Q&A Trends in Jobsite Hand Tools
By Jennifer Morrell
What does it take for mason’s jobsite hand tools to stand the test of time and get the job done right?
Pro Masonry Guide sat down with a few of the industry’s most knowledgeable sources to find out.
Jason Feldner is general manager for OLFA North America, Jason Swanson is VP of communications/PR for RIDGID Power Tools, and Taylor Crenshaw is product manager for Milwaukee Tool, which offers REDSTICK Concrete Levels. Following is what they had to say.
Pro Masonry Guide: What are your considerations when you create and offer new jobsite hand tools for mason contractors?
Jason Feldner: Tools for masonry contractors have to stand up to some demanding work, so it’s all about durability and longevity because time is money. When it comes to hand tools like utility knives, there are a lot of low-cost solutions out there that eventually give you more problems in the long run. In this environment, blades dull faster, and you need to replace them more frequently.
Jason Swanson: We travel to jobsites to talk to the Pros, who are the ones using these tools every day. This helps us to better understand what they like and don’t like about their current tools in order to improve new product offerings for them in the future. Masons in 2018 are looking for a quality tool that will help them get the job done faster and easier, without breaking the bank.
Taylor Crenshaw: The mason/concrete worker is unique in that they are dealing with a very time-sensitive material. This causes them to have to work faster and more efficiently than most other types of contractors. In turn, the tools have to be easy to use and allow them to move around on the jobsite and quickly tackle the task at hand.
PMG: What trends are you seeing around the products you offer?
Swanson: The biggest trends that we see in the industry are that Pros are always looking for the most durable and comfortable tools for the job. We design jobsite hand tools that can handle the abuse that most others in the market cannot. We never compromise on durability and think that this is most important to our customers. Things like weight and size really more so depend on the end user and the job that they are doing, so we try to offer solutions for any scenario.
Crenshaw: We’re not necessarily looking at trends, we’re more looking at the user in a different way. We’re not just looking to copy another tool, but look at specific tasks/applications the user faces every day and how we can create jobsite hand tools that help them do that task more efficiently and comfortably. We look at the most important user needs for the tool being designed.
PMG: In a world of social media, online retail and advertising, how to you get your tools in front of masons?
Feldner: We use testimonials by getting products in the hands of actual users. Once you start using a quality utility knife that’s sharper and longer lasting than one you’ve ever used before, it clicks for people. On top of that, the feedback, opinions and needs of our users are at the core of OLFA new product development.
Swanson: We advertise through multiple publications and social media networks to get the news of our new line out into the industry. We also rely on the relationship that we have with Home Depot and the team that we have in place in stores. Our field team is trained in the use of each of our concrete tools and are able to help assist any Pro and non-Pro user who walks through the doors.
Jobsite hand tools to consider
Bosch GLL 55 and GLL 100 G Lasers
Bosch offers the GLL 55 and GLL 100 G Self-Leveling Cross-Line Lasers. The GLL 55 is a red line laser offering a razor-sharp line that’s visible up to 50 feet. The GLL 100 G green line laser is visible up to 100 feet. Each projects vertical, horizontal and cross lines, independently or together, to deliver maximum versatility for any application. Both lasers have VisiMax technology, which gives maximum beam brightness in varied jobsite conditions. BoschTools.com
OLFA Fiberglass-Reinforced Auto-Lock Utility Knife
OLFA’s 18-mm LA-X utility knife has a secure rubber grip, which lets you work with confidence. The handle is chemically resistant to paint and MRO environments. This knife also features OLFA Ultra-Sharp Black Premium blades, which are double-honed to a 59-degree edge angle to be 25 percent sharper than standard silver blades. Each 18mm Snap-Blade contains eight Ultra-Sharp cutting edges per blade. Olfa.com
REDSTICK Concrete Levels
The new REDSTICK Concrete Levels take a three-tool operation down to one by allxowing users to screed, smooth and level with the same tool. A magnesium base features a 2-inch-wide working surface with a rounded edge for smoothing and an angled edge optimized for screeding and striking. MilwaukeeTool.com
RIDGID London Brick Trowels
RIDGID introduces its Fully Forged London Brick Masonry Trowel. The trowel is fully forged from a single piece of high-carbon steel for extra strength and has a flexible taper ground blade for even mortar application without going through the “break-in period.” This minimizes surface gauging and accidental marks often left by new trowels.