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Thread: Admiration for Robust Tools

  1. #1

    Admiration for Robust Tools

    I am an admirer of Robust Tools despite not having one of their lathes. If I didn't already have a Oneway a Robust American Beauty would be in my shop or perhaps a Vicmarc. The Robust admiration stems from the choice made by the company to have their products made in the USA. They could have just as easily and perhaps at a greater profit had their machines made in the same factories as Powermatic, Jet, etc. That thought had me wondering today what could have been if SawStop took the same direction as Robust. It seems that some of the pressure from overseas competition would have been eased by their patented technology. How much more would a SawStop cost if manufactured in the US?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Lummi Island, WA
    Posts
    547
    I’m an admirer of Robust as well - and a customer. They’re well designed, beautiful machines that are basically hand crafted. They are perfectly fit to function and a joy to use. All their equipment falls well into the same category.
    The problem, as I see it is that the two markets are very different. The size and scope of the saw market dwarfs that of Robust, and that means additional competition - mostly on price. Manufacturers that want to compete can do so on quality, feature sets or price, but within the market they must compromise on at least one to remain their market base.

    Robust lathes are basically weldments (at least the beds and legs). While the headstock, tail stock and a few other pieces like the swing away are cast. The weldment requires more labor, and higher skilled labor to produce than casting once the tooling for both are accounted for. This level of precision is difficult to source and maintain from a distance. The difference in cost would probably be negligible after factoring freight.

    There is a distinct difference between a lamborgini and a yugo...

    Sawstop elected to disperse its novel safety enhancing technology through the full range of possible applications - cabinet saws, contractor saws and bench models to get the benefits of a unique technology to the most people (biggest market). To play in a bigger arena you need to compete in at least one of the categories while not being so out of step with the needs of the market in the other two that you limit your customer base.

    Sawstop makes a great product that has probably resulted in reducing the amount of precious fluid loss in many shops. You need to spend a little more for it, but its well worth it depending on your priorities.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Atlanta
    Posts
    507
    Sawstop didn't really have a choice to manufacture domestically.

    The few domestic manf. left at the time wanted nothing to do with SS for obvious reasons. SS didn't even want to make a saw in the begining either. It was only when they faced the fact that they were going to have to create the market themselves did they look for a maker. By then Powermatic, Delta and General were dying and the writing was on the wall. Emerson didn't really have the capability for that level of saw.

    That at left the Asians. And let's face it , Robust doesn't have the ability to turn out the volume of units that SS is/was looking at. So starting a ground up manuf. line for a complex new, unproven product made no business sense.

  4. #4
    I wonder how empty our house would be if we removed everything that wasn't made in America? It's a global economy if we like it or not.

  5. #5
    One of the reasons that I bought my AB was because it was made in the USA. Not sure, but think the Vega lathes are as well. The problem with manufacturing some thing in the USA is that our high cost of living has kind of driven us out of the world market on mass produced things. That, and the 'buy a cheap one, use it for a bit, throw it away and then buy another one' type of marketing. I buy local whenever I can. Another thing that convinced me to buy my Robust was the quality of manufacturing. My family has owned a manufacturing business in the midwest which started in 1952 and they are still going strong (Gray Mfg.) They manufacture for the heavy trucking industry. They mostly used to manufacture for automobiles, but the cheap products coming in from over seas cut into their market. By moving to heavy trucking, which is more custom work, they have survived. That and making a product that doesn't seem to break down like the competition. That is how to survive...

    robo hippy

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