Milwaukee injects new ideas into bolt cutters
Milwaukee Tool expanded its Hand Tool offering with the addition of Bolt Cutters. The tool feature Powermove Extendable Arms, a feature that is claimed to provide 30% more cutting power.
“When it comes to bolt cutters, the durability of the jaws and bolts are everything to the user. Today’s solutions have blades that commonly wear or pit, impairing cut performance, and their pivot bolts have a tendency to loosen and fall out resulting in premature tool failure,” said Derek Rose, senior product manager for Milwaukee Tool. “To address these needs, we designed our new bolt cutters with forged steel blades that are custom heat treated for maximum dura-bility and feature a bolt lock that keeps the fasteners tight so the user can stay productive.
Available in 14” and 24”, the new bolt cutters are designed with forged steel blades and bolts that won’t loosen, the company says. The Powermove Extendable Arms, allow the user to extend the arms for more power and versatility.
New ProLock Stackable Tees
Designed for use in the Plumbing Market, the new ProLock Stackable Tees from John Guest are available in sizes from 1/2” x 1/2” x 1/2” CTS up to 1” x 1” x 3/4” CTS.
The versitile Stackable Tee allows for endless options of combinations and configurations. With these fittings, a manifold can be built in a matter of minutes, going in any direction you need. Its body is manufactured from high quality engineered plastic allowing the Stackable Tee to be UV resistant outdoors as well. Suitable for use with copper, PEX or CPVC pipe, these products require no tools to make secure, leak-proof connections.
The new ProLock Stackable Tees are also lead-free and carry a 25 year warranty against defect in materials or manufacturing, the company says.
Attacking the labor problem at its source
Strategies for the tight labor market include software solutions to improve planning, products that speed up production cycles and materials that can be installed and used in a wider range of temperatures. And then there’s the longer-term solution – recruiting the next generation to enter the building trades.
Rick Lierz, president of Boise, Idaho-based Franklin Building Supply and chairman of the National Association of Lumber and Building Material Dealers, says business is strong and growing at his 14-unit lumber industry. But there’s no doubt the lack of job site labor is a headwind at Franklin and other dealers around the country.
The NLBMDA and other regional dealer associations have been beating the drum for trade education and support for years. Meanwhile, Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe’s jumped into the movement in a significant way last week with plan to encourage and support its employees to gain training and skills in the building trades.
“We don’t see the labor problem getting better for awhile,” Lierz told HBSDealer. “And it’s certainly hurting our customers and all the trades.”
That’s a common viewpoint. A recent HBSDealer poll question finds dramatic solidarity behind the idea that the tight labor market is either directly or indirectly affecting business. HBSDealer specifically asked: “How is your business affected by the tight labor market?” More than 100 respondents generated the following breakdown:
- 61% — Directly
- 9% — Indirectly
- 20% — Directly and indirectly
- 11% — What tight labor market?
At Franklin Building Supply, the company is concentrating on lean business practices to boost productivity and efficiency of its own work force. It’s also implemented a new software system to “help us do more with less.” The company is also growing its business with trusses, cabinets and doors – products that help the builder customer speed up production. All these efforts are bearing fruit, he said.
But there’s also the long-term approach, and that’s where the NLBMDA and the regional associations come into play.
“As an industry, we need to entice more kids who aren’t on a college track to explore careers in the trades,” he said. “ There’s a whole generation missing from our industry.”
He said lumberyards – with a boost from their state, regional and national associations — are taking steps to attract young talent. They’re meeting local school districts and business leaders and promoting the idea that the lumber distribution business is “sexy.”
Those in the business understand the rewards of the career in LBM. The challenge is promoting that message to as large an audience as possible.
Lowe’s stepped up its support for the trades with an announcement last week of a labor development initiative that provides financial support to Lowe’s workers to pursue a skilled trade. The program is called “Track to the Trades.”
“The trade profession is a high-demand, high-opportunity field for the next generation workforce, and today, there is a massive unmet need,” said Jennifer Weber, Lowe’s chief human resources officer.
Her comments echo those of the Boise pro dealer.
“We need do more to get out and talk about it how that it’s a great career, and you can make a really decent living,” Lierz said.