No, it’s not a new jazz band; it’s a trio of executives from Freud tools that we got lucky enough to catch together the other day. We called Russell Kohl, vp of marketing and sales, while he was in a meeting with Nino Ruggiero, president of Freud/U.S., and Jim Brewer, vp of operations. They were talking about their new line of premier saw blades.
Russell explained that they designed these new higher end blades because woodworkers were telling them that they wanted just one accurate, all-purpose saw blade. They didn’t want to be forced to continually change blades, says Russell, and they wanted quality. “They’re getting more precise and accurate,” says Russell of woodworkers these days. “Users are buying higher and higher end tools, so the demand for a better blade is increasingly out there.”
Nino has noticed the same thing. He says there is a growing segment of woodworkers that are looking for more accuracy and capability from their tools. And finding out what customers are looking for has been a very profitable journey for Nino and Freud. Many of the ideas-like low noise blades and Teflon coated blades-have come directly from suggestions he’s received at woodworking shows from woodworkers.
All three of these tool guys came into the business from different directions. Nino was born in Italy, though he’s spent a lot of his life in the U.S., and Freud’s headquarters are located in northern Italy. He’s been involved in the business since 1982 and was a friend of the previous president of the U.S. operations. Russell has been involved in the tool business since college. He got a job with Black and Decker right after graduation, worked with DeWalt for a while, and later signed up with Freud.
Jim is a design engineer and had been using Freud’s blades for years. So when he was offered a job there, he jumped at the chance. His first love has always been woodworking and he’s been in the shop ever since he could remember. “I basically grew up in my grandfathers cabinet shop and have been doing woodworking all my life. I don’t ever recall not doing it,” says Jim.
So what’s in the future? Jim says that the evolution of carbide is continuing and Freud is keeping apace. He anticipates that blades will continue to get sharper and stay sharper longer. The company has looked at ceramic blades and cutters-ceramic router bits in particular-but Jim says they are still in their infancy. They are still cost prohibitive for hobbyists and the quality just isn’t there yet, he says, but they will keep their eye on this new technology.
– Bob Filipczak