TradeTools is proudly one of Queensland's leading suppliers of professional tools & related equipment; making & the supplying of tools being the human race’s second oldest profession of course! And, across almost 30 long years of trading, we have continuously managed to thrive & stay profitable every single year whilst staying famously competitive &, we like to believe, a few steps ahead of the game. And we have managed all this by staying true to the most basic set of business principles ever devised throughout history. So, if you do actually consider us to be a slice of a humble home grown Queensland success story, here's broadly how we managed it!
1. WE HAVE NEVER HAD ANY BORROWINGS & NEVER WILL HAVE!
For a start, we have never expanded until we have actually had the money in the bank in order to do so. We never borrowed a cent from anyone &, if we couldn't afford to pay cash for something in the old days, we went without, simple as that, & that is still the case today & will never change. Such a crying shame that our politicians just don’t seem to get this simple time honoured rule.
2. WE ALWAYS REINVEST UP TO 90% OF OUR ANNUAL PROFITS!
We saved up all of our 'meagre profits' years ago & plunged into importing direct from the manufacturers, wherever possible, many lines that we were previously buying from local suppliers. Over time we have managed to build up an extensive & superb range of exclusive products; & that is still why much of what we sell you just can't buy anywhere else. Last year alone we imported well over 300 containers of products from overseas, many of which were double sized 40 footers. We now have a massive [by our humble standards anyway] warehouse on the northern Gold Coast where all these great products gets unloaded & distributed from.
3. WE ARE ALSO MANUFACTURERS!
Over 25 years ago we began manufacturing our own range of Renegade Air Compressors as we just couldn't get the strength, quality or design we needed elsewhere. This has slowly morphed into a fully set up manufacturing facility at Ormeau with full welding, tank rolling, spray & assembly facilities on hand. So, we still proudly assemble most of our belt driven compressor units &, after 25 years, we have lost count of just how many thousands of Renegade Industrial Air Compressors that we have sold throughout our TradeTools stores. Renegade......the compressor that helped built Queensland…… & still a proud TradeTools exclusive product! Actually, years ago, they were mostly built by me! I’d build them at night, or first up in the morning before opening the store, then wheel what I had made outside so as the paint would dry. Trouble is, when we loaded them onto customer’s vehicles, our hands very often got stuck on the uncured paint! That is why my fingerprints are usually all over the first models we made over 25 years ago……………ah the good old days before political correctness, The [un]Fair Work act & our currently outrageous $75 Billion Queensland state debt!
4. WE REALLY TRY TO LOOK AFTER OUR STAFF!
I realised years ago that without my best staff, life at TradeTools would become increasingly tough for me. So, I formed a separate company within TradeTools trading under the same name & gave away those shares to many of the most loyal & active long term staff members throughout our stores. Well, it worked, & that is why you see so many old faces throughout TradeTools, many of whom have been working here for 20 years or more. Our shareholders are now our 35 top staff members, so they enjoy a portion of the profits & growth, plus our many loyal customers now get served by many of the actual owners of this business. That must surely guarantee a much better level of advice, experience & diligence. I suppose it’s a hybrid of capitalism & communism...........can't be all bad..........seems to work in Japan & China! Most importantly, I get to sleep much more soundly at night knowing that I have 34 other shareholders sharing the growing pains, future & security of this ever expanding business!
5. WE OWN OUTRIGHT ALMOST ALL OF OUR BUILDINGS!
We own most of our buildings. That’s right, in most TradeTools premises we pay NO RENT, & that is one major reason why we can pay our staff proper dignified salaries, not cut corners in anyway, yet still stay famously competitive on price on just about everything we stock & sell. Quite frankly, we often wonder how many other tool companies can ever compete with us, seeing as we have such a low overhead structure mainly due to us just about owning everything we occupy & use throughout this business. Of course, many of our 'so called' competitors have gone spectacularly broke trying to compete with us over the years, & it's not a pretty sight whenever it happens, quite depressing actually! The list of competitors that have been & gone since we opened is actually now quite startling, & I'm sure we’ll see more come & go as the years roll by. As our bank manager once commented...... "the world order will have to collapse before TradeTools goes broke".........& that’s how we all like it here. And Australia needs vibrant, innovative ,well run successful private companies like TradeTools otherwise, let’s face it, we could end up like the USA where Walmart, McDonalds, KFC etc employ huge swathes of the population at near starvation wages. Australia deserves a better & brighter future & is surely capable of more than that; all of us here at TradeTools certainly believe so anyway!
6. WE DON’T FRANCHISE ANY OF OUR STORES!
Many people ask if our stores are franchised? They are not.....& it is very simple to explain why not. We have nothing against franchises, in fact in many industries it works just fine, but the tool industry is probably not one of them. Services industries, the food industry & some high end retail operations seem ideally suited to the franchising model as they usually have something totally unique or unusual to offer. These are mainly businesses where a definitive model has been established & simplified over time, and where often a new entrant can pick up and become a relative expert by attending a training course spread over a few weeks or months at the most. This was never the case in the tool industry where it can takes years of intense involvement before anyone really begins to reach a level of proficiency whereby they are capable of holding their own against a group of ‘oddballs’ like us. Plus, it now takes a lot of money to properly open & stock a modern specialist tool store, in fact, looked at from a purely financial standpoint as an investment, you'd now have to be certifiably mad to now even begin to consider it in the first place! (Some say we are!). And if you are not directly importing a solid 30% of your stock holdings directly into your stores from overseas manufacturers (as we have already said, we did well over 300 containers just last year alone!) the likes of Bunnings, Mitre 10, Blackwoods etc etc, plus a whole host of other billion dollar plus organisations, could have us for breakfast anytime it suited them! Even after taking into account that we own outright most of our many buildings (read again: no rent!), have no overdraft or borrowings of any sort, & not forgetting that we pay zero franchise fees either, like many larger retail operations we still feel lucky to see nett profit margins of just 6% after tax. Let me repeat that figure.....6% after tax! Admittedly, this is on a relatively high turnover but, as a pure investment, it's an absolute shocker! Our company proudly represents the exact opposite of Australia’s typical chains & conglomerates, most of which seem to be run by a bunch of outrageously overpaid guys in suits, lording it over a distant army of poorly paid workers, most of whom often earn less than one hundredth of what the big boss earns! Quite simply, TradeTools is a business set up to benefit everyone concerned with our enterprise; honest, ethical & principled, all qualities getting increasingly harder to find in today’s greedy & ever more lop sided world! So, unless you really are mad, think very carefully before plunging your hard earned savings into any form of tool store in Australia. It's been tried before, and has often ended in tears, & we have few real doubts at all that it will one day end in more tears yet again, especially whenever the next downturn hits!
7. WE ARE AS CLOSE TO BEING RECESSION PROOF AS ANY BUSINESS CAN BE!
Every few years or so Australia has a recession &, the longer between recessions, the worse it proves to be whenever it hits. So, now being 25 years since the last proper downturn, interest rates on the floor, a debt binge that has created a huge asset bubble, house prices that when we opened in 1987 averaged 5 times the average annual Australian wage whereas now it’s a crazy 12 times, Brexit, many European nations technically bankrupt, our car industry in its death throes, major companies like BHP & Woollies posting massive losses, rapidly increasing federal debt. Well, you certainly don’t need an economics degree to figure out that our collective financial futures all now look decidedly shaky! In fact, in 40 years in business, I have never seen things look so potentially catastrophic as they are now! But, the TradeTools model has been set up to weather the very worst of recessions, in fact our only large overhead is our wages bill, & that is relatively easy to control when every other overhead is either easily affordable or, as in rent, almost non-existent. As a famous ancestor of mine once stated “pray for peace…..but be ready for war” …….excellent advice indeed & one that we have always heeded at TradeTools…….& something else that will never change here. And whenever the next recession hits……as it most surely will………we will once again see much of our competition whither, struggle to survive, or close……just as they have always done so often before. And nobody get any pleasure at all from watching this, particularly if they are well meaning tool store owners, or franchisees, who have invested their life savings into some overly optimistic venture that, from the outset, was probably doomed to fail.
8. WE REALLY TRY & LOOK AFTER OUR CUSTOMERS!
Much of the stuff mentioned before is really all about us servicing our customers in the best possible way we can. After all, we can’t do that if we’re not properly in business, solid, reliable & successful. This constitutes having a broad range of the right products to offer, trusting their reliability & fit for purpose, having them priced fairly & competitively &, most importantly, actually having them in stock! Of course, many of our competitors have some of the same or similar products to offer, but they are often out of stock, don’t really understand the buyer’s needs by selling the wrong product, have no workshop facilities to either fix, repair or warranty what they offer, or simply try & charge more than we do. We often hear that it’s often just a sorry mixture of all of the above! Of course, we are not perfect &, being only human, we do occasionally stuff up! However, if we do stuff up, we will ALWAYS try & fix whatever we did that was wrong, in fact it is a pleasure to try & fix anything that wasn’t done right just as long as what is being asked of us is fair & reasonable. Can’t be more open & honest than that! So, if ever you do have a problem with TradeTools that you genuinely feel was not handled correctly, you are most welcome to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org & I will personally guarantee that fixing it will be overseen by me. Seeing as our fellow Queenslanders have been helping us here at TradeTools for almost 30 long years to become the successful business that we hope we have become, fixing the broadly fixable is the very least that I can personally offer in return. And turning something that was wrong, into something that is right, should always give everyone a good proud feeling, especially us.
9. WE HAVE REAL PEOPLE ANSWERING OUR PHONES....NEVER MACHINES!
I just can’t believe the amount of money many companies throw at advertising in order to get you to make contact, & then, when you do, they expect you to speak into a machine that asks you to press buttons before telling you how busy they are but how important your call is! Whereas, every time you phone a TradeTools store you will be answered by a real human being, it’s really that simple. This process makes everything much easier for our valuable customers, & ourselves of course, & we just can’t see how so many other businesses don’t get that? Okay, we nowadays expect to get very poor service from banks, mobile phone companies, power companies etc etc, but there is just really no excuse for any of this, it’s just poor business ethics & a pretty appalling way to treat your fellow human beings........or 'consumers' as we are dehumanisingly too often called. At TradeTools we have experienced staff at the ready when you call in, or phone, & that will always be the case. But, when I go elsewhere to buy something, I can’t believe how depressingly often I am attended to by people that either don’t really know what they are talking about, don’t care, or both. It’s actually a very pleasant surprise these days whenever you are served by someone who really does care, or know what they are talking about, & that is always what we have tried to do at TradeTools stores, it’s just part of our inherent culture. Sure, everyone has the odd bad day, but we like to think that your overall experience at TradeTools is one that shows us to be a positive, involved, well run & extremely competitive company. Isn’t it a shame though that these days good service seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Standing in queues, getting substandard advice, receiving wrong or false information, being overcharged, having to fight over warranties etc, all seem to be waiting to ensnare us as unwary 'consumers' wherever we choose where to spend our hard earned money. We try very hard for that never to be the case at TradeTools & we well understand that is it far better for the soul, reputation & pocket, for us to try & keep our current customers happy & returning, rather than to constantly try & replenish them with new less demanding new ones. We still have customers that have been with us for almost all of our 30 long years, & we must say thank you to all of those, & we are very proud to have served you!
10. WE SOMETIMES GIVE THINGS AWAY……….LIKE HARLEY DAVIDSONS!
Being a 'modestly' successful Queensland company, we can afford to be generous sometimes. It is our way of saying Thank You for being our customer………….without you guys we wouldn’t be here……. it’s that simple…….& we know it! So again, & this time in tandem with Stanley Sidchrome, we are giving away a brand new Harley Davidson as a prize for this upcoming January. You will find all the competition entry details on our home page, & there is a good chance of winning as there just won’t be 'millions of people' in the drawer as so often expected elsewhere. Quite simply, all you have to do is buy any Stanley, Sidchrome, Dewalt or Bostitch product which makes you eligible to enter the drawer, all details of which you will find either on our home page or in store. We have handed over free Harley’s to TradeTools competition winning customers before, in fact it’s one of the very best things that we ever do as everyone feels really great on the day, especially us!
So, once again, our heartiest of thanks for being a TradeTools customer, one of which will again be riding away on a free Harley Davidson in just a few weeks time!
Ormeau Head Office.