Founded over 100 years ago in 1920, Snap-on tools employs 12,600 workers worldwide and generates $3.4 billion annually. Their high-end tools are used throughout transportation industries such as in the automotive, aviation, marine, heavy-duty equipment, and railroad sectors.
Joseph Johnson and Bill Seidemann founded the company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and with its rich American heritage and premium-tier prices, you may wonder where Snap-on tools are currently made.
Most Snap-on tools are Made in the USA. The company makes most of its hand tools at its facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and they produce other tools at other facilities in states like AR, AL, TN, and NC. Some components, like battery packs and chargers, are made in Taiwan and China.
What Tools Does Snap-on Make in the USA?
We would strongly advise caution with Snap-on since some of the tools that carry a premium price tag weren’t always made in the United States. Many people complained about buying an expensive tool and learning of its origin later. The most popular American-made tools that you can buy from Snap-on include:
- Ratcheting soft grip screwdriver set
- Drill bits
- Micro utility drill set
- Classic tool storage top chests
- Cut off tools
Check the origin ahead of time with each tool to make sure. The thing that we liked about this brand was that they clearly label the origin of all of their products.
The thing that we didn’t like but was a forgivable offense was how they abbreviated the origin. For example, Taiwan was abbreviated as “TWN,” and China was abbreviated as “CHN.” I noticed an immediate and subtle psychological effect from them doing this rather than listing the country outright. It was like it wasn’t as bad as if they had outright listed it as China or Taiwan. I would still, however, applaud them for actually listing it.
The other issue with abbreviation comes from it making no sense. For example, what did Snap-on mean when they abbreviated the country as “BLR” for one of their hole saws?
If we were to recommend caution on a category of tools, we would advise checking ahead of time with the power tools category. While we found that Snap-on did produce in the USA, many of its power tools originated in China and Taiwan. Safety gloves and air compressors give you another example of products made in China.
Overall, the brand continues to manufacture in the United States. Many of the product listings that we opened were made in the USA. We applaud them for the tools made here and won’t take that away from them.
If you’re interested, you can learn more about Snap-on tools and our other favorite American-made tool brands here.
Snap-on: Made in Milwaukee
Let’s dive a little deeper into Snap-on’s manufacturing processes to better understand where they make their products and take a look at their operations. Their facility in Milwaukee has served as a hand tool manufacturing facility since 1980.
As recently as 2013, Snap-on expanded its facility in Milwaukee for $2.6 million and added 25,000 square feet to its 125,000 square foot facility. The investment was made to further meet the needs of the company. They also expanded the parking lot and a holding pond. While we wouldn’t call this a monumental-sized investment, we respect that the brand continues to invest in its American manufacturing.
They have an estimated 350 people who work at the plant in Milwaukee. They use about eight million pounds of steel to produce their hand tools. In case you’d like to learn more about the operations here and how they treat their workers, check out the video here:
As they highlight in the video, they give their workers plenty of opportunities to move up in the company and prosper. This is the heart of what American manufacturing is about and why we love it so much. It provides people in our country with great opportunities rather than giving workers from other countries the same opportunities.
Snap-on Factory in North Carolina
IndustryWeek, an American monthly trade publication that has existed since 1882, named Snap-on’s factory in Murphy, North Carolina, as among the top 10 plants in North America in 2011. Snap-on constructed the plant in 2003, and they would go on to produce the pneumatic and cordless tools at this facility.
The 168,000-square-foot facility has 223 employees, and the goal has always been to keep the plant in operation. The town of 1,600 people has suffered from the loss of many jobs over the years, and the employment rate wouldn’t always be seen as picture-perfect.
The Levi Strauss factory shut down in the 1990s, leaving many jobless, but Snap-on soon moved into the plant to start operations.
Todd Rowe, the RCI manager for the facility, says that they want to do things extraordinarily well that Asia doesn’t do. A large part of the plant’s success comes down to the RCI team or rapid continuous improvement team. They walk the floors of the facility and search for new ways to improve plant operations. You can see the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen shining its best as a real-world example at this plant, and we don’t wonder why the plant has done so well.
The facility has, in fact, done so well that in 2009 when they shuttered a 68,000 square foot facility in Natick, Massachusetts, they migrated the five assembly lines down to Murphy—this added an extra 38 tools to its manufacturing load.
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The Wrench-Forging Plant in East Tennessee
Located in Elizabethton, Tennessee, the plant operates as a second-hand tool facility in the United States. In fact, many of Snap-on’s tools are hand tools. Opened in 1974, Snap-on cushioned and propped up the people of Elizabethton, especially as the local and national textile industry was in a mass exodus.
The facility is 170,000 square feet, and they produce 9,000 wrenches and 6,000 ratchets every day. They consume around 6,000 tons of steel each year.
We would think of this facility as the main hand tool supplier for the brand, even above its operations in Milwaukee. In 2007, Snap-on shut down its plant in Johnson City, Tennessee, losing 150 jobs, but the plant in Elizabethton continues going strong. They have over 400 employees working at the facility.
Many at the plant work here for decades since it provides them with the opportunities and lifestyles that they want.
Made in Arkansas
Produced in Conway, Arkansas, the factory here makes tire changers, alignment equipment, collision equipment, and wheel balancers. They perform service repairs as well. The space covers 220,000 square feet, and they produce up to 120 models.
This facility shows you one of the smaller Snap-on plants with around 100 employees. You can tell that Snap-on treats its employees well since the average employee works here for 18 years.
Snap-on acquired the building in Conway in 1996, but it originally operated as a John Bean plant where they made automotive wheel service equipment. Snap-on acquired John Bean in 1996, which was when they also received the factory. The strong tradition of technological development was rife at Snap-on when they first bought the facility, and they brought the same to this newly acquired company.
Elkmont Factory: What Snap-on Makes There
The facility in Elkmont, Alabama, contributes hand tools, specialty sockets, ratchet screwdrivers, and hammers. We would consider this a facility where they make a large variety of tools. What we find in common with at least two of the factories is the Japanese kaizen philosophy, or the philosophy of continuous improvement.
We don’t know if every factory for Snap-on practices it, but we find it admirable that they keep trying to up the quality of their work. Snap-on keeps around 80 employees at this location.
Is Snap-on Made in China?
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room, Snap-on’s manufacturing in China. We have seen that they do produce in the United States, but they also make some of their products in China. Some of the products made in China include welding helmets, cordless screwdriver kits, cordless power drill kits, polishers, air compressors, and safety gloves.
The big issue with Snap-on comes from how they make their products in China and charge the same price as American-made products. We will leave it up to you to decide if that’s a fair business practice. While Snap-on does produce in the USA, they have more factories outside of the US than inside. They have a factory in Kunshan County in Shanghai and a factory in Xiaoshan District.
People have rightfully expressed a growing concern that Snap-on will outsource more and more of the work to China. We see this as a fair concern, especially since they often charge the same price for their Chinese-made products. That, however, will only happen if people continue to support Chinese-made products. While we don’t like that they outsource to China, Snap-on still has a reputation to uphold. They must maintain the quality even if they outsource it to another country.
We have seen Snap-on shift its production overseas for several years and can only hope that it won’t impact the quality.
Is Snap-on Made in Taiwan?
Snap-on has a production facility in Wu-Ku Industry Park, Taipei, Taiwan. While the products from Taiwan show signs of better quality control than China, people still prefer American-made products first. We can also tell that Snap-on makes its products in Taiwan because we have seen several products on their page that they made in Taiwan.
Some of the Snap-on products made in Taiwan include:
- Automatic wire stripper
- Two Pin Brake Piston Tool
- Micro Air Saw
- Blade Changing Wrench
- Angle Grinder
We would say Taiwan has specific categories that you find them in, and China has specific categories that you find their products in. Exercise caution, especially with their power tools, since this appears to be a category that foreign manufacturing favors the most.
Should You Pay More for Snap-on’s Foreign Made Products?
We would say absolutely not! It kills American manufacturing without any of the benefits, such as a lower price. To support products that do this would be a hard slap to the face of American manufacturing. Anyone who loves their country would support the American-made product first.
They charge more for American-made products because they cost more to produce, and if you incentivize companies to make as much off Chinese-made products as they can from American-made, we will see no difference in the prices. All the advantages of foreign-made products will go away.
To put this into perspective, the Snap-on 2” Angle Grinder costs an estimated $273 and was made in Taiwan. Looking at another product made in Taiwan, such as the Chicago Pneumatic, CP7500D 2-inch angle grinder, a similar product, will cost an estimated $170. What’s wrong with that picture?
One might argue, “What if the products have the same quality?” We could even say that those products have the same quality from both American and Chinese origins, but there’s still one huge problem—it costs less to produce them in China, which means that they make more profit from doing this, incentivizing foreign-made manufacturing. The higher price tag is unfair, especially when their overhead is much lower.
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We hope we thoroughly answered the question – Where are Snap-on tools made? If you have any further questions or comments, don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments section below.
Despite Snap-on having a few quirks, we would still say that their overall manufacturing remains American-made. They do have room for improvement, but we like the company overall. We would say to support the products of American origin and think carefully about the foreign-made products since it provides little advantage to the American consumer. The one issue that some customers have about Snap-on comes from the fact that you often pay more for the stellar brand label than the product itself.
Hi, my name is Kevin and I’m from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Choosing products made in America is important to me because it supports local economies, creates jobs, helps the environment, and ensures ethical labor practices. I also find that American made products are usually of higher quality so although they’re a little more expensive, you save money in the long run. Before starting this website I was in the USMC infantry and nowadays I work on this website as a hobby.