Milwaukee Tool adding outdoor power equipment in 2017

Company planning 200 product launches by Dec. 15

Andrew Lentz, right, discusses the new string trimmer.

Brookfield-based Milwaukee Tool plans to launch more than 200 new products between now and Dec. 15 and will also expand into outdoor power equipment in the spring of 2017.

“We clearly believe as a company it’s grow or die,”  Milwaukee Tool president Steve Richman said at a dinner kicking off the company’s 2016 new product symposium on Tuesday.

More than 100 industry media members have come to Milwaukee for the event, which is taking place over three days. Along with the dinner, Tuesday’s events include tours of the company’s Brookfield headquarters. Today Milwaukee Tool is holding hands-on demonstrations of products that will launch in the coming months at the former National Ace Hardware building at North Fourth Street and West McKinley Avenue in Milwaukee.

Those demonstrations included an area for reviewers to test out the new outdoor power equipment, complete with sod, tall grass, hedges and leaves. The company unveiled a string trimmer, hedge trimmer and blower.

“We saw a huge opportunity to leverage our core technologies … and deliver something truly game-changing that the industry hasn’t seen yet,” said Andrew Lentz, Milwaukee Tool product manager.

Lentz said the outdoor tools, which use the company’s M18 batteries, will outperform other 18-volt offerings from competitors and compete with some higher voltage options, while using a battery compatible with more than 100 other tools.

Milwaukee Tool also plans to launch a battery-powered miter saw in September, has improved its battery platform and has upgrades planned to its One-Key system that turns tools into smart devices. Those upgrades include security measures that allow for tools to be locked if they are stolen.

The company also has made entries into lighting, plumbing and other segments in recent months.

Richman recounted the Milwaukee Tool’s journey over the last decade, which has seen substantial double-digit revenue growth year after year, and said the new products unveiled this week would not be the last from the company.

“We are extremely paranoid over our competitors,” he said.

He also told the industry media in attendance that their work has helped fuel the company’s success.

“The negative reviews and the negative viewpoints and the constructive criticism actually help us get better,” he said. “We may not always like it, sometimes we love it, but at the end we get better because of it.”

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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