I was always curious what Harbor Freight Tools was all about so I stopped into its store in Danvers, Mass.
Its 700 stores (its number) sells cut rate tools from China, India and other peanuts-for-wages countries. The prices are incredibly low to which its web site will attest.
The tools are gussied with names like Chicago Electric to imply American quality. The power tools I examined bearing such a name were made in China and felt as cheap as their price tags would suggest.
You get what you pay for. A $7 pneumatic tire fitting I bought leaked so much, it is unusable. I shall return it next time I cruise by the store. Also tossed into my cart were a pair of cheap leather work gloves and plastic ties, both of which would be made overseas no matter where they were sold.
Some or maybe most the Harbor Freight tools probably work just fine for a while. One would hope so with things like jacks. You’d probably pay two to three times as much for American versions.
Still, Harbor Freight made me feel smart about buying a high end DeWalt 20v cordless drill recently. The carrying case came emblazoned with a patch dubiously trumpeting “This tool is made in the USA with global materials.”
The slogan struck me initially as double talk until I learned DeWALT has seven manufacturing facilities in the U.S. DeWALT doesn’t have to use use the “with global materials” kicker, but it’s refreshingly honest and realistic. I suspect it’s hard to make anything today without some “global materials.”
Life for Harbor Freight probably won’t change much under the current president-elect who has been beating on companies moving offshore and by extension, foreign made goods. At heart, I am a free trader. But when it comes quality and value, American is hard to beat.