Makita vs Milwaukee – Which Tool Brand is Better in 2022

People love their tool “colors”. We know it. Manufacturers know it. Consumers know it. So, what really matters when comparing tool companies? We think a lot matters—particularly how a company approaches the tool development and manufacturing process. When people asked us to write a Makita vs Milwaukee article, they were asking who makes the best tools. But they were also asking us to evaluate the merits of each company’s position in the market, how they make tools, and what they produce that differentiates them as a brand. Here’s our stab at comparing Makita vs Milwaukee Electric Tool Co. to see how the companies match up.

Full disclosure—we don’t expect to come away from this changing anyone’s mind. However, this article may expand what you know (or think you know) about these two giant power tool companies. As always, we have our work cut out for us!

Look for some Makita vs Milwaukee Head-to-Head Action? Check out these reviews!

Makita Company History

Over 100 years ago, Mosaburo Makita founded Makita Electric Works in 1915 in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. The company began by selling and repairing lighting equipment, motors, and transformers. Today, as a global brand, Makita operates in nearly 50 countries with sales in over 170 countries. The company manufactures products at 10 plants operating in 8 countries, including Japan, China, Romania, the U.K., Brazil, Germany, the United States, and Thailand (its most recent plant in 2018). Currently, about 90% of Makita’s manufacturing work (in terms of production volume) is carried out overseas.

Makita produces tools across a wide range of industries. They have specific divisions to address construction and building, cleaning, and landscaping and gardening (OPE).

Makita company manufacturing

The industry saw the launch of the Makita XGT 40V Max tool platform in 2020. This allowed for both outdoor power equipment and heavier-duty tools that could benefit from higher voltage battery packs. On October 30th, Makita Corporation also released a statement that it would cease production of engine (petrol-powered) products at the entire group level on March 31, 2022, stating:

…in response to the heightened awareness of global environmental issues and increasing needs for highly convenient, cordless products, Makita has recently been enhancing [the] development, production, and sales of cordless products that are environment-friendly and will gain popularity.

Munetoshi Goto, President, Representative Director

Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation History

Milwaukee Tool (The Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation) started as an American power tool manufacturer prior to 1924 based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The company has a rich history of manufacturing power tools in America for the tradesman. Since 2005, it has operated as a subsidiary of Techtronic Industries (TTI), a Hong Kong company founded in 1985.

TTI brands include AEG, RIDGID and Ryobi (both licensed), Hart Tools, Empire, Hoover, Dirt Devil, Oreck, and others. As you may imagine, Milwaukee Tool manufactures both corded and cordless power tools. They also make hand tools as well as accessories like saw blades and drill/driver bits.

Milwaukee Brookfield headquarters

As early as 1918, Milwaukee Tool introduced its relatively lightweight Hole-Shooter which was, according to the company, “the first lightweight portable, one-handed 1/4-inch capacity drill”. They further expanded in the 1930s and through World War II manufacturing tools to the U.S. Navy standard. Milwaukee Tool has always had a reputation for quality and this, presumably, had something to do with initiating and then solidifying that reputation.

1951 saw the introduction of the Sawzall reciprocating saw. As recent as 2005, the company kicked off a revolution of lithium-ion batteries—even holding several key patents in that arena. Following that, it did a lot to pioneer Bluetooth tool technology with Milwaukee ONE-KEY. The company has most recently moved into the realm of cordless power equipment with its Milwaukee MX FUEL line of battery-powered products.

Makita vs Milwaukee Main Locations

Makita Worldwide

The headquarters for Makita is located in Anjō, Japan. In 1958, they became the first company in Japan to manufacture and sell portable electric planers. By 1959 they had left the electric motor business and had transformed into a dedicated power tool manufacturer. Going beyond Japan, they established their first overseas subsidiary in the U.S. in 1970—a move that set off their global business.

1958 Makita portable electric planer

In 2005, Makita brought to market the world’s first professional-use electric power tools using lithium-ion
batteries. Since then, they focused on the development, manufacture, and sale of cordless products.

As of April 2021, Makita operates 123 sales and service bases in Japan, augmented by overseas bases in nearly 50 countries, while selling products in some 170 countries around the world.

Makita manufacturing plant

Approximately 90% of Makita tools and accessories are currently manufactured overseas. They currently have manufacturing facilities in China, the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Brazil, Romania, and Thailand. Interestingly, this diversity of manufacturing facilities helps the company address currency, disaster, geopolitical, and other risks, while also quickly manufacturing and supplying products to meet the demands of every region.

Milwaukee Tool Manufacturing

It may come as no surprise that Milwaukee Tool has a rich history of Made in the USA manufacturing. The company conducts most of its research and development in its Brookfield, Wisconsin offices. Milwaukee Tool and its parent, TTI, manufactures both tools and accessories globally, however—primarily in Asia, Mexico, Europe, and the USA.

Milwaukee hole saw factory tour
Milwaukee Hole Saw being manufactured in their Greenwood factory

Many of its popular accessories, including reciprocating saw blades and hole saws, are made in Mississippi facilities located in Greenwood, Jackson, and Olive Branch. Milwaukee Tool also has three Wisconsin manufacturing facilities in Mukwonago, West Bend, and Sun Prairie. Together, these represent critical components of their global manufacturing footprint for their power tool, power tool accessory, and hand tool businesses.

In January 2020, Milwaukee Tool announced it was building a $26 million facility in West Bend, Wisconsin to manufacture hand tools for electricians and linemen. They also plan to expand with a location in Cookeville, Tennessee as well. Just in 2020 alone, the company planned to invest over $100 million and create 350 new jobs in the United States.

Products Milwaukee Tool Manufactures in the United States (abridged list):

  • Step Bits
  • MX FUEL Rocket Tower Light and MX FUEL Drain Machine
  • Corded Sawzalls
  • Large Drills
  • Sawzall Blades
  • Hole Saws
  • Bandsaw Blades
  • Oscillating Multitool Blades (Imperial)
  • Empire I-Beam Levels; Torpedo Levels; and Rafter, Combination, and Framing Squares
  • Empire Caution Tape
  • Milwaukee Rafter Squares and Framing Squares

Internationally, Milwaukee Tool and its parent company TTI manufacturers many of its cordless power tools and battery-powered products overseas in factories located in China, Vietnam, Mexico, Germany, and the Czech Republic.

Milwaukee vs Makita in Number of Employees

Makita Employees

Makita employs 18,624 people with 15,490 of them being “overseas” (outside of Japan). Their number of employees rose 1,534 versus fiscal 2020 year-end, reflecting fairly strong sales. Makita predicts to continue actively hiring and training additional human resources while they expand sales channels in Japan and overseas. Makita also makes very dedicated efforts to respect human rights and ensure good business ethics. It’s a big part of their annual report.

All employees, including part-time employees, are provided with information and training about the Guidelines to the Code of Ethics once a year without fail. This also covers overseas subsidiaries and Makita thoroughly emphasizes respect for human rights across the entire Group.

In order to allow diverse employees to pursue their work with a sense of purpose, Makita offers a work environment that includes a childcare leave program, a childcare reduced-working-hours system, and other programs as part of an effort to create work-life balance. There has been steady utilization of the childcare leave program the company introduced in 1990. In 2021, 43 employees (including 4 male employees) took part in the program and the return-to-work rate after childcare leave was 100% (21 of 21 employees). In 1992, they introduced a childcare reduced working-hours system. 50 employees (including 2 male employees) utilized that program in 2021.

Milwaukee Employees

When companies are owned by parent organizations, it can be difficult to estimate their size. Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation currently employs more than 3,500 people just in North America. Worldwide, Milwaukee’s parent company TTI employs more than 22,000 people. In 2020 Milwaukee Tool invested more than $100 million into its West Bend, Wisconsin facility and others and create 350 new jobs in the USA.

What Parent Companies are Behind Milwaukee and Makita?

Techtronic Industries (TTI)

The parent company behind Milwaukee Tool is Techtronic Industries (TTI). Founded in Hong Kong in 1985, TTI includes the following brands:

  • Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp.
  • AEG
  • Empire
  • Ridgid (licensed)
  • Ryobi (licensed)
  • Hart Tools
  • Imperial Blades
  • Stiletto
  • Homelite
  • Hoover US
  • Oreck
  • Vax
  • Dirt Devil
TTI brands companies

TTI designs, manufactures, and markets everything from power tools and outdoor power equipment to layout and measurement tools, appliances, and even floor care products. The brands under TTI make products used by tradesmen, consumers, and industrial users across the home, construction, maintenance, and industrial markets.

TTI is listed under the Hong Kong Stock Exchange as Techtronic Ind (669) and was valued at HK$76.050 ($9.81 USD) per share on June 17, 2020, with a market cap of HK$139.25 or $17.9 billion USD. In 2020, TTI saw revenues of $9.8 billion with a gross profit margin of 38.3%, attributing its success to the development of new products and expansion across all categories.

Makita

Makita isn’t owned by a parent company. In fact, they have remained fairly simple structurally with the exception of purchases of brands like Dolmar (which makes chainsaws). Structurally, Makita has different business groups that operate in various countries, however, they remain a fairly straightforward organization and brand.

2020-21 sales of Makita products and tools soared due to demand for tools on construction sites and strong stay-at-home demand. As a result, the company recorded its fourth consecutive year of record-breaking revenue in 2021, up 23.5% year on year to ¥608,331 million ($5.27 billion USD).

Makita vs Milwaukee Depth of Line

When comparing Makita vs Milwaukee Tool in terms of product line, you quickly realize both companies make a lot of tools. Makita has over 275 products in its 18V LXT cordless system and more than 50 additional tools in its newer XGT 40V max platform. Add to that 70 or so 12V CXT products as well as corded tools, and you have a company with a wide assortment of power tools in addition to its impressive array of accessories.

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