Ok, so maybe the most anticipated announcement had nothing to do with tools, but rather with the unveiling of the M12 heated jacket in camouflage. But Milwaukee has once again surprised us and gone the route of tool revolution instead of just tool evolution, and is bringing to market a new product that will increase productivity for building maintenance dramatically. When the curtain is lifted on this new product, we will tell you more. But be on the lookout for it, because it solves an issue that all of us have struggled with.
The M12 jacket will now sport a hunter friendly version. Milwaukee partnered with Realtree and the new jacket model will feature the AP pattern from Realtree. The
new addition to the M12™ family follows the Fall 2010 launch of the very
popular red M12™ Heated Jacket to satisfy mounting user requests to expand the
jacket line to include gear for activities off the job site like hunting and
The irony of the new jacket for me personally was at last year’s event, I asked our friend and Milwaukee CEO, Steve Richman, about additional color offerings. Steve answered in Henry Ford fashion, you can have any color you want as long as it’s Milwaukee Red. My follow-up question was more rhetorical than journalistic, Milwaukee Red will be very popular in Boston, but not in New York, or in Auburn, Alabama and so forth. Now when you can joke around with the CEO of one of the World’s premier tool manufacturers, you have either arrived or you are dealing with a company that operates differently. Trust me when I say I have not arrived. Milwaukee is different. Milwaukee Tools has a mission. I credit Steve and his executive team for determining where Milwaukee needs to go and what its mission is, and then letting his tactical managers and engineers have the resources needed to get to that point.
I grew up in an engineering world and the son of an executive who happened to be a naval engineer. I saw what happens when the executive level loses its grip on what its role should be. Milwaukee doesn’t have that issue. There is a clear cut mission statement and Milwaukee’s team has bought into it. I know machinery and I know what advanced machinery costs. Milwaukee has invested heavily in it. And the time from prototype to market has been greatly reduced, because of its investment. Any management team can come up with lofty goals to pass down to its underlings, damn few give their engineers and managers the tools to accomplish them. Milwaukee has provided the tooling and will reap benefits from its investment.
And as much as I would like to take credit for the new camo jacket being offered, Steve told me that when I pushed the point last year, he was in negotiations with Realtree. So I had to ask Steve this year, when are my matching M12 pants and gloves going to be offered. he just shook his head and laughed. For those of us in the media, we had a rare opportunity to have a casual lunch with the CEO of a major manufacturer and ask questions about the industry and where it has been and where it is going. Richman has worked at various tool companies in his career and he brings that experience to Milwaukee. He has seen mistakes made and like any good CEO, he doesn’t have all the answers, but he knows what doesn’t work and is not going to allow time to be wasted on chasing rabbits, just because there are rabbits everywhere. Milwaukee will continue to focus on its core group of users and continue to innovate products that solve issues for those core group users.
We will highlight some of Milwaukee’s new additions in coming weeks and as embargos are lifted. Look for news in hand tools, measurement, cordless and here is a unique idea, a corded tool improvement. The corded tool news is unusual. It seems cordless had dominated the press for several years and I understand that. But I approach cordless tools, like I do electronics, knowing this years cordless tool will be obsolete in a year or two. However when I buy corded tools, I am expecting them to last me a lifetime.
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