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Dewalt first announced their ToughSystem modular tool box system in mid-2011, and the line’s first tool boxes and accessories launched soon after that.
In recent years, they’ve been expanding their ToughSystem 2.0 tool storage system, which is largely backwards compatible with very few exceptions.
Tool brands don’t often talk about sourcing and production details, but there are usually clues.
So who makes Dewalt’s ToughSystem tool storage products?
Back in 2011, Stanley Black & Decker and Dewalt had their Israel-based storage product team lead on-site to introduce the ToughSystem at a luncheon media event in NYC.
All signs pointed to ToughSystem being an in-house designed and manufactured product. And if ToughSystem is designed and manufactured in-house at Stanley Black & Decker, the same could be said about their other tool boxes and organizers, T-Stak lines, and other such products.
Let’s go back a bit.
I used to like a particular style of Stanley removable compartment organizer. I sought it out years ago, and at that time I noticed it had ZAG co-branding.
ZAG Industries Ltd was a Israel-based plastic tool box and related products manufacturer that Stanley agreed to acquire in 1998. News reports from the time say that Stanley acquired 90% of the company, with ZAG’s founder holding the rest of the shares.
Business profiles, such as via Glassdoor, describe ZAG as being “The world’s largest maker of plastic toolboxes.”
According to an article by Plastic News, ZAG did not expect their operations to change following the takeover by Stanley Works, and that Stanley was buying their innovativeness.
At the time (1998) the Plastic News article also said that:
Eight facilities around the world mold for Zag, most of which are subcontractors. Green said Zag does about a quarter of its own molding. Its contract molders include one in Mexicali, Mexico, and Technoplast Industries Ltd. in Barkan, Israel. It also has a distribution center in Carteret, N.J.
The CEO for Stanley Works said:
With our distribution base and Zag’s speed to market and creativity, we intend to capture a significant share of the growing market for plastic storage solutions
This was all 25 years ago, and I could not find much information about how ZAG has grown or been developed since then.
Stanley Black & Decker continues to design, develop, and manufacture certain products in Israel, in addition to tool storage products.
It would be reasonable to think that Stanley Black & Decker has invested funds to grow and expand their capabilities since then.
Now, as you might have caught in the title, I said that Stanley Black & Decker has its own tool box companies. That’s not an error.
Prior to that, Waterloo produced significant volumes of steel tool chests, roller cabinets, mobile workbenches, handheld tool boxes, and more, under their own brand and for Craftsman under Sears.
Waterloo now produces steel storage products for Craftsman and presumably other Stanley Black & Decker brands.
In the industrial sector, Stanley Black & Decker owns Lista and Vidmar storage-focused brands, and also produces storage products for their own Proto brand.
Do they have arrangements with other tool box makers? Possibly.
In 2017, with the announcement of new ToughSystem drawer units, there was mention of Dewalt partnering with Sortimo to develop a van-mounting racking system, but it’s unclear if anything ever materialized from those tentative plans. That at least showed a willingness for Stanley Black & Decker to work with other companies when appropriate.
There has been some cooperation between ZAG and Keter in the past – I found a 2003 news article (via Globes) detailing an arrangement between the two brands regarding Israel’s local market.
However, there’s no reason to think that Keter is in any way involved with Stanley Black & Decker with respect to the Dewalt ToughSystem or T-Stak line of tool boxes.
At the time, the Globes article said:
ZAG is considered the global leader in toolbox manufacturing for the do-it-yourself retail chains, with a 50% share of the world market.
That was 20 years ago, how have things changed since then?
I wish I had a crystal clear view of what goes on behind the scenes, but these things are always murky.
What is clear is that Stanley Black & Decker, parent company to Dewalt, Craftsman, MAC, and other tool brands, has within their corporate umbrella the know-how and in-house capabilities to design, develop, and manufacture plastic and steel tool boxes.