Economy won't stop innovation, says Stanley exec

New York City -- Kyle Dancho, Stanley Black & Decker's president of Hand Tools and Fastening, described product successes and economic challenges during a media briefing here at the Westin Hotel in Manhattan.

Despite the economic doldrums that has decimated the ranks of construction workers -- a key target for the company's products -- Dancho said Stanley is growing. Innovation drives success in hand tools, particularly, he added. 

Of Stanley Black & Decker's $8.4 billion in sales spread across three divisions -- Construction & DIY, Industrial and Security -- more than half is generated by CDIY, Dancho said. And innovation drives sales. 

"Thirty percent of our sales should come from products introduced in the last three years," Dancho said. "That's not a perfect rule. But it keeps innovation at the forefront."

Describing the challenging economy, Dancho pointed to numbers that show 600,000 fewer construction jobs. "That's 2 or 3 million tape rules a year that just don't get sold," he said.

For Stanley, the merger with Black & Decker has allowed both brands plus Bostitch, DeWalt and Porter-Cable to take steps to offset the challenge. One of those steps has been to guide DeWalt into the hand tools category.

The DeWalt hand tools line already has 90 SKUs launched. By the end of the year, the total SKU count is expected to be 130. DeWalt has 19 innovations that it calls "world's firsts," and it has 16 new patents in the line.

The company has focused on balancing the brands, and the targets and the innovations, he said. While there is some overlap, the different brands appeal to different audiences across the home improvement and construction spectrum. For instance, the Stanley brand goes very deep in the channel, and Black & Decker goes "broad and shallow," he said. "Stanley can run the whole gamut; it's admired by the pro and the DIYer."

For DeWalt, the product line comes with theme of "guaranteed tough job-site durability," he said. 

"We try not to take just an existing Stanley product and just change the color," he said. "We did very well on that, but we know we can always do better."

Diversification is another Stanley Black & Decker response to the weak buying environment and extreme market volatility. "Don't rely on any one spot in the world," he said. "Don't rely on any one category."

Currently, the CDIY division has 55% of its sales in the United States. The company is moving toward a 40-60 split, with 60% of its sales outside the United States.