As a truly global supplier of a comprehensive array of power tools and related products, Makita is working to meet the sophisticated and diverse needs of its customers through its international manufacturing, marketing, and after-sales networks. Backed by these extensive networks and supported by its strong product development capabilities, Makita is striving for further growth in markets worldwide by rapidly introducing innovative, reliable, and high-quality power and other tools. In addition, Makita is contributing to the betterment of the communities in which it conducts business and is promoting various environmental protection activities.
By this time, competition between Makita and U.S. industry leader Black & Decker had saturated that country’s market for power tools to the point that sales growth appeared limited to replacements, parts, and trade-ups. In fact, manufacturer’s sales slid 16 percent from 1980 to 1983. Fortunately, the development of cordless rechargeable power tools established a whole new avenue of growth. After 10 years of research and development, Makita launched its first cordless tool, a drill, in 1978. Eliminating the cord freed the worker from the power source, but early cordless models had several limitations. They were often heavier and less powerful than their corded forebears, had very limited running time, and required long periods to recharge. Though these factors kept cordless tools out of many professionals’ tool chests, they did appeal to the home handyman whose projects were less demanding. Improvements in battery technology throughout the late 20th century boosted power and running time while reducing recharging time. By the late 1980s, Makita’s 9.6 volt family of cordless tools was beginning to find their way onto construction sites.
Overseas Factories Established in 1980s
A variety of factors encouraged Makita to begin to establish manufacturing operations outside Japan during this period. Rising labor and production costs at home combined with a desire to minimize the effect of currency fluctuations and circumvent many trade restrictions while simultaneously reducing shipping expenses. Makita set up production facilities–dubbed “transplants” in business jargon–in Canada in 1980, Brazil in 1981, the U.S. in 1985, and the U.K. in 1991. By the end of 1997, the company’s Chinese factory was churning out over 100,000 power tools each month.
Makita also continued to expand its global presence throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, establishing sales, distribution, and service operations in Spain, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, New Zealand, Mexico, Hungary, and Korea. The company augmented its manufacturing capabilities with the creation of plants in the United Kingdom (1991) and China (1993).
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