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Makita USA Announces a Major Change in Leadership

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Makita USA has a new President and CEO, Sean Okada, who will be replacing Terry Nozawa.

This change in leadership comes at what looks to be very hard times for Makita USA.

Makita USA raised prices 3 times between April 2022 and May 2023, laid off 213 people in June, and also closed a US service center.

The recent job cuts were across the board, affecting service technicians, warehouse jobs, design and marketing jobs, sales jobs, territory managers, customer service representatives, retail sales reps, and more.

A reader wrote in, asking for my opinion on this.

Eliot (thank you!) wrote:

I wonder what your thoughts are on Makita USA appointing a new president and CEO, Sean Okada. Seems he comes as a CEO from Makita Australia and formerly was in leadership positions in Makita UK and Makita Dubai.

Hopefully this means more transparency, availability, and innovation.

Makita USA is part of Makita’s North America segment. It is my understanding that Makita USA is responsible for regional sales, marketing, and support, with tool development entirely taking place at Makita’s headquarters in Japan.

Because of this, there’s a limit as to the impact Okada can be expected to have with respect to things like innovation.

No matter how talented a leader Okada might be, there’s no quick “undo” or “reset” button that he can press.

Okada describes the USA as “the most competitive power tool market in the world.”

According to Makita’s public financial statements, Makita North America earns a slight profit most years, and they reported a loss in 2 of the past 5 years. Makita’s North America segment represents a roughly 15% share of their global revenue, but contributes significantly lower reported earnings.

Makita USA has proved that tools don’t automagically sell themselves.

As President and CEO of Makita USA, Okada will be tasked with steering their local marketing, sales, and support efforts – once he stops the ship from sinking.

It is my opinion that Okada will also have to convince Makita’s corporate leadership to invest more heavily in the USA market than they can expect to get out in the short term.

An industry insider recently opined to me that Makita USA is “a dead brand.” While I would agree that Makita USA bungled their marketing in recent years, I don’t think their situation is hopeless. Good leadership could certainly turn things round.

Okada has his work cut out for him.