Porter Cable vs SBD Craftsman

So now that Stanley Black & Decker is making the Craftsman line do you think that Porter Cable will slowly go away? Both tools look pretty similar. Is there a need for Porter Cable? Lets start some discussion on this. I’d hate for Porter Cable to go away but I just see some overlap with the cordless.

SBD has been pouring massive cash and R&D into the Craftsman brand while doing almost nothing with PC (new speaker came out a little while ago). I too would hate to see PC turn to dust but walking through Lowe’s you see almost half the tool department is Craftsman and an end cap is PC. Average Joe is going to be so wowed with all the red tools that he will buy them.

I think that PC will continue to have some presence with their corded tools, but that the 20v Max stuff will gradually be shoved aside. SBD seems to be fully engaged in resurrecting Craftsman at Lowe’s, and frankly there’s not enough room for two competing brands from the same parent company.

Incidentally, I stopped by Lowe’s yesterday and noted the Hitachi 18v and DeWalt 12v tools are on clearance–probably to restock with the latest from each system. I also noted that Irwin clamps are out in favor of Jorgensen.

some of the craftsman 20V tools are remodeled PC 20V tools - I suspect you already knew that looking at them.

I hope they keep PC around for corded shop use wood working tools.

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I’ve posted over on the ToolGuyd site many times about what I see as the pickle that SBD finds themselves in regarding Porter Cable. When B&D acquired Porter Cable from Pentair (who had acquired the company from Rockwell International - the Aerospace conglomerate) - they were well on the way to making the Dewalt brand their flagship for professional power tools. Back in what some consider the halcyon days of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s - the US small (as opposed to table saws and other larger power tools) power tool market was dominated by brands like Milwaukee, Skil, B&D and Porter Cable - with Sears-Craftsman sourcing their tools from some of these makers - plus others like Wen. Bosch had little if any presence in the US market - and few had even heard of European brands like Fein, Festool, and Metabo. Dewalt - acquired by B&D in 1960 - was mostly known for their radial arm saws. PC was well respected for their woodworking tools like routers, planers, sanders, lock mortising machines etc. Milwaukee had their sawzall and hole hawgs. Skil was perhaps best known fo their circular saws. Most of the brands seemed to want to have a broad offering of different corded power tools - covering different price points. B&D - maker of some great tools - like the super sawcat - seemed to want to dominate the DIY market - and seeming ruined their reputation as a maker of professional power tools. So they took the Dewalt brand - and made it into what it is today. That left PC as a fill-in brand - and it became even more so after Stanley acquired B&D. With Stanley now owning the Craftsman brand too - it does not bode well for PC.

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I agree with Napalm and believe they will continue Porter Cable for some time, but I also agree with fred it does not bode well for PC. However even as Porter Cable is pushed aside at Lowes SB&D has found new places to sell PC such as Costco and several Auto Parts stores I’ve noticed such as Napa, Advanced Auto and probably others. My issue with the Craftsman stuff is that most of it is PC stuff or below B&D that’s just rebadged and you have look closely to see if it’s DeWalt rebadged. I see no reason to buy the Craftsman stuff at this point. It was basically created for Lowes as a Lowes brand and it gave SB&D yet another battery connector type with reversed polarity and probably a protocol to prevent 3rd party batteries. I have tool liquidators near me and I can get most of the PC version of the Craftsman stuff for 50% off the price in Lowes. I think at some point though SB&D may try to sell the Porter Cable brand, but who knows they have Bostitch and so many other 20V lines.

I was in my Lowe’s last week and saw a Craftsman jointer (in the box) below the Porter Cable display. It’s not on Craftsman website. This tells me that PC is walking dead if they are going to rebadge the bench top tools to Craftsman. Model number on it was CMEW020 if anyone is interested.

With the consolidation or owners (monopoly), and each brand offering complete set of tools its time to recognize that battery operated tools is just marketing and price fixing. As example, the tech industry adopted USB, a universal serial bus, giving everyone in the world access to invention by new vendors of unique product. And with that, computers evolved faster, expanded capability, cost were halved and halved again. It’s time for universal battery connection with a single standard, set by an industry council looking forward to invention and participation of new creative vendors.

@LarryS

It certainly would have been a good idea if the manufacturers had standardized on battery interfaces to start out with - or perhaps when they moved to LiIon battery chemistry. The fact is that they have not done it even within the same family of tools (TTI’s Ryobi, AEG/Ridgid and SBD’s B&D, PC, Craftsman, Dewalt et al.). Their motives seem to me to make money first and foremost on battery and tool sales. I guess that they believe that different battery interfaces will continue to promote brand loyalty. They might also think that the plethora of different battery platforms will frustrate some third-party battery sellers - because the market is so balkanized. I know that they may claim that their interfaces, chargers, circuitry, and hand-shaking between battery and tool and battery and chargers all come with concomitant and special benefits - I suspect that there would be room for them to innovate and differentiate even if there was an industry-wide standard. Of course there is some logic for brands like Ryobi sticking with a backward compatible POD interface - and for others to have abandoned that in favor of slide-in design - but gee a standard slide-in configuration - possibly with some wiggle room (extra unused pins?) for adding features - would be neat.
What I can’t see yet is any compelling reason to think that the situation will change anytime soon. I don’t think that the question will rise to the level of government stepping in to fix a problem they probably do not think exists. The mass market and professional tool buyer is being frustrated by this - but the harm seems hard to monetize enough for something like a class-action lawsuit to be undertaken to seek remedy.

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@fred agree with you on battery branding, there could be some features unlocked by using the tool brand battery like a percentage of higher RPM and torque availability with a brand loyal battery. There are several ways they could go with cross platform batteries and features if they could listen to the consumers.

Ideally, I’d like to see Porter Cable go back to being a above-midlevel woodworking specialty company. SBD doesn’t really have anything in that (admittedly smaller) market segment and some of PCs current portfolio (still making bandsaws, benchtop tools, etc.) would lend itself to that fairly easily. DeWalt has encroached on the area somewhat with their most recent routers and planers, but that brand still seems more construction oriented to me.

The fact that the benchtop jointer got rebranded as a Craftsman doesn’t give me much confidence that things are headed that way.

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Would like to remind you all of the large number of brand names that Ford and GM have had for years. Both manufacturers acquired many other companies over the years. The car companies are masters at marketing. Let’s face it quite literally the only difference between GMC and Chevrolet is a logo, which options are marked as standard, and sometimes a little suspension tuning. Yet both have existed for years and both have given the customer the illusion of having a choice when in fact there is none at all. Sometimes these things only exist because of the uniqueness of the distribution channels, not necessarily the product. Like selling one brand exclusively with electrical distributors and another at home improvement chains, and maybe another at discount retailers. This helps keep margins up by selling good/better/best even though it’s the exact same product just with different markets and different badging. That being said I would agree that at some point you can have inventory problems due to too many brands to support or too many conflicting distribution contracts, and that’s when the list might need to be trimmed a bit.

If you look at the stable of brands that SBD owns, they basically have one or two premium brands, one or two budget brands, and a huge glut of middle-of-the-road brands. I would argue and Lowes shelves are pretty much proving that the sweet middle spot is probably due for some trimming. On the other hand I haven’t seen a proliferation of red boxes (other than Milwaukee!!) at the plumbing and electrical supply houses. Haven’t been in a K-Mart in years nor have I browsed Walmart’s tool aisle so no idea what’s going on there but last time I did, SBD was definitely present and accounted for with the Stanley name.

Taking from the car companies, Pontiac was always the “performance” or experimental brand name for years. There was always one or two unique animals like the Firebird in it along with enough “me too” sedans and coupes to fill out some gaps that weren’t really anything more than variations of other existing GM products, mostly Buick. GM ended it all in 2009.

What is unique about PC? If there is no longer any product differentiation at all, not among the dealer network, not among the products, it’s time to put it to pasture. Otherwise even if it’s pure marketing fluff like replacing the rather boring looking housings with some sharp angled graphics like Hitachi did about 15 years ago, a simple face lift can do wonders for sales. Right now I’ll bet SBD is seeing a bump in sales and trying to feel out what Craftsman does for them. Once it starts to slow down they’ll probably look at the sales strategy for their other lines.

@paulengr

You make a good point with you analogies to the Big-3 automakers. While their sales model was a bit different (new cars only sold via authorized dealerships - and all sorts of prices/fess/deals/incentives mixed into the pricing models) - the idea was that the more brands offered meant increased sales. I think that GM had sales statistics from the 1950’s - when sales and dealerships were expanding - to support this notion. As you say, back then, they also promoted differences between the brands - with Pontiac targeted for performance, Oldsmobile for innovative engines, Cadillac for sedate quality, Chevy for no-frills economy etc. That model also seemingly offered buyers choices - and incentives for opening of new dealerships for different brands in the same market. Perhaps the idea at GM was to outsell Ford - and they thought offering more brands and styles was the way to do it. I may have continued to work if a variety of things (like making some truly bad cars in the 1970’s - and completion from Japan and Europe) had not taken place. To compete - GM realized that economies of scale might help - so engine production was consolidated, other parts and features became more standardized - and the differences between the Chevy to Cadillac lineup may have become more trim and appearance than substance. The public responded.

Back to Porter Cable - you may well be right that it is just a distraction - with little value - for SBD to put more resources into marketing the PC brand and trying to differentiate it from their flagship (Dewalt), their new middle of the road (Craftsman) - and their low-end (B&D) - plus the host of their other brands (like Bostitch.)

You drew a nice correlation between auto manufacturers and tool corporations, with one difference that kind of upholds your observation. Many of the major car companies accumulated the independent makes in the early 20th Century, largely maintaining differences between each brand through the 1970’s and into the 1990’s. For example, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac each produced their own 350ci engine through the '60’s or so, and while some models shared common parts, each marque was considered a different auto line. As cars became more common and expensive to produce (between federal regulations and modern conveniences), the manufacturers simply streamlined more and more of the process. My 2006 GMC Sierra, like previous GMCs, has the leather seat option, whereas Chevrolet used to lack the option. Now, I can get a brand new Silverado LTZ with all of the options of a new Sierra SLT (or whatever the trim levels are called now). For the past thirty years, all of GM’s marques have largely shared not just chassis but also bodies, even to the point of rebadging such fiascos as the Cadillac Cimarron (essentially a fancy Cavalier).

In many ways, you could say that tools are an accelerated version of what happened to automotive companies in the last century. In the late 20th Century through today, the large corporations are snatching up once-independent companies, rapidly turning them into generic brands under the corporate umbrella. At some point, like the automotive industry before it, the number of cloned tool brands are going to have to dwindle. Sadly, Porter Cable and other once-loved brands may have to go the way of Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Mercury, and Plymouth.