Raymond DeWalt was a tradesman in Pennsylvania in the early 1920s, initially learning his skillset at his dad’s wagon shop, DeWalt Wagon Works. However, little did DeWalt Jr know that he would soon become a successful power-tool pioneer on his own accord, developing a way to streamline and expedite wood-cutting operations — without sacrificing quality or safety.
Nor did he imagine founding a company that would be, today, celebrating a century of global innovations for the trades.
DeWalt’s initial journey led to the invention of the “Wonder-Worker,” an adjustable electric radial-arm saw that allowed users to execute multiple operations efficiently with one affordable piece of equipment. Soon after, he decided to create a business, forming DEWALT Products Co. in 1924 — a company that continues to design and optimize professional tools, accessories, and services today.
In fact, the spring of this year will mark 100 years of success, an anniversary the company intends to celebrate by ringing the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange on May 14th, 2024.
Within three years of founding DEWALT, the Wonder-Worker was an industry must-have and credited with helping manufacture “50 ready-cut houses each day.” This was according to Sears, Roebuck, an American department store that became one of many distributors of DEWALT’s tools and equipment. Before long, the company sold products nationally and internationally, including to household names like Steinway & Sons and Westinghouse Electric Co.
Just as quickly as DEWALT’s innovative tools gained notoriety among hobbyists and tradespeople, the company earned respect for its extensive knowledge in manufacturing and construction.
In the ’30s, it collaborated with the U.S. government and industry organizations to define and improve safety regulations in the construction industry before the establishment of what’s currently known as OSHA or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
In the decade that followed, DEWALT rapidly expanded its manufacturing capabilities to meet the demands of government orders in connection with national defense requirements.
Later in his life, Raymond DeWalt expanded his focus, wanting to make a difference in the lives of youths while closing the skilled trades gap. He served as a superintendent at the National Youth Administration’s trade shops in York, Pennsylvania, and later became one of the first vocational instructors at Mechanicsburg High School, educating the next generation of professional trades workers.
Sadly, DeWalt passed away in 1961, but his legacy lives on through the DEWALT brand. Just a year earlier, the company was acquired by tool and appliance developer Black & Decker (now known as Stanley Black & Decker) but continues to maintain the DEWALT name and all it represents. The innovations have yet to stop at DEWALT.
Over time, the company accomplished many “firsts,” including advancing electric power and cordless tools long before others followed suit. It also advanced battery technology, introducing the world’s first battery that automatically adjusts its voltage based on the tool.
“DEWALT has been committed to professional tradespeople for the past 100 years, and Raymond DeWalt’s founding principles of innovation, safety, and productivity remain the core ethos of our company today,” said Chris Nelson, COO, executive VP, and president – Tools & Outdoor at Stanley Black & Decker.
A few highlights include:
- In 1992, DEWALT introduced its ﬁrst line of portable electric power tools and accessories designed to meet the unique needs of professional users. Two years later, it launched what was a revolutionary system of more than 30 new cordless tools, including the most powerful cordless tools of the time. This was the 14.4-volt cordless drill/driver and the 5-3/8” cordless saw.
- In 2010, the company introduced a 12V MAX system of lithium-ion tools, which incorporated power and ergonomics for more comfortable handling.
- By 2011, DEWALT had more than 69 million 18V cordless system battery users. It also added more than 100 products, including drills, screwdrivers, sockets, saws, and more, ensuring the ideal tool for the job was available.
- In 2016, FLEXVOLT hit the market, the world’s ﬁrst battery that automatically changes voltage when the user changes tools.
- In 2021, DEWALT became the world’s first major power-tool brand to use pouch-cell “POWERSTACK” batteries, developed for the construction industry.
This year, the company continues to innovate, launching DEWALT POWERSHIFT, an advanced equipment system that optimizes the workflow of concrete job sites through electrification.
“When we put the DEWALT name on something, it’s a commitment that our tools will help get the job done right,” said Nelson. “This milestone anniversary is also a humbling reminder of both the responsibility and critical role DEWALT plays in supporting the trades with solutions, training, and resources needed to meet the demands of the future.”
In honor of Raymond DeWalt, the company also continues to hold its yearly trades scholarship program, which began in 2019 to support the next generation of skilled workers in aviation technology, construction, and welding.
“Entering DEWALT’s second century, we remain just as committed to driving relentless innovation and supporting the trades as Raymond DeWalt did in 1924,” he added. “From cutting-edge technology to skills development, DEWALT’s future remains strong, and we will lead the way in empowering tradespeople to succeed while defining the next era of industry innovation.”