Harbor Freight Tools
2.7 of 5 282 reviews
www.harborfreight.com Calabasas, CA 5000+ Employees

Harbor Freight Tools Reviews

Updated Jul 7, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

2.7 282 reviews

                             

36% Approve of the CEO

Harbor Freight Tools CEO Eric Smidt

Eric Smidt

(187 ratings)

38% of employees recommend this company to a friend
282 Employee Reviews
Relevance Date Rating
in

Review Highlights

Pros:
  • "Paid time off and sick time, health insurance for full timers"
    in 16 reviews
  • "pto/sick time for part time employees"
    in 10 reviews
Cons:
  • "Plenty of turnover in upper management/executive level at the corporate office"
    in 20 reviews
  • "Expected you to sell a high percentage of extended warranties and inside track club memberships which people didn't want"
    in 8 reviews
  • Show more review highlights

Reviews

    • Culture & Values
           
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    • Disapproves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Never ending battle

    Head Cashier (Current Employee)

    ProsBe cautious of reviews from "Calabasas, CA" that is corporate headquarters and senior executives are trying to make a good impression upon the company. This company does not hire smart and educated people, contrary to a previous reviewer's comment.

    Pros;
    1. Easy to get into the company, even felons are hired
    2. Benefits for full time employees are good

    Cons1. Pay - other retailers will pay you more, even Menards compensates for weekend shifts. Harbor Freight rationalizes this by pushing replacement guarantees and memberships. If you do not meet your numbers, you will be fired.

    2. Scheduling - scheduling is chaotic at best. Forget about having a set schedule.

    3. Work load - frequent call offs, labor shortages, and reduction of hours puts a strain on regular, working employees. Prepare to work your butt off for 7.95 an hour, before taxes. You are also expected to sell Inside Track Memberships. They are extremely hard to sell; you get berated when you don't sell them; even customers know they are a rip off. You will frequently have angry customers do to coupon exclusions. Return policy is antiquated and draconian. Customers will be angry; you, regardless if you are an associate or stores manager, will vent this at you while senior management will kiss the customer and give them 100 bucks for their 10 mile trip.

    4. Unclean/unsafe environment - these are Chinese tools, manufactured with unmentionable chemicals; you will smell this in the store immediately. Since payroll is stringently controlled, you will be loading 500 lb items yourself with maybe one other associate to help, no motorized equipment to aid.

    5. Micromanaging - retail failures liquidated by REAL retailers circa 2008 have made it into the company since the recession - HFT has soaked up talent (warm bodies) from failing companies. These people like to ice pointless tasks. The other day, the district manager wanted us to report to him, for the whole store, each reason for each discounted item for the entire weekend. Wow.

    Advice to Senior ManagementRealize that you are micromanaging and let people work. Give stores more hours, you have a 50% profit margin every year, Eric Schmidt can afford it.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Harbor Freight Tools HR Liason responded to this review Jul 9, 2014 EditDelete
    Thank you for your input. We know that, even though Harbor Freight is growing exponentially with great success, we're always striving to improve, for our customers and for our team. And while we ... More
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    3 people found this helpful  

    They Talk a Good Game

    Sales Associate/Customer Service (Former Employee)
    Palm Harbor, FL

    ProsIf you have a good store manager it can be a good place to work. Most of the people I worked with were dedicated people and I never had a cross word with anyone, and I was fortunate to have a great store manager. The customers were friendly and I enjoyed helping them. It's a decent part time job for a single person with few outside obligations.

    ConsShort sighted corporate has oversaturated this area with new stores so everyone's sales have dropped off. Because of that, new stores have not met sales forecasts resulting in everyone's hours being cut. The store managers are pressured to sell the Extended Service Plans and Inside Track Club memberships and they have no choice but to pass down that pressure to the employees. Hours are not consistent so you may get 18 hours one week, and 12 hours the next week, and the starting and ending times might vary which makes it very difficult to plan your life. Many employees are married and have children and it is impossible to make sure family obligations are met when you never know from one week to the next what time you will be starting and ending work, or what days you will be scheduled.

    Advice to Senior ManagementYou talk a good game and maybe you were able to keep your promises a few years ago but you have dropped the ball. You might as well be honest and change the name to "Harbor Freight Tools and Extended Service Plans" because you have made that a priority instead of customer satisfaction and employee well being. You've oversaturated this area with new stores and old stores that were once thriving are now starving along with the new guys who can't possibly meet sales expectations. Because of that, everyone's hours have been severely cut over what was promised and a person can't pay their bills on 5 to 15 hours a week. The days scheduled for work and the starting and ending times can vary from week to week which makes it is impossible to run a family. For example, I might work 6:00 am to 12 noon on one day and then 2:00 to 8:00 pm the next day, but that's only for this week. Who knows when I'll be working next week? But as long as we sell the ESP plan and the Inside Track Clubs the district manager smiles and gets off our backs for a while. Upper management needs to learn that the tools are the inanimate objects of the shelves, not the human beings who work in the store. You expect loyalty from employees but loyalty is a two way street. Some of you upper management guys should try running a store for six months. I think there would be some major changes if you had to eat your own cooking.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    Amazing retail experience. Great Culture, Intelligent top leadership in a fast growing company!

    District Manager (Current Employee)
    Saint Augustine, FL

    ProsCompany vision is fantastic with long term growth.
    Growth opportunity for serious players.
    Great Retail benefits.
    Product line is top in class.
    Top Talent is a must.
    performance based company.

    ConsAssociates not willing to change to the new direction.
    Fast growth sometimes prevents desired training.
    Distribution could be better.
    Overall the company is not perfect. It is a fast growing company with issues.
    The impressive thing is they know what they need to do and have the issues being fixed in priority while being financially reasonable.

    Advice to Senior ManagementKeep the humbleness its working!!

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • Culture & Values
           
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    Growing company, plenty of opportunity, meritocratic and collaborative culture

    Director (Current Employee)
    Calabasas, CA

    ProsLeadership is fair and transparent.
    Opportunities abound throughout the company (internal promotions and transfers occur often)
    Highly collaborative and collegial environment
    Great people across all company verticals: professional, dedicated and humble
    Company is successful and growing

    ConsCollaboration can lead to taking longer for things to get done

    Advice to Senior ManagementI really can't complain about Harbor Freight. I started over 3 years ago and have seen my department change drastically--in strategic direction and leadership. Many companies would have chosen to let me and my co-workers go given all the uncertainty. However, Harbor Freight stood by me and, through it all, I was given the opportunity not just to survive but thrive. I was able to grow into a manager position and was promoted to director last year.

    My department is in great shape, has a great leader and is well-aligned with the overall business. Of course, some days are better than others, and every job has its frustrations, but I've always felt that I can trust senior managers and execs here to do what they say they will do and not BS around. Leaders here are scary smart and know this business like nobody else so you will learn A LOT from very experienced business people!

    Another cool thing (to me at least) is that, if you like tools and tinkering with stuff, this place is heaven! You get a great employee discount on tons of cool stuff, and I'm in an HFT store every other week. My wife calls my garage "Harbor Freight East". It's nice to sell real things to people that help them get jobs done. I used to work in Financial Services, so it's nice to do business in tangible goods that actually help people. And for the record, nobody put me up to writing this. People should know that this is a growing company with great people that I'm happy to work with every day.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    As a rapidly expanding company, Harbor Freight Tools offers great career opportunities in a performance based enviroment

    District Manager (Current Employee)
    Philadelphia, PA

    ProsIn the three plus years that I have been a District Manager with Harbor Freight Tools, I have been fortunate to be surrounded by a dynamite executive team and a great peer network enabling me to build a high performing district team.

    ConsNo cons at present time

    Advice to Senior ManagementHarbor Freight Tools offers a very unique and easy footprint to follow for success.This has allowed me to attract and retain talent from big box retailers at the same time building a foundation for success in the tri state area.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Challanging and rewarding, fast paced!

    District Manager (Current Employee)
    Phoenix, AZ

    ProsGreat growth, not slowing down. Opportunity for growth is incredible. Challanging to keep up with the pace that we are changing our operating systems for the better - this is change for the good!

    ConsAny of our cons are being addressed by our company that is the coolest part. DC issues being addressed with building new DC's and expanding. Register issues addressed with new systems in every store etc. We are addressing with and dealing with "growing pains" these are the best sort of "cons" to have!

    Advice to Senior ManagementContinue to address people development like we are that is the key to our future growth and internal promotions. We are doing the right things!

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Harbor Freight Tools HR Liason responded to this review Jun 18, 2014 EditDelete
    Thank you for the feedback. We’re excited about the growth and energy at Harbor Freight Tools, too. We've got a great team and will continue to offer growth opportunities from within. At the same ... More
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    • Approves of CEO

     

    Fast paced, high growth company with numerous opportnities. Exciting time to be at Harbor Freight Tools!

    District Manager (Current Employee)
    San Bernardino, CA

    ProsWith the rapid growth of the company there is great opportunity for advancement with excellent pay for performance! Challenging yet rewardiing! Great bonus program with strong total compensation package including benefit options.

    ConsGrowing pains with rapid growth and expansion but executive team has vision and purpose with strong stategic planning and priority setting.

    Advice to Senior ManagementContinue identifying and developing internal talent to sustain company growth through balance of internal and external talent.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    5 people found this helpful  

    Forced Reviews

    Store Manager (Current Employee)

    ProsPotential of the organization, but being squandered by sycophants and outsiders lacking understanding of the culture and how to affect positive cultural change.

    ConsThe stores are paying for padding the bottom-line with payroll budgets that drive good employees to other companies and the DMs, RMs, HR, and corporate entity frankly don't care. All levels of employees DM level and above are cost centers that yield little impact on revenues, yet the stores and store employees are being cut to the quick.

    Too many programs and conflicting direction in terms of what is important. One week, MMSOP, another ITC, currently phone numbers and mail cards. Focus on the business as a whole without gutting the stores in terms of staffing and the rest of the programs will follow. What is occurring now is evidence of how metrics can result in mismanagement of a company.

    Lack of any real vision on the part of the DMs, RMs, HR, corporate executives and even greater lacking in understanding what the reality is in the stores. Most sit behind a desk, staring at a computer screen, or lovingly caressing their Blackberries rather than actually getting to know what is the situation at the store levels.

    A commitment to training is farcical at best...couldn't do it anyway since there are too few employees to train, too few hours to train, too many tasks to do, and an HR department that views CBT (what's the fascination with a British accent by the way?) as the only way to train (not enough time unless you do it at home). This ties into the IDP (individual development program) that is not supported by the DMs and RMs, but is being used as a means to prevent the promotion of competent and qualified AMs. Extremely subjective as is the Evaluation process where DMs that have little to no contact with AMs rate said AMs as barely meeting requirements.

    I can only imagine that turnover is likely higher than average at the SM level primarily because the outsiders brought in don't understand the culture and think that the store can be managed from the office (reflecting how the DMs and other executives manage). In most organizations with a truly strategic focus, HR is a partner in the planning process and takes an active role in developing talent. In HFT's case, HR practices a laissez-faire approach to the HR process and uses "if we ignore the issues, hopefully they will go away" philosophy to their role. There is no career planning, there is no succession planning, there is no training, and evident by the "canned" responses from the HFT representative on these pages, there is no seriousness in terms of focus in making HFT a preferred employee rather than simply being a temporary position until something better comes along.

    Hmmm......I wonder how many DMs, RMs, Directors, and others will be commanded to post something positive after this posts?

    Advice to Senior ManagementObviously, for every factual based negative or neutral commentary, phone calls and emails are being made and sent to DMs, RMs, and corporate execs to publish a glowing review of the company. While you may be skewing the overall rating of the organization on Glassdoor, the lack of a third party engagement survey (should not be conducted at stores) for the past couple of years strengthens the position that those calling the shots fear what the masses may have to say.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    Harbor Freight Tools HR Liaison responded to this review Jun 27, 2014 EditDelete
    Wow, you've said a lot here. While we'd love to discuss each point with you, this is obviously not the right forum for that discussion. The one thing that we can say here is that while we disagree ... More
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    1 person found this helpful  

    Retail sales

    Assistant Store Manager (Current Employee)
    Kansas City, MO

    ProsGenerous vacation and sick time accrual. Many stores opening across which should translate into opportunities.

    ConsExtremely poor communication at store level. Totally lacking true accountability. Company needs to have a feedback system that protected against retribution.

    Advice to Senior ManagementDistrict managers should talk to the team when in the stores and not ignore issues.

    – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Rudderless Ship in a niche market

    Manager (Current Employee)
    Santa Maria, CA

    ProsPaid Time Off accrual, relatively decent work-life balance for retail management, potential of company (though being squandered at this time).

    ConsUnfortunately, there are many and much of this is the result of an absentee owner with only a passing interest in the business other than to leverage the value of the company to pay himself excessive dividends rather than investing the earnings back into the business and the people in the stores.

    For the past three to four years, there has been a litany of programs from individuals at corporate that frankly don't understand what HFT is in terms of culture and history. Yes, change does need to happen to keep companies relevant (just look at Sears, K-mart, and others), but a constant stream of programs that are marginal in effectiveness only creates confusion and frustration at the store level don't yield productive efforts. There are far too many DMs, RMs, and others that expect blind obedience, but they themselves couldn't implement the programs effectively given the lack of staffing required to fulfill the expectations of said programs. "Change is coming" is what the stores are hearing, but if the changes already put in place can't be implemented effectively, perhaps a return to fundamentals would be advised. MMSOP, Epicor, Chameleon, and IDP are the most recent efforts that frankly create more work than efficiency.

    There is no commitment to development from within despite what HR may say on the posters at the front doors. The IDP is a farce when there is no commitment on the part of the DMs and outside hire SMs to implement, support, and execute the intended purpose of the program. This reflects a lack of commitment and involvement by the HR department to create a long-term strategy to support the growth of the company and develop the talent (it does exist HR) within the organization. Rather what is experienced at the stores by the employees and junior management is an organizational indifference by the HR department. Bring up a complaint and they will do their utmost to squash it or ignore it in hopes that it will go away. All one has to do is examine the turnover at the stores (all levels in the store) to see that HFT is positioning itself for mediocrity. There are some good people in HR, but most certainly not at the top tiers of the organization. Laissez Faire management is perhaps the best description of the managerial focus for this critically important department.

    The lack of communication (positive that is) and clear vision from the executive level also creates confusion and a lack of clarity of purpose at the stores. Many of these individuals have been brought in supposedly to take the company to a new level and direction, but unfortunately since they don't and won't listen to the stores and use fear, intimidation, and threats to enforce poorly designed programs and policies, mediocrity is the norm rather than the exception, which is a shame since there are many in the stores that have good ideas and a commitment to excellence, but are ignored or blacklisted because they have solutions to problems facing the company. This is reflected in the elimination of Engagement Surveys to assess how employees feel about their role and the company. There hasn't been an Engagement Survey in two years and the last one's results were not shared with the employees (must not have been very good).

    Given the gross margin this organization achieves on its merchandise, the staffing levels that are skeletal at best reflect more of a commitment to padding profits than achieving real growth (simply opening more stores isn't an effective long-term strategy) and threatening cashiers and store employees with discipline and termination to force customers to sign up for mailing lists and a member's program with questionable benefits along with giving away millions of dollars of products to inflate "customer" counts reflects a marked lack of understanding of how to grow a business. Staffing and payroll budgets could be increased to ensure that the most important element of growing the business is addressed and that being staffing to provide customer service while the store is open rather than allocating 1/3 to 1/2 of the payroll budget to "dark hours" programs (MMSOP, POGs, ad sets, and price changes). More names on the customer rolls doesn't mean customer service exists.

    Unfortunately for the customer that shops HFT, the management team (DM, RM, corporate) isn't committed to providing a positive shopping experience, but is very quick to create a hostile working environment for the internal customer (store employees) that correspondingly creates a less than welcoming environment for the external customer shopping the stores.

    Advice to Senior ManagementStopping believing in your own grandeur (you aren't that great), listen to the grass roots employees (it worked for Sam Walton who honestly earned his billions), stop rolling out ill-designed programs and changes if you can't get the current ones working as intended, promote from within (start by creating opportunities by removing DMs, RMs, and corporate executives that don't and won't listen to those doing the work), and increase the staffing at store level to mitigate turnover.

    This company has potential in its niche, but unfortunately its being squandered by those that are unwilling to accept that its current focus is encouraging mediocrity rather than excellence. Managing and leading an organization requires more than platitudinous mutterings.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    Harbor Freight Tools HR Liason responded to this review Jun 20, 2014 EditDelete
    We agree, this company has tremendous potential, and we look forward to its continued growth. We also greatly appreciate your feedback about areas where we can improve. If you'd like to share ... More
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Harbor Freight Tools – Why Work for Us?

In 1977, Harbor Freight Tools had a mission to make it easier for working people to get the best value possible on top-quality tools they could trust. Now, more than 35 years later, that mission has made Harbor Freight… Full Overview

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Glassdoor is your free inside look at Harbor Freight Tools reviews and ratings — including employee satisfaction and approval rating for Harbor Freight Tools CEO Eric Smidt . All 282 reviews posted anonymously by Harbor Freight Tools employees.