Dan Perry's early view of power tools started as a young framer -- from about 8 feet up. "I worked my way through school as a carpenter," Perry says, "walking top plates on a framing crew." You could say his perspective has grown some since then. Now, as president of Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp., he's responsible for everything from new product development to recent global brand expansion. And like a lot of company leaders, Perry is part player, part coach, and part visionary.

Preserving the company's heritage on one hand, and positioning it for the future on the other, are at the core of his mission. At 77 years old, Milwaukee is one of the oldest companies in the industry, and people there take the motto, "Nothing But Heavy Duty," seriously. "Our absolute focus is on pros," says Perry. "We're the only U.S. company that can make that claim." Milwaukee's distributor training programs, involvement with vo-tech trade schools, and bi-monthly newsletter for its Heavy Duty Club illustrate the company's efforts to get closer to end users.

But product development remains the primary focus. "Every new project is rated on a basis of innovation," Perry says. "We're taking a systems approach to developing a full line of tools and accessories that are right for each job." Perry says the innovative tools we've seen in the last year or two from Milwaukee reflect that systems approach, and he plans to drive even more innovation and new products in the future.

Like other U.S.-based manufacturers, Milwaukee is under pressure to control its costs; that urge has led many companies off shore for production. This is a tricky position for the U.S.-based tool companies worried about perceptions. "We see this trend," says Perry. "And while we are making some changes and looking at other areas, we will never compromise on our quality."

Perry hasn't compromised on his career, either. Although he's been with the company for 30 years and has held his post as president for one year, he describes himself as "just getting past the rookie stage." He credits the people around him with helping him lead Milwaukee forward. But there's nothing like committing to an industry like Perry has. "I love this industry,"he says. "It's my life's work."