I had heard (I think elsewhere in this forum) that Sears was trying to sell the Craftsman brand. I got this email today. What do y'all think this means for the quality of their tools - will it get better or continue to decline?
Sorry for the screenshots, it wouldn't let me copy and paste the text.
Also today I saw that B&D are looking to move at least some of their manufacturing back to the USA.
I for one can hardly wait to see what will come of this. Maybe we are on the front edge of something that will swell int a tsunami of traditionally US companies returning to their roots. I for one hope to see quality return to our goods and tools.
Sears kept my father operating and my mother keeping a minimal household
Functioning through the Great Depression---"Good, Better, Best". In my turn,
I bought Sears through my working life (often second-hand +a bit of lasting
repair) Now I am 81 and beyond sanity and bodily Power ; If only Sears had picked
Up online sales before E- bay in the first flowering of Web Sales........ I was
There when Arpa-net was fresh at "my"LaboraTory. Remember, Railway
Express and its Post office accompaniment made the same merchandising
we enjoy today possible............BLJHB.
Bought a Stanley 1/2" ratchet at Walmart to throw in the truck. Not horrible, but definitely nothing to write home about. Bought my first Craftsman top box and tool set in 74 and added to it over the years. I love my old stuff, but also over the years you could see the quality diminish. Just another sad story, but when a market makes itself known, something usually comes along to fill it. As much as I love nostalgia, sometimes you just have to move on. Still keep my eyes peeled for the old stuff. Mike
Craftsman was only a name slapped on tools made by others. Some were good, some were a good value and some, well not so much. At one time I believe they did have some decent management that at least knew something about tools. I don't believe that is true now and hasn't been for at least the past 10 or 15 years. Sears had a established mail order business and could easily been what Amazon is today. Short sighted management and kept them out of the online game until it was too late and even today their web site is horrible.
Sears was once a power house company that sold everything from log cabins to guns via catalog. Fast forward to the 90's and their CEO and other leadership missed the vision of the next big step, the internet. They (executives) still made big bucks but the companies demise was already set in motion.
I remember at 12 years old, I would stand in awe at the large Craftsman tool set displayed on the wall dreaming of one day owning it. Yea, I have been a tool junky from a young age.
I did end up purchasing smaller sets of craftsman tool on sale but over the past 15 years have lost faith in quality replacement . I also went many years without buying tape measures as they once had excellent replacements, not any more.
I hope they turn it around but I won't hold my breath.
My name is David....I worked for Black & Decker designing and manufacturing power tools starting in 1981.
As I read through this thread it is indeed with mixed emotions. I joined B&D in 1981 as an electrical engineer / designer. In Brockville we manufactured consumer power tools of all sorts. We were some what vertically integrated. At the time B&D was called the "Black & Decker manufacturing company". Universal motor manufacturing was one of our core competencies.
Besides being the electrical lead, I also ended up owning the vast test lab. We tested all of our competition at the time. Some of the names that pop to mind are Wen, Pet, Skil, Craftsman (mostly made by Singer). Our objective was to at the very minimum meet, and mostly exceed the competition, and above all give the best consumer value.
At one time in Brockville we were producing over 1 million consumer sanders for the global market annually. As well as a myriad other power tools.
We also produced the very popular and versatile Workmate. Millions were made in our plant.
I was also there when B&D bought GE small appliances. Oh My, Now I was making and designing toaster ovens and food processors....and everything in between. There was a lot of consideration that went into how to transition the well known and respected GE appliance brand over to Black & Decker that made excellent value power tools but knew diddly about household kitchen appliances .
And a some point the Company name changer from Black and Decker Manufacturing to... well Just Black and Decker, as it transitioned into more of a marketing company.
And just before I retired in 2011 there was the Stanley merger.
I have no idea how the Stanley B&D > Craftsman deal will go. They could milk it to the ground, or they could restore it to its former glory.
However as I sign off from this. I can tell you that when I was on board I was empowered to give the utmost customer satisfaction.
I no longer purchase Craftsman, and I have a full Craftsman chest and roll away filled with Craftsman. Unless you buy their industrial or pro line or whatever the hell they call it......Taiwan or Chinese junk. S-K for me now.
In my opinion, their power tools are weak consumer grade junk. (I destroyed a hammer drill of theirs in one use....but at least it came with a schnazzy carrying case). DeWilt has moved some of their product manufacturing back to the States....they get my dollar. Heck, Millsucky is all Chinese or Taiwanese now......
David, I've owned several B & D power tools and appliances over the years. I couldn't tell you how many Spacemaker coffee makers I owned over the years too. Keurig took over a few years ago, no more B & D.
Back in the mid 1980's dad was doing mold repair work for a local rubber manufacture up near Conroe north of Houston. Craftsman changed the life long designed belt sander and turned it into a piece of crap. Anyways, the mold that was used to mold the driven roller had about fifty cavities crammed into mold with only about a 1/4" wall thickness between each cavity. They were getting about 75% scrap from each batch run. Dad had the job of stripping the rubber from the shafts of the roller so they could re-run the part. The rubber company kept telling Sears, actually the sub-contractor, that the mold was screwed up and needed to be remade with the cavities spaced future apart. Wasn't long, they pulled the business and moved it to Florida. A few years later, the made in Taiwan stuff was starting to fill the shelves at Sears!
Edit: Dad bought a $9.99 B & D 3/8" electric drill that we used to build our house with back in 1971-1972. It was still working when we cleaned out the family homestead in 2004! The scrap man that was helping us clean up got it!
I would swear that I have had tools from most of the companies out there from the old Milwaukie brands, to Black & Decker, Skill etc. Seems the old ones would hold up if you did a little maint every once and a while. But the newer ones just do not hold up as well. Same with the hand tools, It did not matter if I was working around the house or in the dealership, I used the same tools, and they worked or I took them back. I had a set of old Proto that must have slipped through the cracks as they were soft and spread when you put much torque on them But they replaced them without a problem. I have had some good stuff from most of the old companies and some bad stuff from them as well. But most of the newer stuff is Cr__ and does not hold up as well. I still go to garage sales and swap meets to find tools that I like. also use to you had one or two grades of tools, One was more finished and better feel, and the other was the less finished and more clunky. but they both held up the same, Any more I have broken even the PRO versions on stuff that I don't think the old stuff would have blinked at.. I would love to get hold of the people that stole all of my old tools, because I wound up getting a bunch of new stuff that never has seemed to be all that good.
I will get off my horse, but I hope this merger does something in the right directions or we are just going to keep getting worse tools.
Hopefully, when B&D takes over, they'll improve Sears Customer Service while they're at it. I had an experience recently that suggests they need to work on it.
I own a 1/2" drive Sears torque wrench that I've had for quite a few years. The the collar or ring that locks the handle was plastic rather than metal, (a perfect example of
bean counter driven cost saving) which resulted in a broken ring not long (but out of warranty) after I bought it. (Lifetime warranty only applies to hand tools.)
So, I just ignored it and used it without locking my settings.
Recently I though I would get it fixed and have it calibrated at the same time since it's never been done. Due to it's age, I wasn't sure if they could fix it, but I
thought I'd give it a try. So, torque wrench in hand, I trotted down to the Sears Service Center in Portland, to discover that it's gone, replaced by an auto parts store.
I called Sears Customer Service from the car to find out what the next step would be. After trolling through the usual menus and having a chat with the nice computer
generated voice, I got through to Human #1, who had no idea how to service the wrench. I was transferred to another number, where I went through the same routine
until I spoke with Human #2, who also didn't know the answer. I was then transferred to another number, where Human #3 confidently informed me that my local
Sears store could help me out. Called the store and was transferred to the tool department. where I was told that they had no idea how to get my wrench serviced,
but indicated that they could not help. Suggested calling Customer Service. So I did, again, and got through to someone else, that informed me that the tool departments
definitely could help me out. Suggested calling a different store, which I did. The tool department guy at the second store told me that there is no service or repair
available for tools outside the warranty period. If it's in warranty, they replace it. Out of warranty, they'll be happy to sell you a new one. The fact that it's too old to
repair doesn't completely surprise me, but it took talking with 6 people to get the answer.
What are the chances I'll buy another torque wrench, 0r anything else from Sears in the future?
Sounds like a similar experience that I had. I bought a Sears Craftsman digital torque wrench a number of years ago. It torqued a handful of cylinder heads, but mostly lug nuts. After about a year, the ratchet head broke internally. It would just spin freely in either direction. I took it to our local Sears store (where I bought it), and was informed that torque wrenches have a 90 day warranty. They would send it in and have it repaired and re-calibrated for $150. Since I didn't pay that much for it new, I didn't think that was a very good deal. I licked my wounds, and walked across the street and bought a Harbor Freight 1/2" torque wrench for $19. It has worked flawlessly for many years doing the exact same thing the Craftsman did. BTW, the HF torque wrench does have a lifetime warranty. That is the reason cheap tools are gaining popularity. I paid more than 7 times as much for an American made brand name tool. It failed to perform, and the company wouldn't stand behind it.
As I mentioned above, Stanley/B&D has an opportunity to fix this. If they do, I will once again become a loyal customer. Time will tell.
I was always a very loyal Craftsman customer, and it began while I worked for Sears while I was in high school. I bought my first set of tools and a tool chest from them in about 1975 or 76.
About 20 years ago I stopped at a tool store next to a truck stop in Indiana and purchased two 'Michigan Industrial Tools' click style torque wrenches, one in 3/8" (inch-pounds) and one in 1/2" (foot-pounds). Granted, they are not the new digital ones, but they have worked flawlessly and have been used quite a bit. I have been pleasantly surprised by these cheap import tools.
A couple of years ago I needed an inch-ounces torque wrench for working on the wife's car. I ended up purchasing a CDI dial type for about $150, but considering the money I saved in labor costs to get the car running again, it was worth every penny. Found out afterward that CDI is who makes them for Snap-On and Proto. I bought it through McMaster-Carr for about $50 less than through Proto, and about $100 less than what Snap-On wanted for the same torque wrench.
Looking forward, I hope, like many others, that Stanley / B&D can improve things in the Craftsman line. If they can, I will consider being a more loyal customer too.
It's not just the Craftsman tools, it's the entire Sears experience that bums me out. I went in looking for a couple of pairs of slacks, a while back. Not a salespeson to be seen, and the slacks looked like they had been picked over for days, and never refolded or stacked. I asked a cashier (the only person in sight) if she could call someone to help me. Fifteen minutes later, nobody showed up, so I left. Went home, got on Amazon, and had my slacks two days later.