Sell Stanley Black and Decker
It is often said that a company that fails to innovate, will lose its edge and your money. Ok maybe it is not said that often, or maybe just this once, but who cares the point is the same. We certainly often look for innovative companys to invest in.
At issue with Stanley is table saws. Among other things, Stanley makes perfectly servicable table saws, as does Hitachi, Ryobi, Makita, Bosch, Sears and a host of other names. A table saw is not a complex device. Attach a saw to a drill and clamp it under a picnic table and off you go. You can reduce the wobble of your blade, change the size of the table, use a bigger blade or motor but so can your competitors. The design has not changed for decades, in fact the only "innovation" with table saws in at least two decades is cheap foreign manufacturing and no payments for three months at Christmas time. And cheap foreign manufacturing works. I paid $99 for my low end table saw a few years back, and they are still less than $150. But nothing really sets one brand apart from another, the quality of each brand at each price point is basically the same. In fact if you had asked me two days ago what the next big innovation in table saws would be I would have been at a loss for ideas to offer you.
Until yesterday. Yesterday I learned that a fellow named Gass had invented and patented a device to stop a saw blade cold when it contacts human flesh, before it can cut 1/8th inch into that flesh.
And I learned that mismanagement at Stanley had decided that they could not sell this device onto a cheap table saw for an additional $160. And apparently they were also not interested in adding $160 to the cost of a $1200 table saw either. This is despite the fact that Gass, without the benefit of cheap foreign labor or mass production has sold table saws with this device installed for $2500. It must have been a safe mismanagement decision to blow off the opportuntiy to have something none of your table saw competition does. You certainly don't want to stand out in a crowd or anything when you are trying to sell product. I learned about this because Gass is a prick and is trying to get the Consumer Products Safety Commission to mandate that all the saw manufacturers buy what he could not sell to Stanley. And I was told of testimony to the CPSC that I decided to read for myself - due diligence, investigative reporting, too much free time for my own good - whatever the reason I went and began reading it. It took me 25 letters to reach six that were in favor of mandating the installation of Gass' device on all saws. And I learned that contrary to rumor, five of the six had never been injured. The sixth was even upset that he could not get a $2500 version because he had to go on a waiting list. Of the nineteen remaining letters, all against mandating the device, I learned that only three did not want the device. The rest only wanted freedom from mandates.
It is possible that Stanleys mismanagement team is so in fear of failure, that they cannot reach for opportunity and prefer to hide in the crowd. Even though 25% of the saw buying market says they want to pay $160 for the safety this device offers. And more people might be willing to - if they are not forced to by Government. Stanley does not have 25% of the table saw buying market today , and their mismanagement team has decided they will not have 25% of the market tomorrow either.
There are probably many of us Fools that have used table saws in the past, either as hobbiests, for home improvement, of professionally. And all of us probably get a little more careful as our fingers get near that spinning blade, a little more fearful. It is that understanding of the danger of that blade that makes us clean debris from underfoot, keep our weight balanced and not pushing in on the piece we are cutting, standing aside of the alignment of the blade, not in the line where objects are thrown. It is that moments awareness thats makes us have a push stick comfortably at hand for the last 1-2 inches of the cut.
And I bet it is that moment that will make some of us Fools look at this video and say to ourselves, ' I'd pay $150 for that'. But Stanley's mismanagement team has made sure it won't be Stanley we pay.