Survey: Contractor Tool Purchases at Retail Rising

Special to CONTRACTOR DES PLAINES, ILL. CONTRACTOR readers spend, on average, $18,805 a year on power tools, according to a survey conducted among the magazines readers in February. Most of those purchases are made through the traditional supply chain: 42.6% of power tools are bought at industrial supply houses and another 11.5% through plumbing wholesalers, the research states. That number is down,

Special to CONTRACTOR

DES PLAINES, ILL. — CONTRACTOR readers spend, on average, $18,805 a year on power tools, according to a survey conducted among the magazine’s readers in February.

Most of those purchases are made through the traditional supply chain: 42.6% of power tools are bought at industrial supply houses and another 11.5% through plumbing wholesalers, the research states. That number is down, however, from our survey last year when 49.3% of respondents told us that they bought their power tools from an industrial distributor and 15.5% said they purchased them from their plumbing wholesaler.

Retailers appear to be capturing a bigger share of the professional power tool market: 28.1% of contractors in this year’s survey say they purchase their tools at retail compared with 20.2% in 2004. Contractors buying tools over the Internet also is rising with 6.5% of respondents saying they buy tools online, up from 5.7% last year. Catalog purchases have remained steady with 6% of contractors saying they buy tools that way, a slight dip from 6.5% in 2004.

CONTRACTOR sent the survey by e-mail to 16% of its readers. Two-thirds of respondents list their title as owner, president or vice president. Among the goals of the research was to determine:

  • The annual expenditure on power tools and where they are typically purchased;
  • The level of use of various corded and cordless power tools;
  • The voltage of battery packs used to recharge cordless tools;
  • The types of contracting work the reader is engaged in; and
  • The percentage of the respondent’s work that is new construction vs. retrofit/remodeling.

The reciprocating saw is the most popular corded power tool with 90.6% of respondents saying that they use the tool; 63.4% say they also use a cordless model.

Close behind is the corded circular saw with 90.1% usage among readers; 56.5% of respondents also use a cordless model.

The most popular cordless tools among respondents are power drills and drill drivers, with both tools being used by about three of four readers, 76.9% and 74.9% respectively. After the saws mentioned above, the next most popular cordless tools are hammer drills (51.5%), rotary hammers (22.9%) and demolition hammers (16.5%).

For the cordless tools, most contractors prefer an 18-volt battery pack, which is used by 81.3% of respondents. Other popular battery packs are: 14.4v (used by 42.5% of respondents), 24v (28.6%), 12v (24.1%) and 9.6v (14.4%).

In the corded category, after the saws, the next most popular items are: hammer drills (used by 89.6% of respondents), power drills (85.6%) and demolition hammers (78.5%). Other corded tools in common use among CONTRACTOR readers are: drill drivers (73.7%), rotary hammers (72.7%), pipe-threading machines (72.2%), pipe-cutting machines (63.8%), drain-cleaning machines (49.6%) and floor drivers (34.9%).

The respondents to the survey say that 60.2% of their construction activity is remodeling or retrofit work and 39.8% comes from new construction. The average number of people employed by the respondents is 53.

With obvious overlap, 78.4% of respondents say they perform commercial work and 77.9% say they do residential. Results from the same questions show that 36.6% work on industrial projects and 27.4% perform institutional work.

Two-thirds of respondents say they do plumbing work, and 45.8% specify that they remodel baths and kitchens. More than half (53%) work on hydronic heating systems; 38.1% of respondents specify that they do radiant floor heating; and 17.8% say they install or service snow-melt systems.

Among all respondents, 24.5% do process piping; 18.3% derive business from private water systems; and 12.4% work on fire sprinkler systems.

TAGS: Remodeling