I’ve heard from a few of you (thanks!), about Craftsman tools coming to Lowes stores, and it looks to be true. However, there is almost no information about this that I can find, and I’ve looked hard.
There’s a Lowes social media mention, and a blog post that says the following:
We’re welcoming a top brand to Lowe’s – look inside our tool box!
We are thrilled to welcome Craftsman to Lowe’s!
When it comes to tackling home improvement projects, the tools you use matter.
Starting in second half 2018, you will be able to find the Craftsman brand across a wide-range of product categories at Lowe’s.
Craftsman products will be available at Lowe’s stores in the United States and Canada and online. With the introduction of Craftsman, customers will have access to some of the highest quality, innovative and value-oriented products in the industry for their next home improvement project.
We are proud to be a partner-of-choice for the Craftsman brand and look forward to sharing additional information with you soon!
And… that’s it.
This brings up a lot of questions, but there’s nobody at Lowes to ask. I asked some unrelated questions in early October, someone I’ve worked in the past year or two there said they would look into it. A few weeks later, I followed up, and discovered they had left the company. The general PR email address hasn’t been responding at all.
I mention all this because I have a lot of questions about the new arrangement, and know you guys will have lots of questions. But there’s nobody at Lowes to ask. Hopefully calling them out like this will change that.
So here’s what we know so far: Craftsman tools will be coming to Lowes stores in later parts of 2018, and they will span different product categories. Presumably, this means that the tools will be sold online and in stores
“Highest quality, innovative, and value-oriented products” seems to be a catch-all that pretty much describes any and all tools, at least those that you’ll find at Lowes and other big box stores.
Here’s what we don’t know: How will the Craftsman tools be positioned among current Lowes brands? Kobalt vs. Craftsman? What about Porter Cable power tools? What about warranties? Will the same tools be sold elsewhere, or will there be Lowes exclusives?
What does partner-of-choice mean?
There are going to be plenty of hard decisions to make. Lowes cannot carry 2 full lines of tools, under both Craftsman and Kobalt brands. They simply don’t have the shelf space. If Craftsman tools are positioned a little higher than Kobalt tools, then there’s going to be too much overlap with some of the prices. If they’re positioned much higher, it might be damaging to Craftsman sales and growth.
There’s room for more variety in the power tool market. Look how many brands Home Depot juggles. They have Ryobi and Ridgid as house brands, Makita and Milwaukee as strong partnered brands, and a good rounding of Dewalt tools.
Lowes might be able to do something similar, with Kobalt, Porter Cable, Craftsman, and Hitachi power tools, and Dewalt as another major but not more exclusive or tighter-knit partner.
The Lowes blog post has some photos showing existing Sears Craftsman products. Are they indicative of some of the new Craftsman tools we’re bound to see? The photos show tool and garage storage products, a circular saw, wrenches, and screwdrivers. They’re good images, but I don’t think they’re any serious representation of what we’re bound to see.
How will warranties work? Will there be a similar guarantee where you can bring in a Craftsman tool and get a replacement, right at the customer service desk?
What will the rollout be like? Does the second half of 2018 mean we might see some tools emerge for Father’s Day, and then a bigger surge next Fall and holiday shopping season?
Will Stanley Black & Decker be making all the tools, or will there be other suppliers? In other words, will we only see Stanley Black & Decker Craftsman tools, or is Sears Craftsman somehow also involved in this?
Maybe someone at Lowes will have some answers for us. I’d also love to hear from Kobalt, about how this will affect the strength and variety of their offerings. There’s nothing wrong with Lowes offering both brands, but there can only be one top dog.
I have also been wondering about how this might affect what we will see from Irwin and Lenox brands, with both having strong relationships with Lowes even before being acquired by Stanley Black & Decker.
I saw this on the forum yesterday. My first thought was; what happens to Kobalt?
I’m my own opinion cheapening up Kobalt with Chinese made tools was a huge mistake. When they first came out I am pretty sure they were using both Armstrong and Williams for most of the mechanics tools. I am not completely certain about the Williams stuff but you get the idea. Solid American made suppliers for good prices.
And they had a more than solid reputation under the Kobalt name. I am unsure about pliers and other things like hammers but the wrenches and ratchets were very nice.
Just like Sears did later, the change was damaging. Almost beyond repair. Now IF these Craftsman tools are going to be American made and of decent quality, then how can Kobalt find a niche in the same aisle? Really weird goings on right now in the tool world.
For me the takeaway is that both Lowe’s and Sears completely underestimated American national loyalty to domestic made tools. Yes, there will always be Johnny Homeowner who cares not where his tools are made. But there are those of us still around who are willing to pay a premium for good American made tools that are readily available. Maybe not SnapOn warranty/service level but certainly better than Chinese Craftsman.
The explanation, at the time, was that the USA supplier wasn’t producing quality up to Lowes/Kobalt needs and wants, and that’s why they went with the new supplier overseas.
I presume that they weren’t delivering the quality at the prices that Lowes and Kobalt wanted to sell the tools for.
Thanks Stuart. I can see that happening and I will take them at their word but with a fairly large dose of salt. I cast a much more jaundiced eye toward such explanations from these brands.
The Kobalt tools, just like Craftsman did not lower in price, even though presumably their manufacturing costs went down. In fact, many of the products went up in price(at least with Craftsman) which further cranked people’s heat levels up. We will see how it goes.
That’s just downright Orwellian. Nobody uses Chinese manufacturing for the quality. In fact, if the price of labor were equal, no one would opt for Chinese made products at all.
My metric combo wrenches are a set of the Williams USA made Kobalt. The quality is excellent, but they were also expensive. Not SnapOn expensive, but I paid a lot more for them years ago than a new set of Chinese Kobalt wrenches cost now. I think Stuart is correct in that the issue was not just quality, but quality at a price Lowes wanted to pay.
The USA-made Danaher Kobalt stuff was what apparently cost Lowe’s more than they wanted to pay to get the profit margin they want, since that’s what came and went after the Williams stuff.
It’ll be something if Danaher/Apex-manufactured Craftsman stuff, via SBD, especially USA-made, comes back to replace China-made Kobalt.
I don’t think Kobalt has to go anywhere. It’s still going to be Lowe’s “house brand”. If it suddenly dissappeared, you’d have a real problem since all those Kobalt tools with a lifetime warranty have to be replaced with…something. Or everyone gets refunds.
I’m guessing the Craftsman stuff, if it’s USA-made, will be the higher end for Lowe’s, Kobalt will be the imported mid-tier, and they’ll still have some Stanley and Tool Source/Blue Hawk for the low end.
I don’t think you’re going to see Lowe’s selling open stock Craftsman wrenches and sockets like their Kobalt offerings. They might sell power tools and some hand tools, but part of the way to keep Kobalt is to not have any chrome Craftsman stuff occupying that aisle.
If they do put any Craftsman ratchets/sockets/wrenches in Lowe’s, well, it’s going to be a real circus when it comes to that Lifetime warranty.
No one gets a refund when a brand dies… You can’t get a replacement for a cracked P&C socket, or a broken Powr-Kraft wrench, and probably not for a stripped KMart Power ratchet.
Interesting thing is that Kobalt does have a line of US-made screwdrivers these days….
I think the US-made ones were discontinued. I got most of the blue hard-handled ones that had strinking caps on clearance, but they now only sell them in a set, and they are made overseas, despite the similar appearance as the US-made versions.
They don’t seem to be at my Lowe’s. I just bought an individual blue handle Kobalt 8” PH2 made in USA and they had a full shelf of individuals, all MiUSA. Home Depot appears to have very similar MiUSA screwdrivers under the Husky brand also, not sure if its the same supplier. I was happy to see them
Stuart and Satch I totally agree. I like heavy duty and most of the tools in my box are Kobalt or Craftsman being able to take both to the same store will be nice for warranty. However I see concerns like Stuart mentioned, right now the hand tool area at my local Lowe’s is packed full of Kobalt Tools. As far as ratchets and sockets Kobalt has never fail me but their pilers will need to be replaced in hope of better quality in my tool drawer.
Maybe they’ll pull all Stanley products for Craftsman.
That would be most wise. Stanley is way to xmart cheap for lowes!
DONT GET WHY THEY PUT STANLEY MECHANIC SETS AT LOWES WHEN
THEY BELONG AT THE XMARTS???
I’m disappointed it Lowes and not Home Depot!
Having a 30 mile trip to HD and a mile and a half trip to Lowe’s…. I find this to be good news.
I drive 5 miles past Lowes to get to a HD. Can’t stand Lowes.
I have the opposite. 15mi from closest Lowe’s and 1mi from HD. I prefer HD, I like their tools and products better so I’m happy it’s closer. The service all around at Lowe’s is a horror show by me. I’m happy to see Craftsman expanding though especially if it will be more USA tools, I grew up with craftsman and have many excellent hand me downs from my family. They all swore by Craftsman for decades (granted its no longer what it once was, but there’s still time)
Aren’t y’all cute. For me 30 miles to get to Menards and 65 to HD or Lowes!
As SBD launches Craftsman to other retailers, I believe their positioning challenges will go deeper than direct brand-to-brand comparisons. Craftsman’s positioning varies from product category to product category, within the Craftsman brand portfolio. Positioning in consumer’s minds has also changed over time.
Look at wrenches and sockets. These were considered the best-of-the best in the retail environment 10-15 years ago. The along came other national and store brands with lifetime warranties, chipping away at Craftsman’s position. Craftsman then moved production to China and their brand position slipped a little further. If SBD brings Craftsman production back to the USA and has an iron-clad warranty, will they move back to the top of the retail brand heap? This could be a big win for Lowes,
Power tools are a different animal. Craftsman has always been a mid-grade DIY line with close comparisons to Ryobi. I wonder if Lowes goes “all in” with Craftsman power tools, or will they keep Kobalt as a dominant brand? I suppose that depends on what the new 2018 Craftsman power tools from SBD look like. How will this new Craftsman offering stack up against competing store and national brands? The retail power tool category is very price and margin sensitive, so it will be interesting to watch this play out.
Other tool categories will have different positioning challenges. These will likely be complicated by SBD’s supply chain and profit expectations. I assume SBD does not have capacity to bring all Craftsman product categories into their own facilities, and that they will need to source some products. Will SBD expand or shrink the number of Craftsman products and categories based on these factors?
The retail environment is already crowded with brands and it will be interesting to see how SBD and Lowes manage the 2018 Craftsman launch. Lowe’s sums it up nicely with their marketing speak about Craftsman delivering quality innovation and value, but living up to that promise could be a bit challenging to execute.
John, a very astute post.
I agree with much of your post, but disagree with one item. Years ago, Craftsman had many excellent power tools. I have a C-man recip. saw that is a rebranded Dewalt. My dad had a C-man router that was either a rebranded Bosch or Porter Cable (from when PC was a top of the line tool). It was in the more recent years that Sears began using Ryobi, B&D and other lower quality makers to produce their power tool line.
Their USA-made power tools were pretty good. I still have a USA-made Craftsman 3/8″ drill with a keyless chuck that’s going strong after around 20+ years. Bought it brand new for $19.99. I’ve seen plenty of the even older ones still in service, too. The quality is obviously better than the China-made stuff today anywhere near the same price point. Cordless stuff has come a long way, though.
Hope Lowe’s re-brands my local RONA. I never go in there . Now that Lowe’s has bought it I am tempted . If they took the Rona sign down I’d go for sure .
As for Craftsman. I will buy the hard line stuff if they make it in the USA. I seem to loose a few sockets now and then . Also I broke a half inch proto socket the other day . Every one used to buy Craftsman before it turned to junk . Would be so easy for them to retake the market . If I were Lowe’s I would insist on it being a house brand. I would push for high quality stuff . And I’d get rid of kobalt
The craftsman power tools will have to:
*Come up in quality
*Pledge to keep the batteries interchangeable very long-term, like Ryobi
*Offer many different innovative tools like Ryobi
*Be priced like Ryobi, including good holiday deals with kits, etc.
Only then would I consider buying them. When someone asks for a mid-priced entry-level recommendation, I nearly always recommend Ryobi. If they only wanted an affordable cordless circular saw and/or jigsaw I’d say Kobalt. The design of the circ saw is great and the batteries very affordable. My hope was that they’d expand the Kobalt line, but it doesn’t seem to be happening.
I’m not really sure why anyone would bother with Kobalt or any other tool manufacturer that has their tools made in China nowadays when you have cheapo Harbor Freight for all your glorious Chinese needs. I think Harbor Freight’s rise to dominance in the “made in China” category can’t be understated as it really threw a wrench (pun intended) into Craftsman, Kobalt, etc could do seeing as how their offerings were also made in China except cost more. No one is going to pay a premium for made in China hand tool over another made in China brand.
If you want a better hand tool you’re going to go and get a made in Taiwan tool and if you want better than that then you’re going to go with a made in the USA tool or a made in Germany tool.
Why go to harbor freight when kobalt beats them hands down and have the cheapest batteries on the market?
Is there really that big of a difference, at this point, between the two when it comes to non-power hand tools?
Oops, thought we were talking cordless power tools. My bad
Yeah cordless tools I see no need for HF unless somehow they produced something that was above and beyond what a big brand brought to light. Nowadays you can find sales on even Makita, Bosch, Dewalt, and Milwaukee offerings that can go as low as what HF is offering their power tools at.
Chinese products turn out 1000% better when they have a foreign company holding them to account. My own theory is that communism, crony capitalism and lack of protections for intellectual property have hamstrung Chinese quality. Why spend decades building a reputation for quality products and millions on R&D when someone will just steal your inventions and counterfeit your products with the support of the government? It’s the biggest manufacturer in the world and most people would be hard pressed to name a single Chinese company. Yet foreign companies like Stihl, Milwaukee, Apple and Sony are able to make high quality products using Chinese labor. There’s something about the Chinese market however that prevents their own domestic companies from achieving the same kind of excellence.
I definitely agree that it seems that giant multinational corporations based in the US seem to bring a certain quality control that the Chinese themselves, for some reason, don’t have much of a care or understanding of. Maybe it’s because the regular Chinese consumer doesn’t give a damn or culturally doesn’t understand. Maybe they’re perfectly happy using knockoff iPhones instead of authentic iPhones.
I do however think the lack of intellectual property has been a boon to the Chinese in that all they have to do is copy the product correctly and pump it out themselves. Their economy has grown significantly because of the lax regulations.
“Why spend decades building a reputation for quality products and millions on R&D when someone will just steal your inventions and counterfeit your products with the support of the government?”
Um because you need to produce something to survive either way. Look at it this way… IF there were no patent protections or any government regulating the market in the US, do you honestly think people would stop inventing and selling products because of it? Hell no. Necessity is the mother of invention. When tvs had dials and required you to get up off the couch and change the channel do you think that the remote control was invented as a way to sell the product or do you think it was invented because people were sick of getting up off the couch every 10 seconds to change the channel? It would have gotten invented no matter what because people were sick of getting off the couch.
Depends where you’re located. Not every city or town has a Harbor Fright, and even if they do, it may be an hour away. My city just got it’s first HF store awhile ago. Before that the closest HF stores were more than an hour’s drive away, and not worth it anyway.
That, and not all China-made stuff is the same. The tools Apex/Gearwrench make in China is generally better than what HF has made in China.
HF has also started to raise prices and limit coupon usage, so their tools aren’t quite the value they once were. There really does seem to be a cost/quality ratio that is hard to avoid in the tool biz.
True. The Harbor Freight where I am is a lot closer than the nearest Lowes and Home Depot are. Also true that not all Chinese stuff is the same quality but you are going to still pay more for Gearwrench made in China vs Harbor Freight. For example I did go to Harbor Freight’s site and price out a few hand tools and they were still a good $5-$10 cheaper in comparison to Lowes Kobalt items. Where the Kobalt hand tools a bit better…. probably… but again you paid a bit more for them still.
Location. There is a much higher density of Lowe’s on the East Coast than HF.
I’m disappointed with how they did the whole Metabo thing. They had a chance to showcase a brand that is only rivaled by Hilti and Bosch as the absolute best power tools you can buy, and mostly German made which is extremely rare these days, even most of Hilti’s stuff is now made in China. So disappointing. If they do the same thing with Craftsman, it’ll be a belly up failure. I was so excited to hear that Lowes was going to be carrying Metabo, and it was the most worthless brand addition I’ve ever seen, hopefully they’ll have Lowes exclusive AMERICAN made tools and really push them. Craftsman used to make damn fine ha d tools for the money, before they stopped all US production. I haven’t given them a dime since, from that point on all hand tools that I buy/bought were either S-K, Proto, Armstrong or sometimes MAC. I will never pay those kinds of prices for shit tools made in China or Taiwan.
Yeah, the Lowe’s I saw Metabo stuff at just stuck the stuff on an end cap and had the pricing so high it was obviously not going to sell. The stuff sat there until it went on clearance, and the clearance price was about the same as what you could buy them for online. Not sure what Lowe’s was doing. Seemed like intentionally pricing them not to sell despite allocating the space after making a deal to carry the brand.
Stuart, SBD answered some of these questions with their earnings release on Tuesday:
Craftsman will not be exclusive to Lowe’s … Lowe’s was the first to ink a deal, and needed to disclose a material contract (SBD would have preferred not to disclose the contract).
Most of the initial production will be contract manufactured outside of SBD … at least some of which will be sourced from Sears’ current suppliers. They will use a sourcing model in “the first year or two” until they are able to ramp up manufacturing capacity (the new Craftsman factory is expected to be operational in 2020).
I’m hoping that means the sourced stuff will be from Apex….though I do wonder if it will be Made in the USA? SBD wasn’t clear on whether the sourced tools for the first few years will be USA-made or not.
If they aren’t, and SBD is just going to order more of what’s already in Sears stores and sell it other places, that’s probably not going to help things if they’re making all this noise about bringing production back and making Craftsman tools in the USA.
I think the only thing myself and my friends want to know is , Will it be made in America only,period…….I think they have 1 opportunity to do it right…make everything in the good ol USA…supply jobs and high quality tools and …”they will come”….if it’s made overseas who cares ..what brand it competes with…
Made in USA*
*with global materials
I wonder how this will affect Ace Hardware. Ace has gone heavily into Craftsman for its hand tool offerings.
Well I learned today ace is owned by Lowe’s
^ what & when did this happens?
Ace is not owned by Lowe’s.
Well .. Yes in canada .. In 1990, Ace created a separate division known as Ace International. Over the next 20 years Ace established a presence throughout Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Middle East regions. In 2010, Tim-Br Mart Group acquired licensing rights to the Ace brand name in Canada. Four years later, Rona, Inc. signed an agreement with Ace Hardware for the master license to the Ace brand in Canada. Lowes completed its acquisition of RONA in May 2016. RONA assigned the Winnipeg office as Ace Canada, formally TruServ Canada, to manage the Ace Brand. As of June 2016, there are 62 Ace-branded stores in Canada. In 2017, Lowe’s Distribution Center will service Ace Canada.
Ace is unaffected … it will continue to sell Craftsman.
It appears that Lowe’s owns the rights to the Ace brand in Canada only.
And that’s by acquiring Rona.
I can see Kobalt Power Tools going away completely. I honestly don’t know a single person that has ever bought one.
That would give Lowe’s a Porter-Cable\Craftsman equivalent to HD’s Ridgid\Ryobi
Remember when HD tried launching Husky Power Tools before getting the Ryobi exclusive?
Tool of the trade
Joe is absolutely right. That is the only question that matters. If there is anything “global” about the new craftsman tools, then it’s a complete failure on sbd’s part. Whether it be a socket extension or a hand planer or a table saw, if it is not 100% made in the USA, from the packaging to every nut and bolt they put the tools together with, then sbd will be known to have completely ruined America’s most iconic tool brand. Sbd saved it before Eddie was able to completely kill it. He was close. This is craftsman’s last and only shot. The sears craftsman is done. So there’s no point in mentioning it. Sbd better make some wiser choices than the recent Lenox toolbox, which seems to be a somewhat ill advised move. I think those of us who appreciate what craftsman represented before the days of overseas manufacturing will be more than happy to pay for the quality that they were once well respected for. If sbd makes the right choice, then Lowes will have to start building bigger stores or get rid of the kobalt overflow. Same goes for Ace. Keep HD out of it.
Sears killed the brand.
I’ll take “made in the USA with domestic and global materials” over “made in China” any day.
Global materials can refer to a lot. When I once asked about how that relates to tape measures, I was told that it could be as little as steel that’s recycled overseas and brought back here.
While “entirely made in the USA” is great, I’ll take small compromises if it means major parts of the production, or even just the assembly and testing, are brought back here. That’s better than nothing.
When it comes to “Made in USA with Global Materials”, I don’t want the “Global Materials” to be recycled steel from say, China.
It matters less in tape measures, sure, but the main reason I pay for USA-made ratchets, wrenches, sockets, etc. is that they are forged from 100% USA-made steel.
While forges all over the world certainly have similar capability to make stuff out of metal, raw steel that’s US-made tends to be better/stronger than the metal from overseas, since places like China just take steel from all over and melt it down – which is how you wind up with Made in China Craftsman tools that aren’t quite as nice as the USA-made versons.
Better than nothing? Yeah, but not worth the same premium as a true 100% Made in USA product.
It is getting harder all the time to source steel from USA mills. I suspect that labor laws, labor and other costs and environmental concerns may continue to be pushing us out of the bulk steel market. Anyway, I saw some statistics that in 2016 China accounted for almost 50% of world steel production and that other Asian sources accounted for nearly 20%.
North American production (Canada, Mexico, USA) was less than 7% of world production. India now produces more steel than the USA. There has been a big decline in steel production in the EU as well.
Interesting points . When i was younger all the rigs ran big tri-plex pumps . Made in USA. Well now all the rigs still run big tri-plex pumps . However most are made in china . Even drill pipe now is often Asian. It is unreal how in 15 years this has all come about . Scary times friends
@ The yeti
From you comments, I take it that you may have some association to pumping drilling mud.
When I was younger (in the early 1970’s), it was said that the USA and Canada would be out of domestic natural gas and petroleum by the end of the 1980’s. No one was then predicting the spectacular rise of China as a manufacturing giant – but we were more worried about the rising dominance of Japanese manufacturing.
Fast forward 45 years, and to counterbalance the steady (some would say precipitous) decline in USA manufacturing, we have seen that USA and Canadian oil and gas reserves are still quite robust. The downside of this North American energy supply boom – is that there is now a glut – prices have fallen and the boom-bust phenomenon has not fared well economically with many folks who work in that sector.
To quote Heraclitus” “the only thing constant is change” or to look at another way “sic transit gloria mundi”. So you are right – with change comes anxiety – so we are living in scary times – but ones that should also present new opportunities.
Yep, that aligns with what our Dewalt (SBD) rep was telling us this week as well.
I think it would be very smart for SBD to continue the C3 line and do it ASAP, even if that meant for a time tapping competitor TTI to continue offering C3 versions of the new One+ stuff the line has never gotten. Launching a new cordless tool line and getting new customers onto a line and getting others to migrate is a difficult task. It would seem to make sense to tap the huge built-in customer base the C3 line has. Using the free-for-all free market known as eBay for a guide, the Craftsman C3/19.2 power tool line is 4th largest in North America behind Milwaukee, Makita, and DeWalt. There’s more items than Bosch, lots more Porter-Cable , Hitachi, and Ridgid, and even a bit more than Ryobi. This despite the fact that Craftsman hasn’t released a new C3 tool over 3 years now.
Given TTi’s Ryobi and Milwaukee going exclusively to HD, I don’t see much likelyhood of SBD+Lowe’s continuing old TTi/Craftsman cordless tools. I’m betting they’ll ignore current cordless owners and sail blissfully into the dangerous waters of introducing yet another cordless tool platform. (Call it YACTP).
Craftsman C3 tools are made by TTI, Chervon, and maybe another company.
Having to tie new tool innovations to a battery platform and form factor that SBD didn’t develop would be a horrible mess.
If I were at SBD, I would want to create an all-new platform. Maybe there could be an adapter, but that would create its own problems.
The C3 line is pretty long in the tooth and the old style stem batteries hinder design. SBD would be better off introducing a design of their own. Remember that the Craftsman Bolt-On and Black & Decker Matrix share a battery design. I can see them continuing on that route with Craftsman being a higher quality Black & Decker.
The B&D 20V linup ain’t half bad for the price. If they would just make a higher quality version of that at a slightly higher price point, I think that’d work for a new Craftsman cordless power tool lineup. The C3 tools and similar are just rebadged Ryobi, and those are consumer-level, so I’d think B&D should be able to hit that same customer level/price point without much trouble.
Might take ’em 2 years to develop the tools, though.
I’m kind-of sort-of hopeful for all the SBD USA-made Craftsman hoopla that’s been going on since they made the deal with Sears, but I just see this whole thing of selling Craftsman tools everywhere as one giant cluster**** waiting to happen.
Why? The warranty. SBD indicates they are keeping the lifetime warranty. It’s going be a huge mess when someone buys a Craftsman-branded tool in one store, and brings to another store to warranty it. If SBD sources the same exact tools Sears currently sells, it might be less of a mess, but unless SBD has some way to identify it’s tools as seperate from Sears’ tools, and they have a plan to compensate/cover when a SBD-sourced tool is replaced with a Sears-sourced tool and vise versa, it’s going to be a bit of a problem. Even more so if places like Lowe’s are now going to be though of as honoring the Craftsman lifetime warranty and people bring in all manner of their old broken and garage-sale-bought tools to exchange for new ones.
The only saving thing I see is that lots of the Craftsman tools now have generic language on the packaging saying to look up the warranty on the craftsman website, and I suspect the SBD-sourced tools will have whatever contact info they want to use on the tools, and Craftsman overall will shift to a warranty-by-mail model, like Stanley does already, where you call and complain and they send you a new tool that you get in a few days, rather than take it into a store and exchange it in person.
Overall, it’ll sure be interesting to see what happens the more places Craftsman tools are sold.
Yes, I thought of that too. It is even affecting brands like Klein. I am unsure of how it is handled at HD but for years a Klein tools were sold almost exclusively at wholesale houses. If a tool broke, you took it to the country term and they would give you a new one. But our local house hasn’t done that for years. They send it off to Klein and typically give you whatever Klein says to give you. If Klein determines it was abuse, you get nothung. I don’t know if this is Klein policy, house polucy, etc. I have exchanged one Klein pliers years ago by mail. I sent it to them in a padded envelope and weeks later a new one showed up Jan the mail. I could see a huge mess with Craftsman tools from various generations and manufacturers causing pandelerium at
Should added; the warranty department.
You underestimate the cheapness of the actual tool. What is important is people buying new ones, which funds the supply chain, which is the greater expense. Once the supply chain is in place flowing down, and money is flowing up, warranty replacements of mass market consumer hardline tools is hardly a bump on the chart.
This stuff is riveting. Love this site. It’s why I read it everyday. Thank you Stuart and all you smart, insightful commenters.
One of the other interesting aspects of this from a competitive level: With SBD’s acquisitions of Irwin/Lennox and now this announcement, SBD is close to being the sole source of products in Lowe’s tool departments beyond Lowe’s house brands.
Go walk a Lowe’s. Category after category, SBD is controlling at least 90% of the shelf space. I’m more than a little uncomfortable with this. Really, aside from limited Bosch and Hitachi offerings that I predict will further erode as SBD’s influence continues to expand (router bits is a good category to watch – some Lowe’s carry Irwin others carry Bosch – my guess is SBD’s influence will take over the Bosch stores at some point), SBD is now a monopoly inside Lowe’s.
Yeah well this is the path we are on now. Expect corporations to get even larger and eat up and merge with other corporations until the place you are shopping at is called “Lowes Stanley Black and Decker an Amazon company”. Lol.
Tool of the trade
What’s the difference between made in China and made in the USA with “global materials” imported from China? You know as well as I do that’s what they mean by “global”. I assure you that they aren’t importing from Germany or Japan. It doesn’t matter where it’s made or assembled if it’s assembled with all imported parts,does it?
It matters in the sense I don’t want to buy tools assembled by people who are paid slave wages and who work in unsafe/unreasonable working conditions.
Tools that are assembled by machines, sure, but when a company has unethical practices when it comes to workers for the purpose of driving down labor costs and keeping profit margins high, I don’t want to support them at all and I don’t buy their products.
It’s just there pretentious way of avoiding using the official Assembled in USA designation. I would rather they just say Assembled in USA. Any country of origin snob like me knows it’s not that easy to qualify for Made in USA unlike in some other countries and I would be happy to give them at least some credit. I would say it can make a difference. There’s quality control steps and some of them happen during assembly.
This news made my day! I hope Lowes gives Craftsman a couple of aisles or I hope Stanley Black and Decker has a deal to supply the tools if Lowe’s supplies the floor space. Keep is stocked. At Lowes you get 5% or 10% off with Lowes credit card. I agree with one comment about SBD needs to do this right at the beginning and make all tools in the USA! I can not wait! This would have been a great Christmas present to all of us if this could have been done sooner. I also hope SBD is creating a new Craftsman.com and have an option to ship to Lowes on stuff that will not be carried in stores.
I think this will greatly help Lowes. I hope they have a large Craftsman section. I will certainly be in Lowes more than I am now so they will definently get more of my business unless the Craftsman section looks like it does at Ace or Kmart. One aisle of tools. I hope Lowes carries the full line. Do I sound like a little school girl!!! I am grinning from ear to ear. About damn time.
Lowes should be getting ?? Craftsman tools by this coming July 2018, this also includes lawn mowers . This will be a great asset to lowes, as Lowes needs all the help they can get. Lowes is supposed to redo their website, which is badly needed for them. Their website my not be nearly as bad as Sears, but it does need work. Plus Lowes seems to have lost a lots of their brand names to Home Depot, so Craftsman tools is a sight for sore eyes for Lowes shoppers ? & Craftsman lovers will also rejoice. If Lowes could just get some Dewalt 60v Flexvolt items in their store they would be all set.
Don’t hold your breath on Lowe’s getting DeWalt Flexvolt. I don’t know for sure, but my guess is Home Depot tied up exclusivity with this line. Lowe’s has proven time and again that their tool buyers don’t understand what professionals need, or how to market to pros. Even if they did carry 60v it probably wouldn’t sell well. There just aren’t as many pros using Lowe’s, and Lowe’s has shown no interest in investing the multi-year level of patience / low sales on pro-quality tools it would take to raise awareness of Lowe’s as a legit source for the trades and to grow this segment.
Probably right, Home Depot is on top of their game, Lowes is not. That’s one good reason Lowes has lost ground, our town for example only has a lowes and Menards close by. Which leaves people like me having to buy pro tools on line or out of town. Keep in mind Lowes used to be number one, they had all the brands and did well with them until they decided to go mostly with their brands and the choice of Hitachi, Bosch or select S,B&D products forgetting about pro contractors.
Man, every time I read a new Craftsman story I am just conflicted. No news is good or bad, it’s all “it depends”. I can’t decide whether to be hopeful or pessimistic.
I should say, I am a huge Craftsman fan. Like many of you, I grew up with a father that owned almost exclusively Craftsman tools. My first tool set was a Craftsman set (one of the original Taiwan-made Evolv sets) and it served me extremely well through my learning to turn wrenches. The only thing I ever broke out of that set was the 1/4″ Ratchet after years of abuse. Now, most of those tools are still being useful as they make up the majority of the box I keep in the truck for emergency repairs.
It has been heartbreaking to watch the decline of the brand under current Sears leadership. I believe Sears’ handling of Craftsman is the perfect model for understanding what is wrong with American business in this day and age. Modern business practice(for big businesses at least) is characterized perfectly by the old Texas saying “Big Hat, No Cattle”. Modern products are so often the polar opposite of what their marketing states. “5X Stronger” can be translated to “10x weaker”, “Built to last” to “will be dead in a year”, “Lifetime warranty” to “well…call us and get through 5 rounds of arguments with a person who barely speaks your language and then pay $6 shipping to send us your $5 tool and we will get you one out next week”. Some might call this fluff or bluster, I call it dishonesty, and am sickened by it. This is true of many products, not just tools.
I will say, I am not in the camp of “All Craftsman tools need to be 100% made in the US or I’m not buying them”, but I would certainly like to see a change from the current trend. I believe that manufacturing some things in China makes a lot of sense, but tools meant to be handed down to one’s children are not one of them.
What I fail to understand is why Sears felt the need to roll around in the mud with retailers like Harbor Freight but at higher costs, and even if you were going to do that, why wouldn’t you do that exclusively with Evolv and leave regular Craftsman alone?
I seem to swing from hopeful to cynical about SBD’s future decisions for Craftsman. I for one will be thrilled to see Craftsman products available in more stores. I see it as Stanley giving the Craftsman brand a lifeboat to get away from the sinking ship that is Sears. On the other hand, I have seen the way that SBD has cheapened (while simultaneously expanding and heavily marketing) the other brands that it has acquired (Irwin-Hanson being a great example), and don’t hold a tremendous hope for CMAN under their ownership based on this track record.
I, like many, believe that the whole “Made in the USA with global materials” thing misses the boat, and I vomit in my mouth a little every time I see one of those Dewalt tool bags with the giant flag on them. However, I suspect that I believe this for a slightly different reason than most. I grew up in a rural factory town here in the states and still live in the Midwest and I have to believe that the workers in the Taiwanese plants are more capable of producing a quality product these days. I know this is going to draw a lot of flack, but to my mind, quality American “unskilled” labor largely vanished decades ago, while Taiwan is (maybe) on the upswing. Knowing that some 22 year old high school drop out, loaded on oxycontin in rural Kansas assembled my drill doesn’t exactly give me the same warm and fuzzies I get when I think about the men and women who gave a shit when they engineered and assembled so many of the vintage USA tools we all cherish.
Materials on the other hand matter tremendously, so I would far rather buy a Taiwanese made tool with superior materials than a US made tool made of cheap Chinese parts, mostly assembled in China, then shipped to the US where said 22 year old screws the two halves together and puts it in a box. The cynic in me thinks that this is exactly what Craftsman is fated to be, a storied American brand, heavily marketed as American, assembled (sorta) in America with the same low quality materials we see from other SBD brands and sold for semi-premium prices.
I really hope I’m wrong….
I should clarify that I do try to buy US made tools for the various social impacts (such as job creation that could pull people out of poverty and reduce drug addiction), and I do think there are a lot of US manufacturers that build quality products and have a quality labor force. I am just saying that if forced to choose between crap materials and US assembly or good materials and overseas assembly (not china though) I would choose the second.
US jobs is only half the issue. The jobs have to be good ones, not minimum wage, part-time shift work (not accusing SBD of this, I have not idea).
I totally agree with what you have said. I hate it when a product from the Stanley conglomerate is labeled either with Made in USA with global materials/with US and global materials.
Did you mean to link to a different article? That one doesn’t provide any added details.
That article and this one address several additional details (the merger, manufacturing, etc) not covered in the OP. Ace Hardware has been selling Craftsman for awhile as well, so this event is not revolutionary.
SBD’s track record of iconic tool brands that they have consolidated is not very promising. Neither are the trends. Take a look at MAC, Proto & Facom, still quality hand tools, but the ‘Chinesium’ bug has crept into even MAC, their top tier brand. Proto’s offerings have become extremely limited, and Blackhawk is all but completely gone offshore. What in the world makes you think that SBD will elevate Craftsman above their entry level professional line Blackhawk? After Sears falling out with Western Forge & Ideal Industries (SK), no more red & blue USA screwdrivers and black handle pliers. Craftsman’s best offerings were made by quality tooling company’s like Armstrong (also on the chopping block for an Apex/Bain Capital raid) and Matco. There was a time when even top tier tool truck wrenches and sockets were identical to Craftsman, thats because they came off the same Danaher/Easco line. I highly doubt SBD will take the mass contract route that Sears fulfilled in the 90’s and early 2K’s with top forgers that provided some outstanding tools for the money. It’s hard to see SBD cutting their upper tier offerings off at the knees to elevate ‘Big Box’ store tools, let alone the real-estate already occupied by Kobalt. Somethings gotta give, and I unfortunately see a sprinkle of U.S. w/Global Components offerings, and a swath of overseas trinkets. If track record is anything to go by, I just hate to see all the Craftsman lovers like myself get their hopes up, because time and time again SBD has disappointed in every instance, and I just don’t see them truly committed to this so called ‘revitalizing’ of the C-Man brand. SBD already has the tooling, infrastructure & clientele in place, to stamp out ‘truly’ domestic Craftsman tomorrow, but yet claim they need more time? Uh huh… I’ll take all this US factories and more jobs comment from SBD w/a grain of salt.
I do not see anything good coming out of Stanley’s relationship with Craftsman. Stanley has already watered down the reputation many of its acquisitions like as Mac, Husky, Blackhawk, and Porter Cable. I bet a lot of stuff Stanley already makes like those garbage grade Husky ratchets will be branded Craftsman someday. Stanley already has too many brands on its hands and it will inevitably cause overlap.
Speaking as a former associate of Lowe’s after working 20 years there I was there when they transitioned from the old Kobalt to the new Kobalt and in the beginning they were using Snap-on which was more expensive and therefore wasn’t comparative to craftsmen’s price point so then they moved to Allen as a manufacturer and Allen again while still made in the USA the price was still too high so then they moved things over to Taiwan/ China to make the price point cheaper. Craftsman then was in play but at the last minute they decided to stay with Sears as lowes did lay on the table a 2 billion dollar offer for them as we were told at that time around 2012 or so .I would love to see the full tool line that Sears used to put in every store before their decline offered in Lowes as Kobalt while a good tool has no where the expansive choices that Craftsman brings with it and that was a discussion among us even then as Kobalt would be a good entry price point moving up to Craftsman as your tool needs expanded …now even more so that Craftsman is returning to the US for production now makes Made in the USA mean something again .
Daniel Dault Jr
iv asked people at two different lowes in my area and both said the plan is to phase kobalt tools out and phase craftsman in
Today I found about the future of the Kobalt hand tool lifetime warranty. In short, there is none.
I had a Kobalt micro screwdriver that broke. When I tried exchange the screwdriver I discovered it is no longer made, nor does the Kobalt brand have a replacement. I inquired about a replacement of a similar Craftsman tool. Basically I was told that was not an option. In short once Kobalt tools disappears so does the warranty. Thank you Lowe’s
I saw a post about sears being bought out by Stanley Black &Decker which uses different companies to manufacture tools. Craftsman is one of those tools. It wouldnt be hard to add that line at a major home improvement store. I buy the products that suit my needs and i do prefer craftsman handtools for automotive applications. Im not impressed with ryobi or some other tools.
I am located in Canada and I have been informed (not substantiated yet) that Lowe’s will drop the Kobalt line and go ahead with The Craftsman brand.
I was going to buy a Kobalt mitre saw; the price point was very good and the references were acceptable. I am not a tradesman, but I still want quality for my dollar. After finding out about Kobalt, and the possibility of having a problem, with no solution, I spent the extra dollars and bought a DeWalt product.
My advice to anyone: buy the “quality” brand name and the risk will be much less than a home brand. The quality, as well, should prove to be superior!
Just my opinion.
I was just talking to people even bragging the fact that LOWES had the best tool department in town. Then when I walk in I see Craftsman Crap. What a disappointnent. Obviiusly the talking headsvat the top have never used a tool in their life and only going by name. Craftsman use to be good about 40 years + but has been diminishing in quality ever since for the same reason. Sears talking heads have no idea. I doubt they ever stepped inside of a Sears store or knew their customers or customers base.
Guess I’ll have to start looking fir a new place to buy quality tools. Kobalt was my go to tool since scraping craftsman junk. Constantly rounding out or cracking sockets, stripping ratchets. Just not worth the time to keep going back to get a replacement time and time again. Made the mistake 40 years ago, never since.