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Published on Sat, Apr 27, 2019

By: Doug Stokes

Harbor Freight Tools
Harbor Freight Tools

Harbor Freight at one time was sort of an insider’s joke that (even without saying it aloud) that riffed on the cheap quality of Harbor Freight tools and accessories.  Right, they weren’t (still aren’t) quite “Snap-on” quality… and, if you’re a full-time pro mechanic buying that brand actually makes a lot of sense over time.

On the other hand, the quality and value-for-price of Harbor Freight tools has changed and improved with regularity over the years and most home/backyard mechanics can (and do) put them to work with a very good level of confidence.

We used to make jokes about not worrying about leaving a tool or two at the track if it was from Harbor Freight.  They were cheap tools, junk … and then we started using them.

The price was (very) right and the darn things did their job without complaints or breakage.  And, when they did break, as all tools can (and eventually will with hard use), the peeps at HF, just said:  “OK, go get a new one right over there about half way down aisle 4 and we’ll trade you for this one, straight across.”

The take home here is that Harbor Freight has good, usable tools and lots of other handy stuff (right … they’re manufactured off-shore, but what isn’t these days?) for sale, sells a lot of them, and gives back to the community by getting young people involved in the mechanical repair business (which the country really needs …).

The company founder and president is pretty darn proud of his company’s Tools For Schools investment in our youth, and I think that it’s cool … Here’s the deal direct from the guy who owns the place:

I have a special place in my heart for skilled trades teachers, especially those who teach in high school.We depend on skilled trades workers. They fix the cars we drive, they build and repair the homes we live in and they do so much more. Yet more than 1.5 million skilled trades workers will retire by 2024, and there are not nearly enough students entering the trades to fill those jobs. Even at Harbor Freight Tools, as we’re building and opening two new stores every week, we struggle to find enough skilled electricians, carpenters, plumbers and HVAC technicians.Our desire to support skilled trades education in American public high schools led to the creation in 2017 of the annual Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. I’m writing for two reasons: 1) to share the news that we recently awarded more than $1 million in prizes to high school skilled trades teachers and their high schools across the country, and 2) to ask you to help us identify more teachers we can reward this year with another $1 million in prizes.The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools team, with the help of regional managers from our stores, visited the schools and surprised these extraordinary teachers with the news that they and their schools had won cash prizes. Three first-place winners received $100,000, and 15 second-place winners received $50,000, with the awards divided between the teacher and the school’s skilled trades program.The first-place winners were:• Charles Kachmar, who teaches metals and welding at Maxwell High School of Technology in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and whose students give back to the community by building beds for local homeless women and children in need of emergency shelter.• Gary Bronson, an industrial diesel mechanics teacher at Laurel Oaks Career Campus in Wilmington, Ohio, whose students work on an International ProStar truck, replacing the brakes, wiring the lighting and completing its annual inspection.• Andrew J. Neumann, a building trades teacher at Bay Arenac Intermediate School District Career Center in Bay City, Michigan, whose students design, build and market a new house from the ground up.In the coming months, we’ll feature some of the winners in our coupon book that we mail to over 10 million customers each month.  Harbor Freight Tools also provided a $1,000 gift card to the 34 semi-finalists to support their high school’s skilled trades programs.We’re going to award $1 million in prizes again this year. Applications are now open for the 2019 prize, and we need your help spreading the word. If you know a great high school skilled trades teacher, please encourage them to apply through June 17 at join me in congratulating these amazing educators and in supporting skilled trades teachers and their students.Sincerely,

Eric Smidt

Have you got a good candidate for this program?  Get with Mister Smidt and tell him all about it…

I use Harbor Freight tools and I see them all the time in some pretty darn high-zoot pit areas at the race track and at many top race shops as well.

Like to see something in 21mm combo wrench my friend? … Right over there just past the cool color-coded socket sets and the TiG welders.  (… and don’t forget the coupon for the FREE pack of of AA batteries while you’re here.)  -DS

At one time LACar editor-at-large Stokes worked (well … they let him clean stuff and go on lunch and parts runs in this team shirt) on Indy Cars as a mechanic.  He’s also owned, rebuilt, worked-on, and raced a succession of small-bore competition cars.    His decades-old tool box has a broad selection of top brand of hand tools with  a good number of Harbor Freight tools taking their place right alongside them.

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