Rolling Tool Stores

Bringing the store straight to contractors wherever they are is an efficient, cost-effective model for the company and a great way to serve its customers. Each truck is loaded with hardware, fasteners, tools, nail pouches, hammers, chalklines, levels, laser levels and tripods, bits, blades –you name it. Special orders, compressors, ladders and staging, and tool repair pickups and drop-offs all are available for same-day or next-day delivery. They even have repair benches where drivers can pull maintenance or make minor repairs like changing O-rings or fixing air hoses while you wait.

Five of the rolling tool stores work within reach of the Edwards store and return home each night to re-supply. The other five trucks stay in their territories, and rendezvous each day with the flatbed supply truck sent out from the store.

Wireless computers with each driver send inventory data (entered every time a product leaves the truck) back to the company from each jobsite stop. By the time a truck is on its way back to the store, the pick-list for restocking the sold items that day has already been downloaded into a handheld device used by warehouse workers to select the items for re-supply. When the truck pulls in, its re-supply order is waiting on a forklift.

What the best stores do right:

  • Carry professional-grade inventory, including accessories and parts
  • Offer competitive pricing, including deeper discounts for priority customers
  • Provide personal service for pros based on relationships
  • Employ sales reps who can match the right tool to your needs and applications
  • Employ sales reps who know the differences between models and brands
  • Allow on-site demonstration before you buy
  • Provide a service and repair department with quick turnaround and loaner tools
  • Maintain outside jobsite services, including pick-up and drop-off of repair jobs
  • Offer special ordering for non-stock or unusual tools and equipment
  • Stand behind what they sell
  • Get you in and out fast, and give you service when you want it, but leave you alone when you're just trolling the aisles

Your Top Picks

We asked GCs and subs, woodworkers, tool company reps, and tool lovers from coast to coast, "Where is the World's Best Tool Store?" Here's what they said.

Northeast

Beaver Woodworking, Brockton, Mass.
Brentwood Machine Sales, Brentwood, N.H.
Burns Power Tools, Fall River, Mass.
Durfee's Hardware, Cranston, R.I.
Elwood Adams Hardware, Worcester, Mass.
Joseph Fazzio, Inc., Glassboro, N.J.
Montague Tool &Supply, Branchville, N.J.
N.H. Bragg &Sons, Bangor, Maine
Quaker Lane Tool, North Kingstown, R.I.

Midwest

ABC Ace Hardware, Alpena, Mich.
Berland's House of Tools, Chicago
Carlson Systems, Omaha, Neb.*
Electric Tool, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Fasteners Inc, Grand Rapids, Mich.*
Kel-Welco, Omaha, Neb.*
Linc Systems, Carmel, Ind.
Neu's Building Center, Menomonee Falls, Wis.
Performance Tool Center, Pontiac, Mich.
Pucketts Tools &Fasteners, Des Moines, Iowa
Seven Corners Hardware, St. Paul, Minn.
Total Tool, St. Paul, Minn.
Wolff Brothers, Medina, Ohio
Woodsmith Store, Des Moines, Iowa

South/Southeast

BSC Tool &Machine, Louisville, Ky.
Elliot's Hardware, Dallas
International Tool, Davie, Fla.
Leonards, Russellville, Ark.
Tools Plus, Wilmington, N.C.
United Tools, Houston

West/Southwest

Colorado Fasteners, Edwards, Colo.
Orco Construction Supply, Livermore, Calif.*
Tools-R-Us, Montclair, Calif.
Whitecap, Costa Mesa, Calif.*

Northwest

ABC Supply, Portland, Ore.
Alaska Industrial Hardware, Anchorage, Alaska*
Allied Building Supply, Tacoma, Wash.
Ballard Hardware &Supply, Seattle
Chas. H. Day Co., Portland, Ore.
DSC Industrial Supply, Poulsbo, Wash.
Hardwick's, Seattle
Jerry's Home Improvement Center, Eugene, Ore.
McClendans, Renton, Wash.

* indicates Headquarters

Rick Schwolsky is editor in chief of Hanley-Wood's Tools of the Trade and El Nuevo Constructor.