Just to be clear, this is not one of those posts where I am able to answer the title question.
Prologue – ToughBuilt is Back on My Radar
The story starts in late 2020, when ToughBuilt messaged me on Instagram:
Would you like some tool gear to review?
My response was basically: Sure, I haven’t tried any ToughBuilt tools in quite a few years. What did you have in mind?
I also mentioned not seeing the brand since they were in Sears’ holiday gift center back in 2011.
I never heard back, aside from them telling me ToughBuilt is now at Lowe’s.
Then on December 16th:
Do you have a gift or product roundup that offers ideas for the working man? The union guy, the hard working blue collar worker?
We hardly see this type of round up and I think it would be perfect!
The best knee pads for the brick layer.
The perfect pouch to transform how professional electricians carry their tools.
The best tool bag to carry on job sites.
The subject line was “gifts for the working man.” They didn’t even mention the brand or products, I had to look at the signature line to see what brand they represented.
9 days before Christmas and 2 weeks before the end of the year isn’t enough time to vet products for a gift guide.
The same thing happened as on Instagram – the conversation ended abruptly and no one got back to me.
This has been a “social media and influencer marketing” trend for some tool brands. If I say anything other than “yes, here is my address,” the conversation ends there.
ToughBuilt Tool Entered New Product Categories
Fast forward to January 2021, and I was curious – why was ToughBuilt reaching out all of a sudden? I learned that a couple of new ToughBuilt tools were coming out at Lowe’s.
My first post on ToughBuilt’s product expansion has some details on the aviation snips, and some commentary about the product line introduction. But I can’t do that for every post – I need more “meat” for tool coverage.
How does a tool bag company segue into aviation snips and other hand tools?
My second post was on the ToughBuilt Shock Block hammer concept. It’s not a real product (yet), and so I don’t need many details for a theoretical future tool discussion.
ToughBuilt’s social media/influencer marketing team seemed uninterested in working with me/ToolGuyd, but I was still in need of press/media information and insights So, I emailed a Toughbuilt VP that had answered a question for me in the past.
Is there any chance that you could provide me with press releases or fact sheets regarding new ToughBuilt products?
Paraphrasing the response I received:
Product information won’t be on the ToughBuilt website because they are Lowe’s exclusives. We’ll get you the information you need.
Shortly after that, apologies come in from the social media/influencer marketing team, and then… nothing.
If you have more questions or specific needs, let us know and we can answer, or be better informed of how to provide the information about certain product features and such.
Okay, I can be more direct.
Upcoming ToughBuilt Product Categories
Let’s rewind a little bit, so I can explain why I’m so interested in information and insights.
ToughBuilt published some investor relations press releases announcing new tools at Lowe’s, but there’s not much information there. I wanted more information, and it seemed that details and insights would not be forthcoming on their own, and so that’s when I started asking questions.
This isn’t just about aviation snips or a limited new tool launch at Lowe’s. There are a LOT of new ToughBuilt tools coming out, and if each introduction is accompanied by the same paltry level of information as the snips, my ability to report on them will be greatly impeded.
The new ToughBuilt tools and product category entrances look interesting, but how can I post about them if there aren’t sufficient details or insights to ensure high quality content and coverage?
ToughBuilt is planning to launch new hand tools steadily through 2023, and is also scheduled to launch new power tools in 2023-2024.
ToughBuilt power tools?!
And, ToughBuilt tech, specifically electronics, rugged devices, and apps, are scheduled to start launching this year.
ToughBuilt PPE gear and apparel are also set to start launching in 2021.
Can you see why I’m curious and hopeful for more information and greater insights?
These are a lot of new product categories, and for a brand whose core product focus has been on tool bags and accessories.
ToughBuilt has been largely invisible (at least to me) for more than 9 years, and now all of a sudden they’re launching products in how many new categories?
And if ToughBuilt is launching many if not all of these new tools exclusively at Lowe’s, there are going to be a lot of readers wondering and asking questions about what they’re seeing in stores.
ToughBuilt 2021 – 2023 New Tool Roadmap
ToughBuilt says that they will be launching 43 more product lines by 2025. That’s very ambitious for any brand, especially for a somewhat niche brand like ToughBuilt.
ToughBuilt did not send any press/media information about the aviation snips or other newly launched tools when I asked for details, and their last response suggested that maybe it would be best to ask specific questions.
After several rounds of emails and messages, I didn’t learn a single thing about their new products. So, it was time to be direct.
Here’s What I Asked ToughBuilt
I can be direct, and apologize if my frank tone comes across rudely as this is not the intent.
For most of the past 10 years, ToughBuilt has been largely invisible. I noticed zippered tool pouches on Amazon in 2018, and that was the only product I noticed since spotting (and buying some) tool pouches with a clip gimmick back in 2011.
Why should a user purchase these ToughBuilt aviation snips over Lenox, Wiss, Milwaukee, Midwest, and other popular brands?
As far as I am aware, these are ToughBuilt’s first hand tools, and first aviation snips.
Right now, the only selling point I can see is that they’re a novelty, but one without apparent functional benefits.
I checked my local Lowe’s, and they didn’t even have this on the shelf. So if a user is shopping online, with the wealth of options available to them, why buy ToughBuilt?
Is this just a “me too” effort?
Mobile and Pro Apps
Power Tools and Accessories
Long-established tool brands have difficulty competing in some of these markets. Bigger names are slapping their brands on power tools – New CAT Cordless Power Tools??. Bigger brands with huge R&D budgets and mature talent struggle to innovate in these product categories.
Why does ToughBuilt think it can do better? How is it doing better?
As an editor and tool user, there is frustratingly little information and details surrounding the products recently launched.
If all of this is too much to answer, we can start with one question: Why should a user buy ToughBuilt aviation snips? [Because of the lack of information and insights,] I cannot answer this question as a user, or someone who’s supposed to have the answers.
I was neutrally toned (as opposed to candidly critical) in my post, as I have allowed myself to be optimistic that ToughBuilt isn’t just a me-too brand that’s slapping its name on 3rd party Olympia, Great Star, or other OEM designs that are tweaked just enough to give them a unique appearance.
I was hoping that you would have fact sheets, sell sheets, press releases, anything to help [me] communicate something about these new products.
ToughBuilt convinced Lowe’s to carry its new products, and presumably upcoming SKUs as well, despite Lowe’s having pre-existing and rather strong relationships with brands that cover the same product categories. Surely there must be something special worth communicating.
I am sorry that I wasn’t specific enough in my [previous] inquiries and expressed desire for more information.
No Response – Again
ToughBuilt reached out to me on two platforms and dropped the conversations after I started asking questions.
A broad request for product information did not work.
So, I thought that being completely frank about the answers and insights I was seeking would have worked. Maybe I was too direct in my questioning? Was I inadvertently abrasive?
I understand that it’s easier for brands to scattershot product samples to “influencers” than to answer media/press questions, but I hoped I would have learned something about the new tools by now.
Even a link to the investor relations press releases with a “sorry, this is all we have right now” would have been something.
As of March 2020, ToughBuilt Industries only had 24 full-time employees (as per investor materials). How do they have enough talent and know-how to jump into so many different tool categories and with such an ambitious schedule?
If ToughBuilt cannot or will not answer questions about their new aviation snips, how are they going to sell users like me on their new hammers? Pliers? Tape Measures? Saws? Screwdrivers? Power Tools?
Why does ToughBuilt think it can do better? How is it doing better?
In the absence of press or media information, details, and insights, isn’t this a fair question to ask?
“ToughBuilt: Our Name Says it All” – No, it really doesn’t.
If or when you see these new tools, or you know something about them, please let us know!