As might be expected, the power tools market appears to be in good shape as the buoyant construction sector rides a strengthening wave in New Zealand.
Building Today editor Andrew Darlington asked Makita NZ sales manager Jamie Teague and Paslode ANZ senior product manager Daniel Birch about their company’s prospects, and the types of tools that have been selling well for them.
What types of tools in particular are currently selling well for you in what is now a buoyant New Zealand construction sector? Why do you think this is? Jamie Teague: Cordless power tools have been positive this year. I think this is due to advancement in technology around power, run time and the sheer range of products available on Makita’s 18v lithium-ion platform.
Daniel Birch: The Paslode Impulse range of framing and trim tools continues to be our number one sellers. The demand for these products is primarily driven by their cordless convenience and trusted reliability.
What is the forecast for your company’s tool sales over the next 12 months? What reasons would you give for this outlook?
JT: Our forecast is positive over the next 12 months, with the increase in building activity and new products coming to market.
DB: With a robust housing market, especially across the wider Auckland region, the demand for ongoing renovation and new building projects has seen steady growth in the building industry over the past year.
We expect our tools sales to follow strong growth predictions over the coming 12 months.
What types of new technology have been introduced in the power tools market that might have boosted tool sales over the past 12 months? — eg, batteries, accessories, cordless etc
JT: Brushless technology is proving popular, along with Makita’s 2 x 18v range of lithium-ion products. This is now offering AC power from Makita’s existing 18v platform — effectively cutting the cord on power tools.
DB: The cordless Impulse technology continues to be the platform of choice, delivering powerful solutions across a variety of applications.
We’ve also seen a huge increase in demand for the FrameMaster Product Nail Guide accessory as word quickly spreads about this easy-to-use attachment that provides a quick and cordless alternative to the traditional pneumatic method of fastening nail plates and bracing systems.
Do you think parallel-imported tools into New Zealand are having a significant effect on your sales figures? Do you think parallelimported tools provide genuine competition to the trade sector or are they mainly targeted at the DIY market?
JT: Parallel imports are always going to be in the market, but these don’t seem to be having as big an impact as they used to.
Consumers are starting to understand that tools purchased from sellers who obtain power tools from outside of New Zealand may not be built to the same standards, and that they may also have difficulty with back-up service and obtaining genuine parts.
DB: Imported tools are a genuine concern for the end user who is often being sold a Paslode product not designed for the New Zealand market, and that has to be modified locally to fire our 90mm length nails.
This not only creates a serious health and safety issue from a regulation and liability perspective, but leaves the end user with an unwarranted and unsupported product on a local level.
Many of these tools come with non-compliant charging systems designed for other markets which also pose a safety risk when used locally, and we have seen examples of importers fined heavily for this practice by various governing bodies.
The small amount of savings at the point of purchase can quickly turn into a costly exercise if things go wrong, so we advise end users to err on the side of caution.
Imported tools are targeted at the trade customer and, although relatively small in number, do have an effect on local distributors’ ability to sell tools in this market.
But as the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for”, and most consumers rely on our products way too much to take chances with imported products.
Is the strengthening US dollar having any effect on your bottom line and, if so, how?
JT: Yes, as the New Zealand dollar devalues it puts cost pressure on local distributors.
DB: The strong kiwi dollar over the past few years has enabled Paslode to not pass on any increase in manufacturing and supplying costs over this period.
This has allowed us to protect our channel partners and absorb any cost increases internally, which has been great for the end user.
But there will eventually come a time, if things deteriorate as predicted over the coming year, that we may see a need to review this strategy.
Do you have any further relevant comments that you would like to add?
DB: Keep an eye out for our innovative POS “Pallet House” display systems being rolled out nationwide.