At the recent National Association of Home Builders show in Las Vegas, Makita rolled out a slew of new products, most of which were oriented toward Makita’s traditional primary market, professionals and builders. Yet select models have been showing up at big box retailers for several years now. Makita is advertising in amateur woodworking magazines, and more and more of Makita’s professional products are finding their way into basement, garage, and home shops across the country.
We caught up with Vince Caito, Makita’s U.S. marketing manager, to explain the growing popularity of professional products among amateurs.
“The company’s main target is still the professional who makes his living using quality, professional tools every day,” Vince explained, “but we know that lots of serious amateurs are interested in high-quality products, and by seeing our advertising in magazines like Woodworker’s Journal, we hope the amateur will recognize our quality and choose to buy it.”
According to Vince, Makita’s catalog features over 320 power tools, including larger bench tools such as table saws, chop and cutoff saws, and planers, and only a small representation of these are offered at Home Depot and Lowe’s. Most are still primarily available through professional tool outlets, industrial supply stores, contractor suppliers, and other stores that serve the professionals.
What’s the appeal of professional tools? Companies that cater to the home hobbyist build tools that can stand up to the relatively light duty required of them. But professional tools used on building sites and in production are used all day, every day. Though they aren’t the target market, amateurs benefit from the advanced ergonomics and improved performance the professional market demands.
To develop these new and improved products, Makita sends people out to talk with professionals on a daily basis.
“We take the feedback and analyze the applications and jobs, then look at our current tools or design all new tools accordingly and build them. To meet the needs of the professional, every tool must be durable, reliable, and do the job for them day after day.”
“In terms of ergonomics and better performance, there are so many neat things about some of our new tools & especially in woodworking.” Vince noted, “A good example is how we improved the motor in our high-performance routers. By reducing the diameter of the motor and improving fan technology, we took a lot of sound (noise) and a good deal of vibration out of it and made it one of the quietest tools on the market. We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback, especially from women going into woodworking, about how this improvement takes a lot of the intimidation out of using a tool. And by reducing noise levels on our BO6030 and BO6040 sanders, we’ve made it easier to be aggressive and do some really fine sanding without the tedious noise and vibrations.”
“As a company we take pride in building the highest quality motors.” Vince explained, “After all, the company was founded in Japan 85 years ago to build electric motors. In 1958 it introduced its first power tool and began to refocus on tools. And the first Makita tools came to the U.S. in 1970.”
Today, Makita tools are manufactured in seven facilities around the world, including the main United States factory in Buford, Georgia.
What’s in the works? Though he couldn’t be very specific, Vince indicated that some new woodworking tools would be introduced later this year. Makita also plans to add a retail locator to its web site in the near future. In the meantime, the best way to find a local source is to check in the yellow pages under Makita.