Report by Peter Brett
With 40 years of trading to celebrate, 2015 is an important year for THS. The Directors spoke of addressing the range of challenges facing the tool market with confidence. Perhaps one of the less challenging decisions was to organize the annual show at the new venue at Donington Park. The decision was, in the opinions of everyone I spoke to, a great success because it got the thumbs up for a wide range of reasons. For visitors, the warm space was welcoming and well lit and organised, with facilities like tea, coffee and snack food available on tap. There were a number of informal sitting areas where the free Wi-Fi could be accessed as well as a huge demo area for the people who just need to see the “hands-on” stuff. People like me for example!
The exhibitors also liked the venue because of its easy motorway and airport access and free and generous parking close by. But their biggest thumbs-up was for the ease and speed of access to the hall for setting up stands. A big plus, especially for those who need to get going quickly at the end of a day – October being a very busy month for shows and exhibitions.
A theme for some of the exhibitors I spoke to was how to make the best use of show days. Many had new stand designs, publicity, video demos, mini-competitions and the staples of free pens and chocolate. Successful marketing often means being able to stand out from the crowd, so they are looking at increasingly ingenious methods to do just that. However, it still seems that a really slick demo is a crowd puller and sales generator. I await the results of the post mortems with interest…
The power tool market continues to grow in double digits each year, and there were many power tool companies who had new models on display. Flex Power Tools had a range of new 18v drivers to show. Very compact and up to date, I look forward to giving them a review in ToolBUSINESS +HIRE soon.
Key news at Hitachi centred on the new site radio (see this November’s issue) and the 12v cordless driver duo.
Metabo’s big draw was its excellent range of well-priced and very capable mitre saws – all bases covered from mains to cordless. The new Lithium HD battery technology has been a phenomenal success too.
Fein had newish mains Multi-Master with reduced noise and vibration, but with the 18v cordless version now in stock, my fingers are twitching to get a test done soon. Also new, were the 12v cordless drivers (It seems to me that 12v is the new 14.4v as so many manufacturers seem to be launching new models in that segment.)
Over at Panasonic, the new “carbon fibre” look drivers have a number of key advantages like dual battery platforms and weather sealing. In an era where choosing the best battery platform for you is key, since it will very likely ensure continued loyalty to a brand, battery flexibility makes a lot of sense.
Draper had a prominent stand as ever and with new products aplenty promised in the New Year, I am keen to get down to Draper’s demo and sales area at Chandlers Ford to get my hands dirty.
Wera always has a steady stream of new concepts to market, most of which add directly to the Wera “System” and make it easy for users to continue to buy Wera kit.
Rollins had a generous display of some very good “standard” products like Estwing Hammers and Channellock pliers that no trade can afford to ignore. But when you have used a quality hammer for example, it is very hard to ignore the shortcomings of a cheap hammer, especially if you are using it every day.
DART Tools have a similar philosophy, picking from a range of manufacturers to provide best value and quality for many users.
The brightest stand by far was Schneider’s – lit by its range of very well designed and flexible work lights. In a market driven by price it was good to see such clever functionality and bright but diffused lights.
As a dealer, one can’t afford to ignore work clothing these days, and the competition is very fierce. Brands like Dickies and JCB are well established, but the new boy on the block, Dassy from Belgium, displayed a good range of standard workwear for men, as well as a range designed to fit women perfectly - a trend that acknowledges the growing number of women in the trades.
Adhesives, paints, lubricants were also well represented. I need to find a good use for the sample cartridge of Siroflex adhesive, but since I use wipes all the time now, the Ambersil ones look like they will go straight into my site bag ready for use. Delta adhesives and silicon tapes are also high on my agenda since I always seem to have a few minor emergencies that need dealing with. And to throw a light on it all, a good torch from Coast or LED Lenser is now an absolute necessity as the clocks go back on Sunday.
Although gambling wasn’t on the menu this year, the Radisson Hotel was a spacious and gracious venue for the annual members’ and suppliers’ dinner. A relaxed event, and judging from the babble of conversation, a very friendly and chatty one too. Well done THS organisers!
For more photos of the day visit www.facebook.com/ToolBUSINESSHIRE-Magazine/