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DeWalt Power Tools the Inside Story

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DeWalt Power Tools the Inside Story


Today DeWalt Power Tools is the market share leader in power tool sales. That has not always been the case .This story is actually a remarkable one and from what I understand is now a Harvard Business case study.

You see DeWalt is a brand name that belongs to the Black and Decker Company. Black and Decker had purchased DeWalt back in 1960. Back then the original DeWalt Company made radial arm saws and not the wide variety of portable power tools you see today. In 1989 Black and Decker sold the radial arm saw manufacturing branch to two executives. At this time Black and Decker which was known as a low end "home owner" "non- professional" tool brand was trying desperately to sell to the contacting and industrial trades. While they may have had limited success with their Black and Decker industrial and professional branded tools they had just a small fraction of the professional tool market share which at that time was highly dominated by Makita Power Tools. No matter what marketing initiatives they tried as long as the Black and Decker name was on the product the professional and industrial market did not take them all that seriously.

So In 1992, Black & Decker started a major effort to rebrand its professional quality and high-end power tools to the DeWalt brand. They designed these new branded DeWalt tools a very eye catching yellow and embarked on an excellent brand building and marketing campaign. At this time the market leader was Makita Power Tools which is a company based in Japan with a manufacturing facility in Buford Georgia. Black and Decker filed suit with the US federal trade commission sighting that Makita and other Japanese power tool manufacturers were "dumping" product into the US power tool market. What did that mean? Well for simplicity sake that meant that if a foreign company such as Makita was selling a product for less in the US market than it did in its own home country. For example if Makita sold a 5007NB circular saw for $120 in the US and they sold that same saw in Japan for $140 equivalent dollars that is considered dumping. What this did was tie Makita up in a court battle for an extended period of time and consume their efforts and they were not able to come out with new and innovative products while DeWalt was gearing up with their aggressive pricing and marketing campaigns. While Makita was the clear leader in the cordless tool market they only went up to 9 volts and DeWalt came out with bigger 12 volt models and then 14.4 volt and 18 volt before Makita. DeWalt was friendlier to the big boxes like Home Depot and other major retailers than Makita which was somewhat difficult to do business with.

In 1994, DeWalt took over the German wood working power tool producer ELU. DeWalt increased their line of tools using ELU's technology. They continued to innovate with new products taking things that worked from companies like Makita, Milwaukee, Bosch and Porter Cable and marketed them better. They later went on to purchase the Emglo compressor company as well as Porter Cable Delta. Currently, DeWalt manufactures and sells more than 200 different power tools and 800 accessories.

While I do believe DeWalt/ Black and Decker produces some fine tools personally I think they were and maybe still are the best marketers in the business, just not necessarily the best tools. I think if you look at some of their tools you probably can't go to wrong but I would bet there is a better made alternative out there from one of the other brands. Unfortunately this so called American company no longer makes any of it tools here in the U.S but you can probably say that about almost all the power tool manufacturers. All about the stock holder profits you know? But I guess that's another story altogether...


The Tool Guru