My wife told me I'm a dork because I read annual reports (well, that's not the only reason). But really, annual reports contain information that tool manufacturers do not go out of their way to share. For example, Makita is headquartered in Japan but that country is not the company's most important market. Care to guess what their number one market is? Then prepare to be wrong.

Europe is the number one market for Makita tools and outdoor power equipment — and not by a little. The number two market is Other, which includes Central and South America, Africa, Oceania (Australia, etc.) and the Middle East. Okay, so that's a bit of a cheat — everyone knows there's no such thing as "Other". Still, that is how Makita breaks it down. Japan is number three and the North American market (which includes the U.S.) is number four.

This may explain Makita's tendency to introduce new tools first in Japan, then in Europe, and only later in the U.S. Oddly enough, even though we're right next door to Canada, new models usually come out there before they come out here. A friend of mine has been able to get tools "early" by purchasing them online from Amazon Canada.

Here are a few of the things I picked up from the annual report for the year ending March 31, 2012.

Year founded: 1915
Operates in: 50 plus countries
Strangest tool in the report: coffee harvesting attachment for brush cutting tool
Biggest surprise: their Maktec brand, a simple low cost line mostly sold in developing countries

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