The trouble with that notion is that changing the design of mass-produced
products is a huge undertaking--the Sears contract would have to be a major
portion of Bosch's total sales for it to be worthwhile to retool to meet
their price. The Chinese, who seem to be doing just about anything to get
presence in the US market, are another story, but it's hard to imagine the
Chinese finding new corners to cut on their tool manufacture.
It is hard to image what new corners could be cut if you think of
making the most bottom of the barrel product possible. But that's not
what has to be done. If Craftsman/Sears were to use the illusion of
selling a tool that *looks* like a Bosch/PC/Milwaukee, then one only
need to make one just like it inside and out, except make the
I find it very easy to believe that a company may be willing to sell
themselves and build a few tens of thousands of units for Sears with
Sears's price point requirement. Bosch or Porter Cable would know
what to do to meet the cost requirement.
It would cost more to retool to make 10,000 units than would be saved by the
It's not a matter of "knowing what to do", it's a matter of stopping the
line, tearing out tooling and machinery, installing new tooling and
machinery to produce the new design, restarting the line, making the run,
and then repeating the whole process again to go back to regular production.
Making design changes with hand-made one-offs is easy, making design changes
in something that is mass-produced is not a trivial undertaking and has very
significant costs. Further, most of the cost of making just about anything
is labor--substituting pot metal for aluminum won't reduce the labor.
You're far far of the mark.
I work in engineering in exactly the kind of situation you're
expounding on. My company makes many thousands of any particular
It is in fact not especially difficult to make changes within any
particular product to cheapen it.
30 years of my life are invested in product design and development.
Don't hand me that line of crap. It is in fact extremely easy to make
changes and substitutions that result in real cost savings for the
manufacturer without inordinate expense to do so.
If I may, I think you have to put what he said in context.
Consider a factory in China pumping out billions of identical tools:
Everything is pretty much the same except for the colour of the plastic and
the badge they stick on them before they're boxed.
I agree that it would be far more expensive to retool the line in order to
"cheapen" something for (in this example) Sears, than it would be to just
keep the line going.
We're talking mass production here, and the *real* savings are in the "mass"
part: It make no sense to create a different product to make it cheaper:
They're already smokin' them out the door as cheaply as possible.
The changes I mean are not in changing the form of a housing for
example, that *is* difficult and time consuming to do.
What I mean (for example) is to buy a group of motors from the motor
supplier that use sleeve bearings instead of ball bearings. Or use
less expensive batteries. Maybe use more regrind in the plastic. Or
simply pack fewer accessories.
That's what I mean. From my design end of the process, there are a
lot of things to do.
However, I work at a place that doesn't make bottom of the barrel
products, so it's obvious to me how to help them get there.
I will agree to a point with my last paragraph:
Of course if the starting point of the product being debated is
*already* at the bottom, then it would take a little more ingenuity to
wring even more savings from it, and that may not be worth the effort.
If your company makes "thousands" you're probably using NC machines. That's
semicustom manufacture. Get to real high volume and you'll find that
purpose-made tooling is used, the changing of which isn't cheap.
This is true. Later, I said that I would consider the router that's a
bosch rebadge, but only for a steep discount. Whenever this topic
comes up, I'm reminded of the "alpine" car stereos that were available
in honda civics and accords back in the late 80s/early 90s. They were
alpine in name only. Honda paid for the name, then alpine built them
to honda's standards which were more about economy and warrantees than
sound quality. So when sears rebadges any tool, I have to wonder if
it's really the *exact* same tool just with a red plastic case instead
of a blue one or whatever. The temptation has to be there to put in
cheaper bearings or weaker motors. It's not a bosch after all, right?
It's a craftsman now. But maybe people will assume that it's the same
as the bosch, thereby leaching some brand trust from bosch when it
isn't deserved. So bosch isn't risking anything by making a cheaper
tool for sears. They have plausible deniability. And sears only
stands to gain.
To make matters worse, quality is just a dial that the chinese
factories turn. The saws may all be coming from the same factory, but
they're definitly not built to the same quality. Bearings, paint
thickness, paint job quality, tolerances, whether things are balanced
or not before being put on, de-flashing on the castings. There's a
huge number of steps that can be skipped, corners cut. So not all
brands are created equal, even when coming from the same assembly line.
So it all comes down to trust. Do you trust the store/brand to live up
to an expected level of quality? then do you trust the store to stand
behind the tools when there's a problem?
I would buy a ryobi before a craftsman. Mainly because I wouldn't have
to deal with sears with the ryobi.
...or maybe experience. And they're changing for the better these days
which makes the situation even cloudier. Since some of the tools are
turing out to be great, while others are still junk. How can you know
which this new tool is?
They're charging less than bosch for what looks like the exact same
router. Is bosch charging even more than too much? Is sears charging
the right amount while bosch is too high? Is it even the exact same
router? It's priced where it will sell. It doesn't matter what we
think. So if the price is too high, that means that the craftsman name
still (unjustifiably) carries a premium, possibly from people
remembering them from 30 years ago.
Uh, the regular price from Sears is 219.00, the Coastal Tools price on the
Bosch is 209, and Bosch is including a router guide that's worth about 40
bucks. So Sears is not charging less than Bosch unless you're talking
suggested retail on the Bosch or the sale price on the Sears that is only
good through tomorrow.
I caught it (Bosch/Craftsman router) on sale about a year ago for $179, then
got a Craftsman club 10% off of that, then another (Sears retiree) 10% off
of that. :)
PS, No! I did not get the extended warranty.
If it's a "Craftsman Professional" and looks just like a Bosch except for
the colors and the nameplate then it's almost certainly a Bosch. For a
while they were selling a rebadged Bosch jigsaw too.
Nice thing about Sears is that they buy a ton of parts for whatever they
sell and hold onto them until the use up the stock. I can still get parts
for my old radial arm saw, while Bosch USA doesn't even know that the jigsaw
I got at the same time ever existed.
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