Michael Springer 2017-10-03 02:10:55
WITH SALES FOCUS on STAFDA DEALERS AFTER EXITING THE HOME DEPOT, SALES ARE UP THREE YEARS AND COUNTING Hitachi Power Tools (Hitachi Koki USA, Ltd.) took a calculated risk when it declined shelf space for its nailers and fasteners at The Home Depot to focus on sales through smaller servicing dealers instead. In mid 2015, the brand exited The Home Depot in a move it considers beneficial to its professional customers and STAFDA houses alike. Hitachi decided to drive builders and remodelers to stores that stock a larger variety of fasteners and offer a range of services, including repairs — key benefits for pro users — while reducing dealer concerns about competition. “STAFDA dealers built our brand up and still provide the best service and customer experience for pros,” said Joe Leffler, Hitachi Power Tools vice president of sales and marketing. “STAFDA dealers provide even greater value on Hitachi now that they have no concerns about competition from The Home Depot on our brand.” Residential and multi-family professionals are the core of Hitachi’s nailer and fastener business, and the company knows that these pros need local service and local expertise. Time is money to Hitachi customers, who can’t afford downtime waiting for repairs or for shipments of fasteners that some box stores don’t stock. Pro users benefit greatly from customer service options such as in-house technicians who can seamlessly rotate tools out for repair and provide loaners instead of sending the customer away to an outside service center. The same goes for the convenience of doing business at a place that stocks special fastener types that may be required by local codes or regional building material preferences. The benefits of one-stop shopping for busy contractors shouldn’t be overlooked. While the internet serves as a common outlet for some items, most nails and other fasteners are still purchased in brick-and-mortar stores by builders and remodelers. With consumable fasteners making up as much as 95 percent of the nail-to-nailer profit ratio for the pro market, this is business that dealers want to keep. With all-inclusive sales and customer services, a store should be equipped to keep its customer happy — and coming back. Reducing the exposure to buyers who frequent the big orange store may have seemed like a risky move at the time, but in the few years since, Hitachi has experienced increased sales numbers across the board. Its combined power tool and fastening systems (nailers and nails) business was up 20-plus percent the first year, 15-plus the next and is up over 10-plus percent already in 2017. Hitachi’s fastening systems segment fared even better with increases of 30-, 20- and 10-plus percent respectively. Leffler says that prioritizing sales through pro-oriented dealers has nearly doubled Hitachi’s STAFDA business since 2015. WHAT’S NEXT With an estimated 60 to 70 percent share of some U.S. pneumatic nailer markets, Hitachi is a giant in fastening systems, and it is working to expand its power tool business as well. A change in ownership earlier this year will help with that goal. Hitachi’s parent company sold off the Hitachi Power Tools division, which comprised less than two percent of its overall business. Now free of the “small fish” status in a multinational conglomerate, Hitachi Power Tools and its new owners, KKR, are investing anew in product innovations. Recent corded tool innovations include brushless rotary and demo hammers, impact wrenches and a brushless AC motor grinder that is designed to extend tool life and deliver undiminished performance even when using a generator and long extension cords on a job site. In cordless tools, Hitachi’s unique Triple Hammer Impact Driver uses a third anvil to increase driving speed, beats per minute and torque while decreasing vibration. From his sales and marketing perspective, Leffler sees battery-powered cordless nailers as the next big growth opportunity and advises independent dealers to promote HItachi cordless nailers alongside its popular pneumatic nailers as a complete solution for professionals. Since they are already selling well in STAFDA houses, Hitachi’s cordless nailers could have huge growth potential for smaller tool dealers and lumber yard suppliers as well. Buyers who prioritize shelf space for pneumatic nailers shouldn’t overlook these new tools just because they are SKUs from the power tool line. “Don’t underestimate the market for cordless nailers,” Leffler urges. “Hitachi’s pneumatic and cordless engineers collaborated to produce a top-of-the-line cordless finish and framing nailer series that offers the end user a pneumatic feel in a true cordless (no gas) body. No other cordless framing tools offer the consistent and powerful driving of Hitachi and its unique Air Spring Drive System. These tools are gaining traction with core customers because cordless nailers offer great benefits for remodelers and residential contractors.” Growing interest in cordless nailers opens the door for other cordless tool sales as well. Construction professionals expanding their tool arsenals with Hitachi cordless nailers are simultaneously buying Hitachi 18-volt battery packs and chargers too, which then attracts tradespeople to adopt other tools from its line. To sweeten the deal, Hitachi recently launched a new affordable battery program, retailing compact 3.0-Ah packs at $39.99 and compact 1.5-Ah packs at $29.99. When asked to sum up the “post- HD” relationship between Hitachi and its dealers, Leffler concludes, “STAFDA has helped grow our business significantly since we exited The Home Depot in 2015. However, there is much more growth and profit potential in the breadth of Hitachi’s complete tool line. STAFDA dealers who engage the Hitachi lineup won’t have to compete with The Home Depot. This is a big advantage considering how big a competitor they are on power tools.” Hitachi Koki USA, Ltd. is the North American division of Hitachi Koki Japan. Visit www.hitachipowertools.com. Michael Springer is a respected independent writer and tool tester. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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