I have noticed a growing trend these past couple of months. When discussing a new Milwaukee tool, someone – and I don’t mean one person – will turn the comments section towards country of manufacturing origin.
Soon after, the discussion will turn towards “Milwaukee is a Chinese company,” and then eventually it becomes “I bet they don’t do even do anything here.”
Earlier this week, I met and reconnected with many Milwaukee engineers and product managers that I think would protest to these sentiments. They work hard at what they do, and it’s obvious that they do so with pride. While it’s bold of me to speak for them, I am pretty sure that they personally associate with Milwaukee Tool and not TTI, Milwaukee’s parent company.
Anyway, I found myself looking up the spelling of a product manager I had the opportunity to chat with. As usual, I made a poor effort at writing down who I spoke to and about what, and so I was trying to make up for that after the fact.
While on LinkedIn, I came across 19 new Milwaukee Tool job listings. I recall the president of the company saying they were going to do some hiring soon, but I don’t think this is what he meant. Still, it says something when you see new employment opportunities at their headquarters and 2 of their manufacturing plants.
These are jobs in the USA, and not in China.
Back in 2012, Milwaukee recently set up some operations at a building across the parking lot from their headquarters. Now, that building is packed to capacity with testing and development activities. There was a lot more to see this time around.
I don’t know what else to say to those who constantly bring up how Milwaukee is owned by TTI. Milwaukee Tool is not a smoke-and-mirrors operation, they’re a USA-based company that is simply owned by a foreign publicly-traded parent company.
Also keep in mind that TTI acquired Milwaukee Tool in 2004. And now think about everything that has come out of the company since then. If you’re up for a greater challenge, look at the few innovations that have come out of Empire Level in the past few years, and keeps your eyes peeled for the very many new products they have in the works, all thanks to the resources made possible by the Milwaukee-Empire acquisition.
Some of their products are currently being made in the USA, such as these Sawzall blades. And also keep in mind that Milwaukee Tool also now owns Empire Level, which they said currently produces 85% of their products in the USA.
Sorry for the digression, this is a sore topic area for me. Maybe I’d feel differently if I never actually saw how deeply rooted Milwaukee Tool actually is in Wisconsin, or how much pride they have in what they do here.
Anyway, if you’re looking for a job in the Brookfield, WI, Greenwood, MS, or Jackson, MS, or greater Milwaukee areas, check out the job listings, linked below.
There’s also a job listing for Mukwonago, WI, which is where Empire Level is located. It seems that Empire is looking for a new Director of Operations, which is in agreement with Milwaukee’s claims that they’re pushing large amounts of resources to bolster their R&D and production efforts.
They showed off some new Empire tools at the recent Milwaukee new tool event, and flat out said that many more new ones will follow.
Sorry, before I spiral even more outside the lines, here’s a link to the job listings:
See Jobs(via LinkedIn)
It would be nice if Milwaukee was US owned and operated, but that hasn’t been the case in a long time. The previous owners Atlas Copco kinda let the brand wither. With the TTI ownership Milwaukee is a thriving company. If TTI didn’t buy the company its possibly Milwaukee could have been shut down. It would be nice if they could move some more manufacturing here like Dewalt.
Yep, that’s what a lot of people forget – that the Milwaukee of the late 90’s and early 00’s would not have grown to what they are today without TTI ownership.
Similarly, they’re pumping resources into Empire, which I think will have a very significant effect on the company.
Back in the mid 90’s to the mid 2000’s Dewalt XRP platform was super dominant in cordless tools. I’m not saying there were not other options, but percentage wise of market share they had to have been on top by a significant amount. I’m not saying that Dewalt is hurting, but the power tool market is much more competitive with Milwaukee being recapitalized. Milwaukee is very aggressive with tool releases and innovations compared to other brands that move slowly and methodically.
Dewalt is still dominant in the tool market with the biggest chunk of market share in north america last I checked
“Yep, that’s what a lot of people forget – that the Milwaukee of the late 90’s and early 00’s would not have grown to what they are today without TTI ownership.”
I’m guilty of a lot of Milwaukee-bashing as well, but this rings pretty true. It’s nice to think about what could have been, and that Milwaukee would have done even better if they had stayed 100% American owned, operated, and produced. They might have, if they churned out awesome tools that businesses and contractors would pay a hefty premium for. They could have done it, for sure, especially with their Sawzalls – Hilti is a good example of a company that makes tools that companies and contracts will pay a hefty premium for. Unfortunately, it would have been an even tougher climb, and I think the people at the top made a pretty easy decision to grow the company and compete with other mainstream companies by partnering with TTi.
If nothing else, I’m glad companies like Milwaukee are doing more in the USA, because that means the sentiment that consumers do care where their products are made is getting through.
When in the discussion of Empire Level, it was made clear that Empire was doing good things before, but because of its size, they didn’t have the types of resources to push further into greatness. R&D costs money – money that small independent privately-owned companies cannot always muster.
One of the things I want to discuss later is how the Milwaukee company president mentioned, while we were in the dinner line, that he lets his teams take bigger risks than before. This, coupled with a product manager’s mention that a particular fringe tool has done better than their “wildest expectations,” convinces me that the Milwaukee of the ’90s and ’00s most likely wouldn’t have changed the cordless landscape as much as we’ve seen.
Everything would be different. Without Milwaukee where it’s at, what would Dewalt be like today? Makita? Bosch? It’s a responsive market.
Cheers! to this article. Well said, and a crucial point. We live in a time of globalization and shifting capital. Innovation has for a long time been the product of the US; glad to see its defense here. Milwaukee, like Apple, and Anheuser-Busch and others are firmly rooted in the US even if a grand portion of their labor or their ownership is elsewhere in the world. Ownerships will shift, and shift again and again. Milwaukee is a city in the US and an American Tool Company. Welcome to Earth 2.0, a new type of economy. And Go! Team Red!
What is commonly called globalism -may- be reducing cultural prejudice as a near unavoidable consequence of the new ‘global village’ being created…I must point out that describing Apple(or GE or JP More-gain or any of the USA’s top earning ‘citizens’) is a very, very, very hard sell at best. Continuing your analogy of Apple being ‘rooted’ in the USA(true enough, as they certainly utilize the technology developed here, almost entirely derived from the DoD, then further use up nutrients from US soil when they adapt that same tech for huge commercial markets using US based engineers and talent, also largely created using US Gov resources/American taxes). The problem is this: Apple lays down roots, sucks up resources from the USA, extracts most of their profits from the USA, and then promptly exports those earnings and avoids paying taxes back into the same system which was so vital to (the scale of) their success. GE hasn’t paid taxes in 30 years at least. In fact oil companies, GE, and many giant corporations actually receive tax refunds.
One other thing: what you called ‘shifting capital’ is loosely called money velocity in economics. It’s maybe the most important metric to look at when determine the health and robustness of an economic system. And it’s at an all time low, essentially. Yet the money supply is at an all time high. The central banks keep creating billions of new dollars every month, yet less than 5% of the new money enters the general economy. It’s all going to the same 5000 people at the top, basically.
Sorry to post sooo much. Sincerely. I’ve heard often enough that reading is worse than Hitler, but everyone cares about this stuff, everyone has a stake in it, and they just will not talk about the on the Tee Vee or whatever.
If I could make these points with fewer words, I would do so. I don’t possess that skill.
To be clear, I’m supportive of the spirit of your post, the Earth 2.0 and all that…I just wish that Apple and their fruity friends were as well. It seems someone will have to force them to change. One day we might have a world where each phone can be made without worker suicides as a component.
Also at the media event they mentioned the upcoming presentation and press release from the governor of Mississippi. 126 jobs in MS. http://www.governorbryant.com/milwaukee-tool-announces-expansion-in-greenwood-miss/
Thanks! Must have missed that part.
Chances are I might be overstepping my boundaries, but in the off chance this might have been directed at me (which I am not stating IS the case) I do give TTI SOME credit for having some Milwaukee items being made in USA/made in USA of global components.
However, even when this is inconvenient I don’t skip facts. Milwaukee is owned by a Chinese company and that company is named TTI. Like it or not, that IS the truth. However, the person who is constantly claiming that is NOT me. Without turning this into a political discussion, even though they are Chinese company, there still is some manufacturing here. Not just assembly, but actual components (in some cases) made in USA.
Stuart, since you clearly have industry contacts please feel free to correct me about this, but to my knowledge there isn’t any Milwaukee stamped hand tools either made in the United States or made in USA of global components. I’ve only seen USA made wire wheels, attachments and made in USA OF global component blades.
I’ve read that some of their higher end power tools were assembled/potentially had some domestic components, but that is likely old news and likely no longer the case.
All and all though, TTI is a Chinese company and given that, they have no reason to support American manufacturing. Even the white collar higher ups in America or the CEO and their shareholders have no reason, as they generally they have money and are typically only focused on making money.
This is just my stance and I much rather Milwaukee be owned by a American corporation. Now that doesn’t mean that the products will be here or at all (looking at you Apple), but at least an American company would have more incentive to manufacture products here as they are stateside.
America might be a global society now and depending on your values that is either great or horrible, but that is also the truth. No matter how much one denies this, the truth always is right if there is there legitimate facts to back that up.
The “and I don’t mean one person” part was aimed at you. Yes, your COO digressions sometimes frustrate me, but I wanted to be clear that I wasn’t calling you out in that part of the discussion.
Milwaukee said they produce a lot of accessories here, such as Sawzall blades and the newish step bits https://toolguyd.com/milwaukee-step-drill-bits/, and also things like Sawzalls (corded models only I believe).
The president of the company is surprisingly down to earth, and will talk with anyone one-on-one. He said some very impactful things to me, which I’ll share in an upcoming post. Some of the product managers said some pretty impactful things too, which is why I love going to events like this. It’s hard on me to take the time to travel, but the inside look is unobtainable through any other means.
Stuart, being that I am reasonable person I had come to conclusion this wasn’t just geared at me. However, let me first state I don’t mean to frustrate you or anyone here. I am not trolling or trying to start “flame wars” or cause any drama for that manner. Believe me, I give credit to ANY company that creates work in America, even if they aren’t American owned.
If I can be brutally honest, most people in America don’t care about where their items are made. Even though this directly affects the unemployment rate and the future of America. I’ve seen manufacturers come on blog and post comments so you do have some influence. That being said, if these manufacturers see there is a some people that are legitimately interested in buying American made items, this might be more encouraging for them to keep the jobs here or at least see there is still some interest.
I wish I wasn’t the minority when this comes to actually caring about American manufacturing and seeing Americans employed but I am and that is the truth. At least here the discussion have remained civil, as that isn’t the on other sites. I’ve noticed some “internet tough guys” ruin it for those who aren’t extremist and don’t actually hate foreigners and just want to see those in my country be able to feed their families and have a decent career.
I feel so powerless that the jobs continue to be shipped overseas and try as I might with my own resources, American unemployment continues to grow and the majority who could do something don’t. Coming from someone who has had family and friends lose their jobs and sometimes more, that frustrates me.
“Milwaukee is a Chinese company.”
Why don’t those who say that throw away their cell phones, their computers, tvs, all of their technology if they’re such an American.
Milwaukee is an outstanding company, their quality to details, performance, innovation, & durability stands up to the best of the best no matter where everything is made.
In your first sentence it seems you accidentally used the word “Milwaukee” instead of “America”. JK, relax everybody. Clearly, that was a slight exaggeration on my part.
My comment wasn’t directed at any one person and I never saw your comment. Was using it in general.
So is Dewalt and SB&D and they are based in the good oll USA…
One thing…long term production will have to move out of China. The 1 child policy on top of education being so important (China seems to have some very well educated kids) has me thinking very few of these youngsters will be found on the production line. China’s population continues to age. Wages have increased. I would say robotics is the wild card in that maybe at some point…a tool will have no need for a human when its being put together, packaged…other then the engineers that design it and the guy who builds/services the robots.
Overlooked by many is the simple fact that the WORLD has “lost” 22 million manufacturing jobs in the last decade. The biggest loser?
I appreciate that Milwaukee is doing a lot of R&D here, but I do have two related concerns. Usability and production improvements. On the usability front, I am constantly distressed by how little thought is given with so many products to the matter of repair/routine maintenance. This, I think, is because so often the folks who engineer the products have little to no experience actually servicing/maintaining them. I’m speaking primarily of cars/motorcycles right now, but have seen similar problems with power tools. The second concern is simply whether or not the smart guy working on the production line can get production improvements implemented. The distance between the line and the product engineers may make this extremely problematic.