BY CANDACE ROULO
Of CONTRACTOR’s staff
CHICAGO — CONTRACTOR’s 2009 Power Tool Study, completed this spring, shows that the number of readers purchasing power tools online continues to increase — 9.6% of readers purchase power tools online, compared to 8.5% in 2007 and 7% in 2006.
The 2009 Power Tool Study was conducted via the Internet. An invitation to participate in the survey was e-mail to 12,000 subscribers selected from CONTRACTOR’s circulation list. A total of 494 responses were received, a 4.1% response rate. Of those responses, 73.2% of readers list their title as owner, president, vice president, partner or CEO.
The survey shows that readers are engaged in the following types of work: plumbing (68.8%), hydronic heating (54.3%), bath/kitchen remodeling (52%), radiant floor heating (44.9%), green mechanical contracting (21.9%), solar (17.4%) and sprinkler/fire protection systems (10.7%). The average number of people employed by readers’ firms is 31. Results show 46.8% of firms employ one to four people and 19.3% of firms employ five to nine people.
Based on the survey, 61.1% of readers typically purchase power tools at industrial supply houses and home centers while 9.6% use the internet to purchase power tools. Plumbing wholesalers capture 14.9% of readers’ power tool purchases while 5.1% of readers purchase power tools at hardware stores and 3.5% use catalogs to make power tools purchases.
The average annual expenditure on power tools has decreased when compared to annual expenditures in 2007. Two years ago, readers spent $18,483 annually on power tools. The 2009 Power Tool Study concludes that the average annual expenditure on power tools is $16,300, with 44.8% of readers spending $1,000-$4,999 annually.
Readers were also asked about the type of battery packs used for cordless power tools. According to the survey, 88.1% of readers use 18-volt battery packs. Also, 30.5% use 14.4-volt battery packs.
The circular saw and reciprocating saw are the two most popular corded power tools used by readers — 89.3% use the circular saw and 89.1% use the reciprocating saw. The hammer drill and demolition hammer are also popular among readers — 86% use the hammer drill and 81.5% use the demolition hammer. Other corded tools in use among readers are the power drill (78.6%), drill driver (73.9%), rotary hammer (73.5%), pipe thread machine (72.6%) and pipe cutting machine (64.4%).
On the job, 48.8% of readers report heavy usage of the reciprocating saw, and 11.5% report heavy usage of the circular saw. Readers using hammer drills report 30.7% heavy usage while readers using demolition hammers report 21.4% heavy usage.
Among cordless power tool use, 80.9% of readers use drill drivers, 75.1% use power drills, and 73.2% use reciprocating saws. On the job, 56.9% of readers report heavy usage of drill drivers, 50.4% report heavy usage of power drills and 38.4% report heavy usage of reciprocating saws.
The 2009 Power Tool Study also asked readers about their vehicle fleets. The survey shows that 25.5% of readers have three to five trucks in their fleet and 22.8% of readers have two trucks. Other vehicle fleet sizes are six to nine trucks (12.1%), 10-14 trucks (8.2%), 15-24 trucks (4.7%), 25-49 trucks (5.5%), 50-99 trucks (1.6%) and 100 or more trucks (2.9%).
The survey also concludes that 69% of readers’ construction activity is in remodeling/retrofit, which has increased by almost 7.7% since the 2007 study when 61.3% of readers’ construction activity was in remodeling/retrofit. Residential construction activity among readers has also increased by 6.2% — residential construction activity among readers in 2007 was at 77% and is now at 83.2%. Reader involvement in commercial construction decreased by 0.9% since 2007. Results of the 2009 study show that 77.5% of readers are involved in commercial construction.