‘Power Tools Plus’ re-builds Parkes store
Much has changed since the Power Tools Plus group was first established as a steel re-selling business over 30 years ago in the rural town of Forbes, New South Wales, west of Sydney.
Business: Parkes Power Tools Plus
Owner: Graham and Dorothy Haley
Location: Parkes, NSW
Buying Group: Australian Industrial Supplies Ltd (AIS)
In this time the business has grown substantially from its humble beginnings in 1983, to four sites throughout the region under the guidance of the Haley family. Current co-owner, Graham Haley, grew up working within the business alongside his family before acquiring the original Haley’s Steel and Hardware business from his parents in 2015.
Power Tools Plus General Manager, Carrie Olsen said although the business was initially branded as ‘Haley’s’, after an extensive series of expansions and acquisitions, the business has now grown to four sites throughout the local region under the Power Tools Plus brand, including Forbes, Parkes, Cowra and Mudgee, with the last two stores both acquired in 2010 within the AIS group.
Born and bred in Forbes, Carrie joined Power Tools Plus in 2017 as the group’s Sales and Marketing Manager and went on to become the group’s General Manager in 2020 to assist in the continual evolvement of the well-known business throughout the region.
“Our four stores in Forbes, Parkes, Cowra and Mudgee give us a broad footprint to service customers in the Central West Region of New South Wales, with all stores known for their tailored range of power tools, hand tools, industrial supplies, steel and rural supplies,” Carrie said.
New store build
Power Tools Plus Parkes is one particular store that has continued on the journey of growth and expansion since it was first opened in 2004, after the Forbes team identified a surging demand for industrial and engineering supplies in the neighbouring town of Parkes.
Not only was the opening of the Parkes store the first expansion from the original store at Forbes, but it was also the inception of the Power Tools Plus brand, according to Carrie.
Seventeen years on, the entire store is now undergoing a major rebuild on a new site, ensuring that it continually meets the needs of its loyal customers well into the future.
“For over 17 years, from 2004 to 2021, the Parkes store has operated at the same location and had a firm focus on sourcing and supplying the right mix of products to the local market. This includes key industries such as mining, manufacturing, agriculture, transport, construction and trades, along with civil engineering and associated services. Store Manager, Andrew Hair, is very passionate about customer service and retailing and continues to steer the business in the right direction,” Carrie said.
“Since the Parkes store opened in 2004, we have faced a range of challenges in the competitive environment, from changing businesses to new entrants coming into the market that are a combination of local independents and national banners. The town is certainly well serviced for industrial supplies, particularly power tools, equipment, safety and hand tools.”
“Parkes is also now identified as a centre of regional strategic importance both at a State and National Government level, and continues to attract investment from all levels of the government and private sector. Our core industries are well poised for continued growth, particularly as the rural market continues to recover from the most recent drought,” she said.
To further leverage the current industry growth, Power Tools Plus will also expand its Parkes operation to include steel for the first time.
“Early this year we commenced construction of a new store and steel yard, which is set to open November 2021. The new site is much larger at 14,550 square metres so there is plenty of scope for future development. The new building is over 2000 square metres and includes 780 square metres of retail floorspace and 1150 square metres of steel sheds,” Carrie said.
“Our retail store will be double the footprint of our current store, allowing us to do more with the current range in each category as well as better cater to the residential DIY market in the absence of a Bunnings or major hardware chain. A large majority of our Parkes customers are currently sourcing steel from out of town, so the opportunity for growth via steel is significant.”
“Four additional jobs will be created as part of the extensive new store including a truck driver, steel supervisor and two customer service assistants. Two of these roles are already filled, both by local residents,” she said.
With a customer percentage of around 50 per cent industrial and trade, and the other 50 per cent rural, government and residential, plenty of planning has gone into the new Parkes site to ensure its diverse range of customers are fully serviced moving forward.
“The new retail section will include approximately 200 square metres of an expansive power tools display, 100 square metres of welding displays and another 100 square metres of generators and compressors which will allow our customers plenty of room to move around the store and engage with our range.”
“On walking into the store, customers will be greeted and served at PTP’s iconic ‘u’ shaped service counter positioned perfectly at the store’s centre. Throughout the store, 262 square metres of gondola shelving will assist customers in easily locating products, aided by the store’s wider aisles and category signage,” Carrie said.
Today the store stands out from its growing line-up of competitors by focusing on four key areas of the business, with the store’s values including not only getting to know customers, but also taking an interest in their projects. When it comes to service, Carrie says it is important to make sure customers feel welcome and provide helpful product advice when required.
“Our team make sure we only supply products we believe in, while providing a variety of options to suit all our customer’s needs. When it comes to our identity, we make sure we know our products and how to help. We pride ourselves on offering a professional approach. We are problem solvers and can provide access to unusual or unique products when needed,” Carrie said.
“We are proud to be a regionally owned and operated business, employing over 40 people across the Central West. We are proud to give back to our community and will continue to invest in sponsorships and donations to a range of rural mental health, education, community building, agriculture and sporting organisations in and around Parkes, and of course across the entire region,” she said.
Like most stores throughout the industrial supplies industry, the onset of the pandemic saw Power Tools Plus continue to operate, supplying many essential industries in the region. Ironically the pandemic also coincided with the breaking of drought in the region, according to Carrie, which has again contributed to a healthy uplift in demand.
“Since early last year, the overall Power Tools Plus business, including the Parkes store, has seen some of its highest sales results in 30 years. We were very lucky to not only be able to stay open, but we also did not need to pivot to on-line sales. One of the downsides of the pandemic is that like most industries we continue to suffer supply delays and increased pricing, particularly for steel, as demand remains high,” Carrie said.
Throughout these challenging times the AIS group has remained stoic in supporting its members with supply issues by ensuring access to group buying, networking, industry knowledge and insight and catalogue compilation.
“The AIS group also allows us to share ideas with similar businesses via our membership. AIS has been a key factor in helping us develop into the business we are today, and we are grateful for the network it provides.”
Although the Parkes store has already sustained a significant share of Parkes’ industrial customers and is now busy developing the new store, Carrie said the team will remain focused on deepening the business over the coming months.
“To do this we will leverage interest in our new store and steel supply and look to capture a bigger share of the residential market. We will also continue to compliment AIS created campaigns with our own radio, press and on-line initiatives as well as deploy our full-time sales representative who will focus on business development and service to mining, construction and government clients,” Carrie said.