanting to know ? Our relationship with China is unsustainable. You can’t have a trading deficit with anyone long term without someday they own you.
I am generally fine with anyone but China. I will gladly pay more for something made ABC. (Anywhere But China) Totally regardless of quality.
I’m often reminded of the quote ” Buy American, or By By America.”
Shame on these “American” company’s sending jobs over seas and then selling “American” products.
Bye bye united states and all who support New World Order !!!