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About 4 months ago, Porter Cable showed their first signs of marketing activity in several years, kicking off new social media efforts that haven’t let up since.
Their parent company, Stanley Black & Decker, still continues to include Porter Cable in corporate communications – barely. Their power tools messaging is usually focused on cordless growth, specifically for Dewalt and Craftsman brands.
Stanley Black & Decker (SBD) has been using the same chart since 2017, showing Porter Cable being targeted towards tradesmen and professional users at the mid price point level.
Their investor presentations and slides usually don’t mention Porter Cable at all, which makes sense. Without new products, noticeable growth, or any substantial news, there’s nothing really to talk about.
The company’s focus is clearly on Black & Decker, Craftsman, Stanley FatMax, and Dewalt.
Back in 2018, I asked: What Will New Craftsman Cordless Power Tools Mean for Porter Cable? It was around that time when Porter Cable halted their social media activities, with the silence finally breaking 2-1/2 years later in April 2021.
Porter Cable seems to target 3 market segments, which corresponds to what they’ve been posting about on social media:
- Cordless power tools
- Air compressors and nailers
- Woodworking tools
With respect to cordless power tools, there is and has been much overlap between Porter Cable and Craftsman. But to be fair, Porter Cable struggled to find a solid brand identity for quite a few years now, well before Stanley Black & Decker acquired the Craftsman brand.
Porter Cable’s compressors and nailers look to be in competition with sibling brands, namely Dewalt, Craftsman, and Bostitch. What does Porter Cable currently offer that you can’t get from these other Stanley Black & Decker brands?
The brand still has some very good woodworking tools, such as routers, sanders, benchtop tools, and a plate jointer. However, when is the last time they innovated in this space? To be fair, how often do other brands innovate in the corded woodworking power tool industry?
I suppose that Porter Cable is still selling tools and making money (right?), and their renewed social media efforts are likely in support of that.
But are there any new tools coming? Is there any energy or fresh efforts being put into the brand?
The way I see it, there are two explanations for their current social media and marketing activities. One possibility is that Stanley Black & Decker could be shaking things up, with a new strategy for Porter Cable that will become apparent in a couple of months. The other possibility is that they’re just looking to give the brand signs of life, and that nothing new is happening in the background.
Walmart no longer sells Porter Cable cordless power tools directly, as they have their own Hart brand to focus on. Lowe’s has Craftsman, Dewalt Xtreme, and there is also competitive overlap with several brands outside of Stanley Black & Decker’s family.
Home Depot’s website now has Porter Cable cordless power tool listings, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the retailer promote them. Plus, Home Depot also sells mattresses, sofas, and standing desks on their website. While notable, this is not a significant development.
I suppose Porter Cable can still count on Amazon for seasonal cordless power tool sales, but is that really going to sustain the brand?
If Porter Cable suddenly disappeared from the market, would users miss their cordless power tools? Their air compressors and nailers? Their woodworking tools?
I think that the woodworking tools segment is the the one category where Porter Cable can really thrive. In my opinion, that should be the heart of the Porter Cable brand.
From what I understand, Stanley Black & Decker’s brands often share talent and resources. With Craftsman and Dewalt continuing to be hot brands with substantial growth, I don’t blame them for not devoting much energy or attention to Porter Cable. But then why kick-start their social media accounts with new activity all of a sudden?
Do you think that Stanley Black & Decker would ever sell the brand? Now THAT would be an interesting idea.
Can you imagine if Metabo or Metabo HPT purchased the Porter Cable brand and relaunched it as a mid-level pro brand? Or, what if Chervon, the company behind Skil, Flex, and Ego, purchased the Porter Cable brand? That could be something to think about. Bosch has a entire brand of European DIY tools that could possibly enjoy success in the USA under a different brand.
New ownership could bring updated cordless power tools to the brand, as well as refreshed compressors and air nailers. Although, what would happen to the woodworking tools segment?
Look at what Stanley Black & Decker has done with the Craftsman brand name. What might other companies be able to do with the Porter Cable brand name?
What could Stanley Black & Decker finally do with Porter Cable if they devoted even a fraction of the resources they put into their Craftsman relaunch over the past few years?
Porter Cable is and has been a conundrum.
Here’s the hard question – is there any real path towards growth and expansion for the Porter Cable brand as it presently exists within Stanley Black & Decker?
Maybe they’re just biding their time, but for what?
How much longer will Porter Cable chug along, selling infrequently promoted woodworking tools and value-priced cordless combo kits?
How much longer will Porter Cable survive without any new tools, updates, or activity?