Festool Connect 2017
FHB tool editor Patrick McCombe goes to Indiana to check out Festool's facilities.
For the last several years German power tool maker Festool has been hosting a customer appreciation and media event called Festool Connect. Over the weekend I attended this year’s event in Lebanon, Indiana, outside of Indianapolis. In addition to good free beer and food, attendees checked out new and familiar products and watched demonstrations. Media types like myself were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour where we saw the company’s immense warehouse and its first U.S. production line. The company is now producing its aluminum guide rail in the United States with aluminum extrusions provided by a Chicago-area company.
With hundreds of people in attendance, Festool took the opportunity to sell their reconditioned tools. These are products that were returned for whatever reason and then refurbished to company specs. I saw many happy hobbyists and contractors loading their vehicles with miter saws, vacs, and sanders. They had 16 models for sale with prices 25% off normal retail.
We also saw the full lineup of SawStop table saws. TTS, Festool’s parent company, recently acquired the U.S. saw maker. Most interesting to me in the SawStop display was a new router lift and fence system that integrates with Festool cabinet and contractor saws. The router lift includes a small cabinet for the router that should improve dust collection. The setup is scheduled for release early next year.
In addition to tool demos and the sale, the company also took the opportunity to discuss their plans for further U.S. expansion. The current facility is surrounded by cornfields that the company now owns. It plans to break ground on additional manufacturing facilities next year.
I came to the event with measured expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised with the fun, carnival atmosphere. It was also interesting to get a behind-the-scenes look at the company. If you happen to be in the area for next year’s event, I’d suggest checking it out. Attending doesn’t cost anything and the ability to buy like-new tools for a discount should be reason enough for any Festool fan to attend.