Photo by Jim Lucy
To market its enhanced line of LED work lights, Milwaukee Tool took quite a bit of floor space in a three-story former hardware store in downtown Milwaukee that was the site of the New Product Symposium and transformed it into a dark and dingy industrial job-site, complete with smoke for effect.

Tool Time in Milwaukee

June 28, 2016
Milwaukee Tool showed off its investments in its 18V battery line and remote tool tracking to more than 100 editors and online content providers at its annual New Product Symposium.

Editors, online content producers and other tool geeks covering the construction trades descended upon Milwaukee, Wis.,  last month for the annual Milwaukee Tool New Product Symposium. Over the next year, Milwaukee Tool, Brookfield, Wis., will be launching several hundred new products, including cable and crimping products for utility applications scheduled for launch in Jan. 2017.

A key theme of the event can be summed up in three words: Cut the cord. Milwaukee is moving aggressively to shift its power tool portfolio from corded products to its lithium-ion 18V Fuel platform, and is consistently improving the run time of its lithium-ion battery technology.

Milwaukee has for years had its Sawzall reciprocating saws, drills, cable cutters, crimpers and other power tools on the 18V platform, but at this year’s event it announced the extension of its LED work light line, which now includes the M12 Rover Flood Light; M18 Radius Area Light; M18 Rocket LED Tower; flashlights; and smaller worklights.

Tom Simeone, V.P. product management for the lighting line, said LED work lights, which Milwaukee began rolling out in 2014, have been a big hit with end users tired of being burned by halogen floodlights, or frustrated with bulb breakage in incandescent work lamps.

Some of the other big news at the New Product Symposium was Milwaukee Tool’s extension of its One-Key app, which allows users to remotely locate, track and control tools.

“The app allows users to identify where and when their One-Key compatible tools were last seen,” said a press release. “Tool records and locations are updated when any device with the app comes within 100 feet of a One-Key compatible tool, allowing the user to pinpoint missing tools quicker.”

Milwaukee Tool also used the event to showcase extensions to its lines of measuring tapes, Empire levels, heated work clothing and job-site storage. Empire Level, Mukwonago, Wis., which Milwaukee acquired in 2014, promoted levels with several interesting features, including an LED-lit bubble vial in the inspection-grade UltraView LED series of box levels and measurement storage capability in the Empire Digital level. Milwaukee Tool  also markets the Red Stick line of levels for its core MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) customers and will continue to  promote and market the two lines of levels. Outside the electrical market, Milwaukee Tool used the New Product Symposium to launch its move into the landscaping market with 18V cordless blowers, weed trimmers and hedge shears.

Milwaukee Tool is in the middle of a big growth surge and earlier this year broke ground on a $35 million, 200,000-sq-ft expansion of its Brookfield, Wis., headquarters in suburban Milwaukee. It expects to hire 300 to 500 new employees in the next three-to-five years in the area. The company has been growing at 20%-plus CAGR clip over the past few years for its owner, Hong Kong-based Techtronic Industries (TTI). TTI owns a stable of brands in power tools, outdoor power equipment and floor care. Other tool brands in TTI’s stable include AEG power tools, Ryobi power tools, Stiletto hand tools and hammers and Hart hammers and nail pulls.