DeWalt recently resumed U.S. production of power tools. A select group of 18-volt cordless models are now being built at a 75,000-square-foot assembly plant outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. According to the manufacturer, shifting production to this facility will bring 250 new jobs to the area. Tools that come out of the plant will carry a label that says “Built in the USA With Global Materials”. This means they contain too many imported components to meet Federal Trade Commission standards for “Made in the USA” labeling.
The Built in the USA (BIUSA) line will include more than 600 SKUs for power tools, accessories, and hand tool and storage products. This is greater than the number of individual products because in most cases the same tool can represented by more than one SKU—depending on how it is packaged. For example, there will be four separate SKUs for a recip saw blade that is sold in packs of 1, 5, 25, and 100.
Only power tools will be built in the Charlotte facility; other BIUSA tools will be built in existing SB&D plants in South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Connecticut. A current list of BIUSA tools can be found on the Tools of the Brave website.
DeWalt will build 9 of its most popular cordless tools in the Charlotte plant and then mix and match them into various kits. Some will also be sold bar. The 18-volt models will take older style (XRP) battery packs.
- 20V MAX Compact Drill/Driver (DCD780)
- 20V MAX Premium Drill/Driver (DCD980)
- 20V MAX Impact Driver (DCF885)
- 20V MAX Compact Hammer Drill (DCD785)
- 20V MAX Premium Hammer Drill (DCD985)
- 20V MAX Recip Saw (DCS380)
- 18V Compact Drill/Driver (DC759)
- 18V Impact Driver (DC825)
- 18V Recip Saw (DW938)
Linear blades, recip saw and jig saw blades, account for a large percentage of the BIUSA tool line. These blades are currently being produced at a plant in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Some of the company’s plastic tool boxes and tool cases come out of a plant in Cheraw, South Carolina—and there are plans to eventually produce injection-molded tool housings there.
Tool companies that sell in the U.S. typically avoid mentioning overseas production, but in a surprising burst of candor, the FAQ on the DeWalt Tools of the Brave website states where some imported components are from. According to the FAQ, batteries for the cordless tools assembled in Charlotte will come from China, Mexico, Japan and Korea, and the chargers will come from Thailand, China, and Taiwan. It goes on to say that the company currently manufactures tools “in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, China, Italy, the U.K., Czech Republic, and other locations”. That tools and components come from so many different countries is typical of the way large multinational tool companies operate.
One of the more interesting questions (#17) in the FAQ has to do with the price of BIUSA tools. According to DeWalt, bringing the production of certain tools back to the U.S. will not result in higher prices. Given the experiences of the last 25 years, this may be hard to believe, but there are good economic reasons why SB&D and others are bringing some production back this country. Wages are skyrocketing in China; they’re still just a fraction of what wages are here but U.S. productivity is so much higher that things are starting to even out. This is especially true of products that require a lot of energy to produce because the oil shale boom in the U.S. and Canada gives our industry a leg up on the rest of the world. Add to that lower shipping costs, reduced wait time, and fewer hassles dealing with folks overseas and you can see why companies such as DeWalt are on-shoring some of their production.
Let’s hope this is just the first of many announcements from many tool companies about production coming back to the U.S.