Thursday, March 8, 2007

Tool Show Recovery Time

Just got back late last night from a major tool show in the state that is furthest from my hometown, Hawaii. Before you ooh and aah over the destination, let me tell you, after working a full day at the show, the return trip took 13 hours from airport to airport to airport. But the show was worth the travel time. Besides, it wasn't so bad to leave a warm tropically sunny island to return to a snow-ravaged, rain-dropped Ohio. And it's always good to get home, isn't it?

A couple of key things that came out of the show should be of interest to you. Everyone involved is interested in bringing new INNOVATIVE products to market. The idea is to develop tools that improve technician productivity, not just provide a tool with a new colored handle. Manufacturers and distributors alike are always on the lookout for those products that bring true innovation and can add value for the technician. Everyone, from manufacturer, to distributor, to professional technician (and anyone in-between) is interested in reducing flat rate times, making more money, being more safe, improving ergonomics. Investing in tools that help the technician accomplish all these is truly an investment in the future.

In addition to all the talk about innovation, there were a lot of cool new tools there as well to physically represent innovation. Companies like Lisle, A&E, Brush Research, Chicago Pneumatic, GearWrench, Innovative Products, Ingersoll-Rand, Makita, Mastercool, Mayhew, Mechanics Time Savers, OTC, Raytek, Schley Products, Steck Manufacturing, Streamlight, Tracer Products, Vacula, and so many more represented the best of US manufacturers. Many of these companies had their tables covered with new and innovative products. (I'm a little leery about mentioning certain manufacturers, because it's easy to leave someone out and I know I'll forget someone - so if I missed you, I'm sorry.)

Several suppliers had samples of new handles. Now, handles are not exciting. And, we're talking about screwdriver handles, pry bar handles, ratchet handles. Doesn't sound like much does it? I'd heard about the new handles on all these tools before, but this was my first time to physically hold them and I have to say - these guys have done a great job. So, technicians - be on the lookout for some really well-thought-out new designs in handles for common tools. The grips are comfortable for most size hands. Certain design features are unique to the product - meaning the manufacturer took into account those technicians that use their tools properly, and improperly, when they designed the new handles. So, look for these new products at your local tool store or mobile tool distributor and let me know what you think.

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