Craftsman: Made in the USA – Manufactured in China?

Craftsman flagA little more than a year after a judge threw out a class-action lawsuit asserting that troubled retailer Sears knowingly led customers to believe their iconic Private Brand Craftsman Tools are still Made in the USA, the retailer continues to face public outcry.

Part of the mystique of the Craftsman brand was that the hand tools were proudly Made in the USA. But in recent years, Craftsman, like many tool brands, started manufacturing many of their products in China while continuing to run advertising that would lead customers to believe all the tools were still domestically produced.

Since 1927, Craftsman has built its brand on a credibility and reliability that was brought to life in its now legendary lifetime guarantee: if a hand tool breaks, just bring it back to the store for an immediate replacement. The problem? Made in the USA Craftsman brand loyalists are disappointed with what they feel is a violation of the brand promise. They simply do not want to replace their broken USA manufactured tool with one from China because they suffer from the not unfounded fear that the quality will be substandard to what they expect with the Craftsman name. They also resent the fact that the prices haven’t dropped to reflect international sourcing.

This is a great example of a brand promise becoming diluted and true brand loyalists rejecting the change. Yes the Brand Manager, Product Managers and Merchants at Sears should own this brand but they must never forget that the promise, which began 86 years ago, is bigger than them and owned by generations of believers. Betray your believers and destroy the brand.

Several people were so upset by the change that they started petitions on www.change.org asking Sears to stop producing the tools overseas. As of today, one petition has over 4,000 signatures.

The petition started by Tim Godsil of Galesburg, United States reads:

Sears: Stop the outsourcing of Craftsman Hand Tools
Craftsman tools have been around over 85 years. My Grandparents used them, my parents used them, and I have used them. People use Craftsman because of their value, and more importantly, being made here in America. Recently, the top brass at Sears had decided to outsource the manufacturing of Craftsman hand tools to places like China and Taiwan. The sockets, ratchets, wrenches and other hand tools you buy are now being made overseas. The quality is nowhere near as good as the USA made stuff. Many of us feel that outsourcing further injures our economy. Many corporations have outsourced, and now look at what shape we are in. Many people are no longer purchasing Craftsman hand tools due this outsourcing. Sears, we ask you to quit outsourcing Craftsman hand tools, and ensure they will be continued to be made in USA for many generations to enjoy.



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Christopher Durham

Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan).

Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s.
Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago.

Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.