Brinley Buckley-Roberts, Brand Manager at Carl Kammerling International, the home of C.K Tools, discusses why premium hand tools are worth the investment – both for end-users and wholesalers.
In the electrical trade, reputation is an important commodity. Whether you’re an electrician or wholesaler, reputation can be the difference in securing the next job or securing the repeat purchase. It also plays a vital role in one of the most integral parts of any job – the choice of tools.
Tool choice is a careful consideration for any electrician and wholesalers should always be cognisant of this; an inadequate tool could affect safety, it could compromise the finish, or it could lead to downtime and an un-forecasted replacement purchase. And if the tool choice was a recommendation at the wholesaler’s service desk then they fall short on the basic requirement of any transaction – trust.
While there will always be the industry need to offer ‘good, better, best’ options, stocking and recommending premium hand tools can really make a difference in both the short and long-term for wholesalers.
But what does premium really mean? What defines a premium hand tool?
The premium factor
There are several elements that contribute to the ‘premium’ factor: the R&D process; the source of the materials; the engineering and manufacturing procedures; to the quality control and accreditation. Each element undergoes a constant review as new materials, manufacturing techniques, or industry requirements are uncovered, with the effectiveness, durability and safety of the products always top of mind.
Research and development can mean many things but for C.K Tools this means listening intently to what the industry is asking for. C.K utilises a panel of professionals to not only find solutions to problems, but to also find the existing product evolutions that will make the job that much more efficient. From there, its NPD team go into design and consider the aesthetics, the ergonomics, and of course the materials. There’s no product without a clear rationale; each one is meticulously planned, CAD designed, prototyped and tested.
Material choice is of great importance to C.K Tools and has contributed considerably to a reputation built over more than 200 years. In the most part C.K Tools procure steel from and manufacture products in Germany, in particular the North Rhine, which is world-renowned for its steel production. The region’s steel has varying levels and mixes of chromium, which has excellent corrosion resistance, vanadium, which works as a deoxidiser and reduces wear, and molybdenum, which when combined with chromium gives greater strength and impact resistance.
Not content with its premium grade steel, the North Rhine is also known as the industrial heartland for tool manufacturing. The steel mills, chemical and water treatment businesses, and manufacturing plants all reside there and have developed great ways of collaborating over the years to ensure that the potential of the raw material is not lost through the processing and engineering stages.
C.K Tools has been working with its current manufacturing partners since 1904 and there’s a reason for it; In today’s market it is very rare that products are manufactured to the very peak of excellence but with German engineering practices that’s a given. Precision engineering requires a number of inputs and with hand tool manufacturing that starts with the quality of the die – the item used to stamp the shape of the tool in the steel. Utilising a mixture of CAD and CNC, dies can be cut to within a tolerance the equivalent of a human hair, delivering a near perfect product with every stamp
Other engineering techniques are then used to ensure our products live up to the premium tag. Induction hardening is a process we use to ensure that parts of products – such as the jaws on pliers – are hardened to withstand heavy usage and ensure long-term performance. It involves electromagnetically heating up the steel and then rapidly cooling it to maintain the desired properties.
The precision engineering techniques don’t stop at the steel; hand tools have to be inherently comfortable and safe to handle. To ensure this, every single screwdriver handle is injection moulded directly to the steel, giving the ultimate torsion-proof bond for increased reliability, durability, control and comfort.
A premium product isn’t just premium because a brand says it is; when other bodies endorse a product you know it sits above the rest. Across certain lines, C.K Tools’ products are VDE certified, which is the highest form of independent safety testing in the electrical trade, while the majority achieve GS (Gepruefte Sicherheit) and DIN (Deutsche Institut) accreditation, which are German standards that indicate performance and quality.
Premium tool brands know what matter; they understand their customers; they understand the requirements of each and every job; and they are unwavering in their pursuit of precision engineering the perfect product to sell and to use. So, as you can see, there’s a reason why German engineered products come with a premium, but rest assured, they’ll be the best orders you’ll place and the best recommendations you’ll make to your customers.
The C.K Tools online catalogue can be viewed here