It's time once again for our annual Editors' Choice Awards for the year's best tools, accessories, and jobsite solutions. This year, we spotlight 13 great products that will help you save time and avoid trouble–two of my biggest pet peeves as a builder and employer.

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Rick Schwolsky

Nowhere is it truer than in the construction industry that time is money. And during challenging economic periods like the one we're in right now, one of the best ways to make money is to stop wasting time. A good way to do that is to work with tools and equipment that increase your productivity, decrease downtime, and help you do your best work the first time so you don't have to return to correct anything. Like the old saying goes, if you don't have time to do it right the first time, where are you going to find the time to fix it later?

We see a lot of new tools every year and have to select Editors' Choice Award winners from a strong group of new introductions. While we search all year for the coolest ideas, we have our feet on the ground; we recognize true innovations that bring real improvements to pro tool users, and we base our decisions on practical criteria.

Reliability, safety, and performance matched with the intended application all factor into tools that help you save time and avoid trouble. Tools that run longer, live longer, and produce more man-hours of work add to your bottom line. Versatile tools that increase your efficiencies. And tools and equipment that increase safe operations not only save you the time and money lost when a crew member is injured, but the heartache and potential trouble caused by having a worker go down.

Even with all the new technology and features that manufacturers incorporate into all kinds of tools and accessories each year, to me the trend that leads successful companies these days has to be their focus on what they call the end user. That's you.

It used to be that product design teams generated new ideas by comparing notes in-house. But now these same teams take the time and go to the trouble to listen to customers first, study their workday and tool use habits, document their frustrations and challenges, and measure their productivity.

Armed with this view of end-user reality, design teams base their planning on what they've learned, heard, and seen on the jobsite. These are the steps that lead to real jobsite solutions for professional tool users. You know the first time you try a new tool whether a company has a winner or not.

These are the same things we look for in the products we honor each year, the products that excite us with their practicality, usefulness, and genius, and in some cases inspire our admiration.

And as much as we award the products themselves, we honor the commitment these companies have made to their research and development in creating these award-winning tools.

–Rick Schwolsky, editor in chief rschwolsky@hanleywood.com