- Features | April 22, 2016
Lessons from a Long-Standing Industry Leader
Being a leader is a responsibility not everyone can take on. It takes flexibility, foresight, and true ability to work with others. For Klein Tools, we’ve remained an industry frontrunner for the past 159 years by supporting our customers, adapting to change, keeping a close eye on demand, and identifying our audiences’ needs. And similar to the electricians and tradesmen we make tools for, we get out what we put in – work ethic is still number one.
Leadership must radiate through our every endeavor, and as such, we’ve identified key areas where success relies on our ability to deliver leading support and solutions.
PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH
True leadership means doing more than expecting others to follow; it’s supporting your peers and being an enthusiastic teacher. At the start of this year, Klein began a five-year program to donate and deliver more than €1 million in tools to electrical apprentices studying at JTL, a top electrical training organization in the UK. We also launched a similar program with Australia training institutions: AIG and Master Electricians Australia.
Klein Tools already has a history of making major donations in the U.S. – sponsoring and supporting tradesmen involved in IEC and donating more than a million dollars of tools and instructional materials to the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) – but we recognized a need to grow our support. Our new donations will help support and encourage young apprentices all over to become electricians. In order to continue attracting people to this great career path, we must do our part in actively supporting the community.
ACCEPT THAT CHANGE IS COMING
It’s easy to find a successful model and stick with it – that is, until it’s no longer successful. Leaders must understand when change is coming, and before falling behind, they need to get out in front of it. Upon recognizing a need for our customers and larger audience to have quality, industrial-grade scissors and shears, Klein acquired Heritage Cutlery, now recognized as Klein Cutlery, an affiliate of Klein Tools. With this transformation, Klein Cutlery continues as the largest U.S. manufacturer of hot-forged scissors and shears for a vast number of markets, including textiles, sewing, poultry, electronics, fiber optics, and pet grooming. This is a great market for us, but one we would have never benefited from without the willingness to change our business strategy and consider new offerings.
Recognizing another need, Klein is making great strides expanding internationally. As a made-in-the-U.S. brand, Klein Tools spent a large part of its history solely serving electricians in North America. To this day, we still pride ourselves on our tools being made in the U.S., but we’ve taken strides to share our products beyond our local turf. We partnered with Super Rod, a leader in wire installation tools, to expand our brand presence in the UK and Ireland. Now, Klein Tools products are available in hundreds of City Electric Stores across both countries. We also partnered with Mumme Tools, Australia’s leading mining tool manufacturer, to introduce Klein’s products with Mumme’s large distribution network. Our tools are now used by tradesmen on a grander, global scale, and as a result, we have a larger, more varied audience providing us feedback and becoming familiar with our brand.
UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE
Consumer dynamics are changing all over, and as such, leaders in each industry must be flexible and sensitive to changing preferences. For Klein, we have sold tools in brick and mortar stores for years, and while this remains a successful avenue to reach many of our customers, it’s fr