Checking out a speedboat, a fighter jet and a giant industrial magnet parked on the White House driveway, President Donald Trump showcased an array of “Made in America” products on July 23 at the same time that his administration pushes back aggressively against critics who say his punishing tariffs on imported goods threaten to harm the U.S. economy.
Among the companies demonstrating ‘Made in America’ wares there was a sixth-generation, family-owned company with its manufacturing headquarters in Mansfield: Klein Tools.
Klein Tools was invited by the administration to represent Illinois at this year’s event to highlight the company’s commitment to manufacturing tools and supporting jobs in the United States.
“We’re honored to be invited to the White House’s ‘Made in America Product Showcase’ and to represent the great state of Illinois,” said Tom Klein Sr., chairman of Klein Tools. “My great-great-grandfather founded Klein Tools in Chicago over 160 years ago, and we continue his legacy of manufacturing tools right here in the United States. In fact, no other manufacturer of hand tools used in electrical applications makes more items in America than Klein Tools.”
Founded in 1857, Klein Tools designs, develops and makes premium-quality, professional-grade hand tools used in the construction, electrical, utility and mining industries. Klein Tools has eight facilities in six states, including its corporate office and forging facility in suburban Chicago and its state-of-the-art manufacturing headquarters in Mansfield.
“Over the past seven years, Klein Tools has invested over $200 million in our U.S. manufacturing facilities,” Klein said. “Providing American-made products not only supports our corporate values, it also allows us to maintain the quality that the professionals who use them every day rely on. That’s why we try to keep our manufacturing as close to home as possible, while delivering only the highest-quality products.”
To attract new talent to the fields that use Klein Tools products, the company partners with and donates to multiple organizations that provide training for aspiring tradespeople.
“We are proud not only to be part of driving awareness and support for the American manufacturing industry, but also for the skilled trades as a whole,” Klein said. “We put a lot of resources behind encouraging and training the next generation to enter the skilled trades through our support of technical schools and universities that provide manufacturing, engineering and CNC machining curriculums.
“On a national level, we support the IBEW-NECA Electrical Training Alliance to develop hands-on opportunities for electrical apprentices throughout the country,” Klein said. “We also work with SkillsUSA, an organization comprised of students, teachers and industry partners throughout the country, to help ensure that America continues to have a competitive skilled workforce.”
Through investments in research and development, Klein Tools continues to add new products, including hybrid pliers, heavy-duty wire stripper, long-nose wire stripper/crimper, all-purpose electrician’s scissors and heavy-duty diagonal-cutting pliers.
“We are proud to be an American manufacturer that not only supplies tradespeople with quality products, but also is doing its part to support the next generation of America’s skilled workforce. With more American tradespeople, the stronger America will be,” he said.
Trump’s event came at the start of a week in which trade discussions were expected to dominate, including talks with European officials and a trip to Illinois in which the president planned to visit a community helped along by his steel tariffs
On the South Lawn, the president walked among a number of products manufactured across the nation, including a Lockheed Martin F 35 aircraft, also manufactured locally, a Ford F-150 pickup from Michigan, a Newmar recreational vehicle from Indiana and a Ranger speedboat from Arkansas.
Trump has vowed to force international trading partners to bend to his will as he seeks to renegotiate a series of trade deals that he has long argued hurt American workers. But as he deepens the U.S. involvement in trade fights, it raises questions of whether American consumers will feel the pain of retaliatory tariffs — and whether the president will incur a political price for his trade policies in the 2018 midterm elections.
“Our leaders in Washington did nothing, they did nothing. They let our factories leave, they let our people lose their jobs,” Trump said at the White House. “That’s not free trade, that’s fool’s trade, that’s stupid trade, and we don’t do that kind of trade anymore.”