Let me say this at the outset, I have been on many plant tours in my career. So when I was invited as part of one of these media junkets to visit DeWalt’s Charlotte, N.C., plant, I really didn’t have any expectations.

What I didn’t realize is I would walk into a manufacturing facility and learn a lot more than just about the hand tools and power tools DeWalt was unveiling. Although I will get to those tools and accessories that would surely make Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor give a grunt or two, I want to talk about the company’s take on “Built in the USA.”

Candidly, I was personally thrilled to see DeWalt making such a strong public statement with its built in the USA with global materials program. It is very impressive to witness the enthusiasm of the employees and what they are trying to accomplish. More specifically, I am surprised by how much sentiment exists inside the plant around bringing products back to the U.S. and how the products are made in this facility.


During the past couple of decades we have witnessed the harsh reality of losing many productive U.S. manufacturing jobs.

As a result, manufacturing in the U.S. dropped considerably and manufactured products still remains relatively low. We have become a society that imports more than we produce. Simply speaking, we no longer are known for how we make stuff and things.

This is a topic that has been debated by many for years, and it’s only recently that companies have been rethinking the true costs of outsourcing. And as time has progressed, this path taken has proven not to be as profitable as anticipated for many corporations.

Big box retailers demanded more out of their partners. They wanted quick turnarounds and overseas suppliers have not been able to fulfill these requirements. At the very least they were not sustainable. This in turn forced many manufacturers to reconsider this overseas strategy.

Now we have begun to see a shift back to the U.S. The U.S., which was once a manufacturing powerhouse, many believe, can be once again.

DeWalt is one of many companies that has shifted its thinking and to start the effort all over again. And that means onshoring. Ultimately, that means bringing manufacturing stateside.

Keep in mind in 2004 manufacturing used to make one-fifth of the gross domestic product (or 20%) and was once responsible for 15 million jobs in the U.S. It also supports another 8 million jobs in other sectors and it accounts for 62% of all research and development. Today, the U.S. manufacturing is responsible for 12% of the GDP (gross domestic product), and 12 million jobs in the U.S.

While manufacturing has steadily declined, it is still critical to the growth of the economy. Therefore, when I toured the Charlotte plant I saw a real enthusiasm for manufacturing once again. I saw a plant that was not focusing on making electronics.

Rather, here is a company that was assembling cordless drills and a host of other products that were once being produced in Mexico.

This 75,000-sq.ft., facility in Charlotte is being used to assemble, package, and ship tools that even the most committed contractor would drool at the tool or at least grunt with pride.

Yes, we are talking about the pride that comes with knowing you are using a pretty cool tool, but one built in the USA. Oh, did I mention, I had the opportunity of building my very own 20 volt max-speed brushless hammer drill.

DeWalt has seven facilities in Connecticut, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Indiana, and Tennessee, making some 14 million of its most popular hand tools, power tools, and accessories in the United States.

Interestingly, back in September of 2013, the Charlotte facility was mostly empty and an unused distribution space. Now, there’s a motor production line, which added about 350 jobs. Another line will be arriving in a couple of months.

In a day an age of high-tech automation, this plant is all about the human worker. It’s all about the handmade, human-assembled tools. It’s all about the personal touch—even down to the sticker that goes on each and every tool and box.m

DeWalt is giving new meaning to built in the USA. It’s making us all have pride in what it means to have products that say built in the USA. It just might give you a reason to give it another look if you ever need a hand tool, power tool, or whatever.

DeWalt, like many other leading American companies, is trying to do just that.

For me personally, it was nice to see DeWalt, like many other companies, recognize manufacturing is vital to providing economic wealth for this country.

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