OX – doing things differently

True to its brand promise of ‘Tough. Dynamic. Different’, OX Tools continues to innovate new products that stand out amongst competitors and meet tradies’ needs.

OX Tools’ new heavy duty safety work boot is due for release in September 2018.

The company’s latest releases to hit the Australian market are no exception. According to OX’s Marketing Manager Oliver Quinsey, it is the company’s dedicated focus on products that increase tradies’ productivity, rather than looking at what their competitors are doing, that drives every new product the company makes.

“That is our overriding philosophy – we ‘Live the Trade’. We understand what the tradie wants, we understand what the tradie needs on the jobsite and what his daily life is like, then channel that data back to our R&D teams to innovate tools that match the need,” Mr Quinsey explained.

“There’s a lot of ‘me too’ items and products on the market. From an OX standpoint, we’re continually challenging the status quo and looking for more innovative products that can increase the productivity of a tradesman or a tradie on site. We’re not just looking for the next ‘me too’ product to bring out; we’re looking to develop new innovations.”

According to Mr Quinsey, OX’s latest innovations are also born of a growing demand for more user friendly tools.
“There’s a big push for more ergonomic, user friendly products, which has resulted in us bringing out the new Speedskim,” he said.

Launched to the market in March this year and available in two types, Speedskim is a range of reimagined plastering and finishing rules offering plasterers and renderers time saving and long term health benefits.

“You’ve got a stainless steel blade and also a plastic blade. The main benefit is that they reduce the amount of time to finish off a project. For a renderer for example, if he is finishing off his cement render that he’s put on the wall, it doesn’t take very long to do because the Speedskim is a longer blade and it covers more area. It also reduces the risk of the harmful effects of strain and fatigue. Because of the larger blade you complete the job with less effort – one plasterer said it has added up to five years to his plastering career because of this technology!” Mr Quinsey said.

Mr Quinsey was excited to reveal that on the horizon, OX will be launching a new mixing drill, while a new safety boot is also due to hit the shelves in September this year.

“It’s a zippered work boot in a nubuck colour. It’s got a tonne of features and priced very well in the market. It features a steel end cap, padded ankles and YKK zippers, so it’s a heavy duty professional work boot that any tradie would be proud wear.”

“[The drill] has a new ergonomically designed handle, comfortable, user friendly, features powerful constant speed control, so you can control the different speeds very easily, durable rubber housing protectors, and it includes a free mixing paddle and a 12 month limited replacement warranty.”

New Speedskim from OX Tools offers plasterers and renderers safety and efficiency thanks to its larger blade.

Creating passion, driving sales
Continuing its dedication to the tradie, OX remains focussed on creating brand loyalty. The ‘Tools for Schools’ program, in conjunction with TAFE colleges, continues to put OX Tools in the hands of apprentices, which Mr Quinsey reports the company, and retailers, are now starting to see the benefits of.

“We still see brand loyalty having a huge impact in the Australian market currently,” he said.

“One of our customers recently told us, ‘We get young apprentices now coming into our store asking for the OX brand.’ So that cycle is now starting to tick over.”
Not to be satisfied, OX have since launched the ‘Tuff Club’, with the aim of further building brand loyalty for post apprenticeship aged tradies.

“We’re working very closely with the next generation of tradies, the guys in the 18 to 25 age group, to try and get them involved and become passionate about the OX Brand. The ‘Tools for Schools’ program is an awesome avenue for us so we can go out to TAFEs and get the students involved with the OX Brand, and then when they leave TAFE and go out into the workforce, they are passionate about, and loyal to, OX Tools.”

‘Tuff Club’ members are sent fortnightly emails containing information on new product launches, industry updates, product reviews and testimonials, competitions, giveaways and freebies.

“It’s about giving the tradie back something as a benefit and to create a connection and engagement with the tradie… basically we’re trying to connect a tradie with our brand to make them feel part of the OX community,” Mr Quinsey explained.

“Brand loyalty does dictate sales in the Australian market. If you can create passion for your brand and create that connection between the end user and the brand, you’ll definitely be able to go places with your brand.”

“Once we create the brand loyalty with OX, we’re then driving them, through the Tuff Club, back through into the retailers to make them buy the product off the shelf, and that in turn is increasing sales revenue for the stores,” Mr Quinsey said.

Sheffield Group enforces trust in product

Sheffield Group has enjoyed a time of exceptional growth through innovation, with several new developments coming to fruition recently.

Sheffield Group Sales Director, Greg Allbut, said the company has undertaken significant development across the business over the past year, which includes the launch of a wide range of quality hand tools, along with additional and redeveloped power tool accessories ranges, to substantially complement the current range portfolio.

“Recent changes in the industry have also contributed to our growth trajectory, with many new and existing distributors now stocking a significant breadth of the Sterling, Alpha, Maxabrase and Austsaw product ranges, all from a single source. Our new products program has certainly assisted these range changes most favourably,” Mr Allbut said.

Sheffield Group continues to provide relevance to the independent reseller, which has been its primary focus since its inception, according to Mr Allbut.

“Our disposition is to serve the independents in the progressive development of their business and endeavour to grow their sales revenue and gross profits, year-on-year. The ability to provide independents with the opportunity to enhance their customer’s instore buying experience, combined with an even better, post-purchase experience, is the key to their success.”

“Not only does this phenomenon help distributors secure a larger portion of the target market, but also ensures optimum customer retention, reducing churn rate to an all-time minimum,” he said.

Superior performance
Established for over 40 years, Sheffield Group started its business in cutting tools, and still believes its product offers outstanding value, and measurably superior performance.

“The guesswork is taken out of the equation, thanks to our state-of-the-art testing facility, and rigorous testing procedures, allowing us to accurately define the performance capability of all candidate products and those of our competitors within all product categories.”

“We are enjoying the market’s response to our recent breakthrough developments, in terms of unique engineered product design, enabling us to come to the market with products that provide the user with a significantly improved user experience and a vastly improved time efficiency, to that provided by the traditional brands,” Mr Allbut said.

Hitachi Koki reborn

2017 has ushered an exciting, fresh start to Hitachi Koki Co. Ltd., with President and Representative Executive Officer, Osami Maehara, saying the company is committed to accelerate growth alongside a dynamic new partner as the company pursues its goal to become a global leader in power tools and life-science instruments.

“As part of this new chapter, I am proud to announce that we will change our company name to Koki Holdings in June 2018. And, with great excitement, I’m thrilled to announce that effective October 2018, our current brand which has been familiar with HITACHI will become a new brand known as HiKOKI,” Mr Maehara said.

“Our advance into this new stage of development is, for me, an occasion to reflect upon our prestigious 70-year history. During my tenure, I have grown in my conviction that our company’s success rests upon three core pillars: highly innovative technology, high reliability, and strong business growth.”

“The first of these pillars – highly innovative technology – is the foundation which inspires us in everything we create and deliver for our customers. Our industry-leading technological prowess has been cultivated over the decades thanks to the tireless day-to-day efforts of our predecessors and continues today through all of our current employees. We currently hold over 2,500-patented technologies, many of which have earned prestigious awards around the world. That’s why the ‘Hi/ in the ‘HiKOKI’ brand name refers to our highly innovative technologies,” he said.

Over the past 70 years, the company has striven to deliver products that consistently meet the needs of customers and partners at the point of purchase and over time, which has been achieved by providing globally recognised ‘Japanese-quality’ as well as earnest service, all in pursuit of customer satisfaction and convenience.

“Our new ‘HiKOKI’ brand name also embodies this commitment to high reliability. The third pillar supporting our company is strong business growth. We have gained a robust partner in KKR, one of the world’s preeminent private equity firms. Partnering with KKR has enabled us to become more aggressive than ever, not only in Japan but also in the global market,” Mr Maehara said.

“We are deepening our organizational and business diversity, as well as expanding our operations through M&A activities. This is all a fundamental driver of our ongoing drive to generate solid growth,” he said.

“As we embark on this new voyage, and emerge as a global company with its roots in Japan, I am making a heartfelt resolution. I intend to ensure that everyone who works, partners and purchases from Koki Holdings feels fortunate for having done so. I want people to have a deep sense of pride in every interaction with our company – whether as an employee, business partner or end customer. Our employees around the world will welcome change, we will embrace different cultures, and we will all adopt perspectives different from those of the past,” he said.

Koki Holdings originated in Japan and Mr Maehara said it will continue to engage the essential elements of Japan’s cultural DNA to pursue reliability, technology and growth in building a global organization, while developing the businesses, and growing into a truly global company.