In the past year, several new pro-targeted power tool brands have debuted on the American market, likely drawn by the booming construction industry and the market size, among other factors. Both imported and homegrown, the new brands are here because the companies believe there's plenty of opportunity for them to service the pro tool user—and most of them are planning to do so through non–big box pro channels.
More players in the category means more competition, and that keeps everyone on their toes, points out Dan Nelson, vice president of product development for Techtronic Industries North America, parent of Ridgid (circle 102), Ryobi and Milwaukee.
New entrants into the market include Perles USA (circle 105), Positec USA's Worx brand (circle 106), Hemi Power Tools from B3 Brands, Moty-Ko and Alltrade Tools' Kawasaki Power Tools (circle 109). Getting distribution will be a major hurdle for these newcomers, followed by overcoming established brand loyalties with pros, who often don't make tool purchases based only on price. New brands will have to prove their value in terms of features, function, durability, and reliability and prove that they will be around to support and service the products.
Although the power tool market seems saturated at all price levels, “there will always be gaps for price point products,” says Brent Withey, brand manager for Makita. The dealer has to decide how much shelf space to dedicate to lower-priced products, especially an unknown brand, and take care not to offer too many selections in a price range to avoid customer confusion, according to Withey.
New brands say they promise better margins, citing consolidation among established brands and competition against big box retailers as detriments to dealer profits. “When the classic chain of distribution's margins are being forced in the wrong direction by the big boxes, they need an alternative,” points out Gary Lahti, Perles USA's national sales manager.
It also is possible that smaller manufacturers may be able to provide a distributor with more dealer-focused service than some of the bigger brands, acknowledges Kevin Fairchild, senior product manager for Hitachi (circle 111). Indeed, some of the new brands contend that a company distributing only through pro channels may be able to provide service that is better geared to the needs of the pro distributor and customer in terms of product support and sales training. Plus the distributor will have a product line that does not directly compete against the big box down the road.
New brands also may be able to distinguish themselves by filling an underserved niche or by introducing unique technologies or features, established manufacturers concur. Positec's Worx line, for example, targets younger pros by providing explanations of features in catalogs, among others. Moty-Ko is targeting contractor suppliers by forming exclusive distributor partnerships. “We want our distributors to be competing against other tool lines, not against the distributor down the street,” says president Larry Motykowski.
Although it's natural to regard unknown, upstart manufacturers with suspicion, at one time every one of the current big power tool names was the new guy that managed to make a name for itself. Time will tell if some of the new players have what it takes to do the same.