James Loree’s face lights up when asked to talk about the new trend of American corporations searching for their “purpose.” It’s a favorite topic for the CEO of Stanley Black & Decker, the company famous for making tools and manufacturing equipment.
Speaking at Fortune’s CEO Initiative conference, Loree explains that as he prepared to take on the new job of CEO in 2016, he thought that the 175-year-old company was “missing something.” Even though Loree had been working at the New Britain, Conn. company for nearly 20 years, he reflected that “there’s a fabric that needs a context, needs to be richer.” He also observed that “the young people coming in, it was clear they were looking for something more as well.”
So Loree called on the company’s 45,000 employees to work with him to figure out “the societal need” the company filled. In short, was is the company’s purpose? It took a year of big town hall meetings, small working sessions, and internal conversations on Workplace by Facebook to find the answer.
They defined Stanley Black & Decker’s purpose as “for those who make the world.”
As Loree defines it, “We’re the largest tool company in the world. We impact people through our tools. And so ‘for those who make the world,’ it’s not about us. It’s for those makers and creators who really make the world.”
Loree says he has been surprised by the positive feedback the company’s been getting, not only from customers and shareholders, but also the companies it calls “acquisition targets.”
“We start talking about purpose and we become in some cases the company people want to be part of, even in an acquisition setting,” Loree explains. “Very, very high impact. Beyond anything I could have imagined.”