#TBT The History of Craftsman Tools
Craftsman tools have always had a rich heritage of performance and trust. They certainly back it up with their incredible Craftsman Hand Tool Lifetime Warranty. “If for any reason your Craftsman hand tool ever fails to provide complete satisfaction, return it to any Sears store or other Craftsman outlet in the United States for free repair or replacement.” They won’t even ask to see your receipt! How did Craftsman rise to the top of their industry and gain such confidence in their hand tools? For that, you can thank Tom Dunlap.
Craftsman was not Sears’ first line of tools. Sears sold under the brand names Trojan and Fulton. These brands were cheaply made, ugly and made out of cast iron that bent and deformed easily. But these tools fit the budgets of the farmers who made up the majority of Sears’ hand tool customers at the time. In 1927, Sears hired Arthur Barrows to lead the company’s hardware department. Barrows wanted to create a brand name for Sears that stood out among the other manufacturers. There was a company at the time by the name of Marion-Craftsman Tool Company. Barrows liked the name Craftsman and offered Marion-Craftsman $500 for the rights to use the Craftsman name on Sears’ products.
Sears eventually promoted Barrows to become the West Coast Manager and hired Tom Dunlap to take over the hardware department. America was in the middle of transitioning into the age of automobiles and Dunlap recognized that Sears needed a line of tools that would meet the demands of the automotive industry. So Dunlap set his sights on upgrading the quality of Sears’ tools.
To improve the look of Craftsman tools, Dunlap added chrome plating on wrenches and sockets and high impact plastic handles on screwdrivers. This improved the finish, color, trim and overall look of the tool. Dunlap faced great skepticism about his idea but it proved ingenious when the company saw sales increase six times following year.
Craftsman has expanded their line greatly over time, but the high quality standards have remained the same. Craftsman has been rated number one among many consumer reports over the years and they just may continue to be a crowd favorite into the future.