FactCheck Social Media

Drilling into the facts about US toolmaker Black & Decker and China

2020-05-12 17:17:00

The Statement

As trade and political tensions between the world’s two most powerful countries, the United States and China, continue to escalate during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Facebook post being circulated in the US has weighed into the fray.

AAP FactCheck found multiple examples of the post here, here, here and here with local group, Agenda 21 Australia/COP 2030/Politics following suit. The post declares, “US company Black & Decker leaving China and building 90 million dollar plant in Texas!!!”.

Agenda 21 AustraliaCOP 2030/Politics accompanied the post with a comment: “Yay hallelujah COME ON AUSSIES US NEXT…HOW ABOUT HOLDEN Say no to chinese products! Boycott China and save the planet Earth!”

The group’s post has been viewed almost 19,000 times and attracted more than 230 shares and 790 reactions.

A Facebook post from May 2020
 A Facebook post claims US firm Black & Decker is leaving China and building a $90m plant in Texas. 

The Analysis

Toolmaker Stanley Black & Decker announced on May 15, 2019 it was expanding its US manufacturing operations with a new 39,483 square-metre, $90 million manufacturing plant in Fort Worth, Texas.

At the time of the announcement (pre-COVID-19), the new plant was expected to be completed in late 2020 and projected to employ about 500 full-time employees to manufacture a range of Craftsman tools.

Stanley Black & Decker purchased the US brand Craftsman from struggling retailer Sears in 2017. Illinois-based Sears produce the tools offshore in China to save money. Stanley Black & Decker said newer technology in the Texas plant would keep production costs in line with those in China, according to The Wall Street Journal. Stanley Black & Decker president and CEO Jim Loree said: “When we purchased Craftsman in 2017 we were determined to revitalise this iconic US brand and bring back its American manufacturing heritage.”

In August 2018, Stanley Black & Decker launched Craftsman as a refreshed brand, unveiling more than 1200 products – 40 per cent of which were American-made. Loree told financial news website TheStreet the goal was to produce about 70 per cent of Craftsman’s tools in the US over the next few years.

Stanley Black & Decker employs 61,000 people in more than 60 countries and operates the world’s largest tools and storage business in addition to the world’s second largest commercial electronic security company. The Connecticut-based firm operates approximately 30 manufacturing facilities in the United States, with more than 100 manufacturing facilities globally.

Stanley Black & Decker chief financial officer Donald Allan Jr. provided several details of the company’s China operations in a March 2020 news article which outlined the early impact of COVID-19 on the company’s spring roll-out of tools and other products.

Mr Allan said Stanley Black & Decker’s supply chain in China accounts for 40 per cent of the company’s capacity, equal to $US2.5 billion of parts, components and finished goods. The figure includes vendors that provide parts and components for manufacturing and assembly in the US and Europe and products made in China and shipped to the US and Europe. A Stanley Black & Decker document from 2018 lists 22 subsidiaries in China.

Regarding the Facebook post, Shannon Lapierre, Stanley Black & Decker’s Vice President and Chief Communications Officer told AAP FactCheck in an email the company was not leaving China. “We are and will continue to operate in China, and have manufacturing operations all around the world.”

Ms Lapierre told AAP FactCheck the information in the post was “not a comment that came from our company”.

American flags are displayed together with Chinese flags in Beijing
 Trade tensions between China and the US have continued to escalate during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Verdict

Based on the evidence AAP FactCheck found the claims of the Facebook post to be partly false. It is true toolmaker Stanley Black & Decker announced in May 2019 it would expand its US manufacturing operations with a new $90 million manufacturing plant in Fort Worth, Texas, however, the claim the company is leaving China is not correct. Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Shannon Lapierre confirmed to AAP FactCheck in an email that Stanley Black & Decker “will continue to operate in China” and the Facebook post was “not a comment that came from our company”.

Partly False – The claim of the content is a mixture of accurate and inaccurate, or the primary claim is misleading or incomplete.

* AAP FactCheck is accredited by the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network, which promotes best practice through a stringent and transparent Code of Principles. https://aap.com.au/