Milwaukee Tool: What Branding Means to a Company That’s Doubled in Size Over 5 Years

Milwaukee Tool. A market leader in their category of power tools, accessories, and hand tools. A company that’s doubled in size in the past five years. A company that takes branding seriously and made the bold move to work with a print shop less than a year old on orders as large as 10,000 bandanas and 6,000 hats.

“Branding is a huge part of the Milwaukee name. It’s got an exceptional reputation. The brand is so strong and so good locally,” said Milwaukee National Account Manager Sandy Johns. “That’s what made me want to work for them.”

What makes Milwaukee so different from their competition? For one thing, an aggressive approach to the market.

“For example, we don’t invest in advertisements in national-level sports,” explained Sandy. “We invest in trade associations. We invest in the next generation of plumbers, electricians, maintenance people, and product users. We invest in our partners.”

Their dedication to these investments have given them an impressive reputation — one Sandy commonly runs into at the airport.

“The brand is so known for excellence and being the fastest-growing in the market that there’s actually a passion around the brand,” said Sandy. “If I’m wearing anything with the Milwaukee logo at an airport, people will stop me to tell me they love the new light or the new chainsaw. They tell me they can’t believe how much they love their tool, how much they love the brand. It’s fun to see the passion from total strangers on a regular basis.”

And that’s where merch comes into play. Milwaukee Tool is so widely admired and loved that to settle for second-rate promotional products isn’t an option. So their decision to work with Dallas Print Factory, a very young print shop, might seem surprising to some.

It all started about a year ago with a conversation Sandy had with CEO Thomas McShane.

“About a year ago, Thomas talked to me about branding with DPF. Swag is a huge deal for Milwaukee Tool, and we make a lot of it internally, so I said a challenge with going external would be the logistics, the invoicing,” said Sandy. “But Thomas said they’d figure it out and make it easy, and I have to say, it’s been phenomenal working with them. They’ve done a great job on the last two large-scale projects, and I’ve been thrilled with the quality of products.”

What made those branding successes even sweeter? They came from Thomas’ own recommendations.

“Thomas recommended the last two big orders we’ve done — hats and bandanas — and we’ve had a really good response to them. He’s really two for two on what he’s recommended,” said Sandy. “People in the field are really excited about the hats from DPF. Reps have talked about how they’ve gotten orders specifically because of the hat promotion. Not to say that we wouldn’t have been successful without them, but they’ve really accelerated our success.”

To put it another way, Milwaukee’s branding hasn’t been successful just because of merch but because of how well the merch has been able to represent and build off of the already successful name.

And there’s another name that’s been key to the entire process, and that’s DPF’s very own Promotions Director and Account Manager Jennifer Lopez.

“Jennifer is the only person I have to talk to. She answers all of my questions quickly, and she sends me lists, confirmation numbers, everything,” said Sandy. “I’ll go to her and say, ‘Oh, no, can you order this overnight?’ and she can do it. The ability to be flexible coupled with DPF’s ability to hold inventory and Thomas’ great recommendations? I couldn’t be happier.”

DPF is proud to have Milwaukee as a client. As the last two big orders have proven, you can do a lot when you match a quality brand with the right quality products.

If you’re interested in what DPF can do for your brand, reach out to us today at