And so the age old debate over who in fact makes the best welding machines rages on in perpetuity. Miller vs. Lincoln.
“I love Lincoln, they make the best welding machines I ever used!”
“No way, Miller makes the best quality welders, with the best prices, I never use anything else.”
It’s like the Coke versus Pepsi or Miller (no relation) versus Budweiser of the welding equipment world. Just as with those “classic marketing battles,” everyone has an opinion on who’s the best, and why.
Read the forums to see what people are saying and you’ll find passionate support for both sides. They cite everything from the highly technical specifics of how one manufacturer’s particular machine out-performs the others for certain applications, to extremely subjective reasoning along the lines of: “I just like color of the machine, and the way the logo looks…”
One of the more common threads, however, and perhaps a telling sentiment in this long running debate can be summed up as: it’s a welder, as long as it works, it’s good enough for me. But can it really be that simple? Can we boil down all the dramatic pledges of allegiance to one manufacturer or the other to whatever works, works? It’s certainly worth a closer look, so join me for a quick investigation into these two titans of the welding equipment trade.
Lincoln Electric - The Welding Experts
Recently, a 16 year veteran of the welding trade, described Lincoln as the Harley Davidson of welding. This is because so many welders express such passion for the brand. But, if we’re sticking with the marketing scenario posed in the introduction, Lincoln would be the Coke or Budweiser of welding equipment.
Founded in 1895 by John Lincoln (joined five years later by his younger brother James Lincoln), Lincoln initially began manufacturing electric motors, but in 1911 produced the first ever variable voltage, single operator, portable welding machine.
Today, Lincoln manufactures not only a multitude of welding machines, but also hundreds of welding related products and accessories. We recognize them as one of America’s more successful mid-sized manufacturing companies. They call themselves the welding experts and they invest a ton of funds into research and development, most likely the highest in the industry to maintain the image of being the welding "experts". Just a few hours from us in Cleveland, Ohio Lincoln Electric has their US Headquarters.
Miller Electric - Why people Bleed Blue
Miller is definitely Pepsi, a bit sweeter giving them a huge market share advantage. Just as Pepsi challenged Coke’s hegemony in the soft drink market with their “choice of a new generation” campaign, Miller has positioned themselves as a leader in innovation, often favored by a “new generation” of welders. Most likely due to simple to use interfaces and information available on Miller equipment and accessories.
Launched in 1929 by Appleton Wisconsin native Neils Miller, the company was conceived to meet a growing demand from affordable arc welding equipment in rural Wisconsin. Renowned as an innovator in the industry, Miller developed the first welding machine to feature a built-in wire feeder, the Millermatic 35. With a heavy focus on research and development, Miller has released hundreds of products and carries on their tradition of creating cutting-edge welding equipment. Today they make the popular Millermatic 211 MIG welder and Miller 220 AC/DC a multiprocess wire feeder welder both highly rated for ease of use.
Beyond the equipment Miller Electric has a great reputation for customer service. Owning a Miller welder you have confidence in the support from the manufacturer. Speaking from the end users or distributor perspective Miller is a pleasure to do business with. They are great to work with and have great knowledgable support on the phone in Appleton, WI as well as great local representation. Miller also assembles their welders in Wisconsin. Miller has a focus on the philosophy of continuous improvement. This is how Miller ensures a quality product, fast delivery, and great after sales support.
What the People say
OK, we’ve got the boring bio and introduction jazz out of the way. What do people really say about these companies, and why do they inspire such passion?
The consensus, based on my research, indicates the following:
Miller gets the nod for making better MIG and TIG welding machines. Which makes sense given their pioneering role in developing these processes. Lincoln is known for their excellence with stick welding machines, the process they developed a century ago.
Some welders swear by specific models of welding machines made by both companies. This is kind of a draw, as both companies seem to have an equal number of boosters. Availability of parts and service centers seem to be pretty equal. (We think they work hard to keep it that way)
Fabrication shops (of varying sizes and applications) seem to own more Miller welding equipment.
Welding equipment rental operations and distributors also tend to favor Miller welding equipment. Walking into a showroom you will see a lot of blue. Not because they are giving a set of sku's to stock but because they choose to stock and sell them.
People see Miller’s customer service as superior to Lincoln’s customer services, which some go so far as to describe as non-existent.
The report card issued by “the people” would seem to tip the scales in Miller’s favor. People love the Miller support and brand. Miller positions themselves high up in the marketplace, causing this characterization to be a bit skewed.
The Cadillac of Welding Machines
Consider for a moment the General Motors Cadillac car model. A Chevrolet or Buick, of comparable size and similar features (also made by General Motors) costs less than a Cadillac. Part of this is because certain standard items included in a Cadillac are additional options in a Buick or Chevrolet. The other major contributing factor is the value we assign to the Cadillac Name Brand. How often have you heard a product referred to as the “Cadillac Model,” as in the “Cadillac of Boats,” or a “Cadillac Margarita?”
When you purchase a Lincoln welding machine, you’re purchasing the Cadillac of welders. Lincoln is a brand name we associate with being the pinnacle of excellence in the welding equipment industry. They are certainly concerned with delivering quality service therefore, you will find customer service to be very attentive to your needs for large, high-end items. You can compare this to when you walk into a Cadillac dealership.
That being said, Miller has made many large volume sales to clients heavily concerned with their bottom line. For example, fabrication shops and equipment rental businesses. They do this with more competitive pricing and an aggressive marketing and solution approach. The Miller Electric sales team builds stronger relationships and takes the time to understand the decision makers to create loyalty.
Should we perceive Lincoln as having superior quality, Are Miller’s products in any way inferior to Lincoln’s products? The answers to these questions return us to very subjective territory. It’s very likely that it all depends on your personal feelings toward one brand or the other. They both are reliable and respected manufacturers of welding equipment. Pushing one another to stay on the top of their game!
Do We Have a Winner?
“I just like their colors, and the way their logo looks.” This is an actual argument that people have for each brand. That makes this is a competition in which deciding upon a clear winner is going to be pretty tough. Also depending on the geographical area we see some trends for loyal Lincoln areas and loyal Miller areas.
In conclusion, maybe all those with the attitude of “if it works, it works for me,” have it right. Furthermore, with the longevity of each of these brands, it’s apparent that we will be having the debate of Miller vs. Lincoln for many years to come.
Here at Baker's Gas we sell and service them both and are happy to help you find the best equipment based on your needs. Blue shop or red shop we are here for you.