John Schiech is a humble man even though he rides herd on a powerfully surging company. He's proud of DeWalt's success, but quick to divert credit to his employees. He's quiet but confident. He's a team builder, but he's definitely the team leader. He's focused. And he loves tools. "I'm a tool guy," he says. "Woodworking is one of my favorite things."
More than 20 years ago, Schiech, a mechanical engineer, started a five-year stint designing new tools at Black & Decker. He followed that with 10 years on the marketing side, and then became vice president of engineering for DeWalt and Black & Decker before ascending to DeWalt's presidency.
"I love this business," Schiech says. "The success is fantastic. But now we're putting pressure on ourselves to keep this thing going." He's referring to the constant flow of new products into the marketplace. "We are a new product machine," says Schiech. "The challenge now is how we continue to launch all these new tools."
DeWalt's been expanding by introducing new tool categories like its own pneumatic tool line. Part of the company's growth stems from acquisitions, too, like its purchases of compressor manufacturer Emglo and laser level maker Momentum.
But producing a steady flow of new products doesn't ensure a tool company's success unless the tools hit their target. And that takes a commitment to end users. Like product teams at many leading companies, DeWalt's tool designers listen closely to tool users. Schiech does, too. "I spend hundreds of hours with end users," he says. "The thing I bring most to my job is my product development experience."