The last weekend in June marked the opening of the 2017 Tool Dealer Expo hosted by ISN, the Integrated Supply Network, and was held at the Gaylord Palms hotel and convention center in Orlando, Fla.
ISN was founded in 1984 and is the nation's largest independent automotive tool and equipment specialist serving wholesalers and distributors throughout North America and the United Kingdom. They invited members of the media to attend a pre-event tour, showcasing some of the newest products to market and highlighting additions to their own brand of offerings.
New to this year’s show was an outdoors section, featuring products more suited to the hunting and fishing enthusiast than the professional technician. At least, that’s what you would think at first glance. But having been on more than one tool truck over the last 40 years, it immediately becomes apparent that offering these products to the men and women of our industry is just one more way the tool vendors serving them can even out their incomes by catering to their customers’ avocations as well as their vocation.
One item I saw that grabbed my attention was from the folks at GearWrench. They offer mechanic kits that would make a nice addition to any garage – DIY or pro. They also debuted a uniquely designed swivel adaptor that promises to take a lot more abuse before breaking than more conventional designs.
And I couldn’t help but drool a bit as I walked past Ingersoll Rand’s display featuring the newest additions to their electric power tool line. I almost got the same feeling as I came around the turn and saw the Ford display. That’s right, Ford! As it turned out, the tools on display were nothing overly special and only licensed to carry the Ford name - not made by Ford.Across the way from the Ford booth as the K-Tool booth, and I watched as a rep demonstrated their new “universal” funnel. It is designed to stay put in the engine fill hole or coolant fill hole, freeing your hands to focus on pouring the liquid in rather than do the one-handed juggling act we’re used to. They are also offering improved floor jacks, with lower weight and lower jack plates to accommodate those vehicles that are barely off the ground.
The Tool Dealer Expo is not a beat I’m used to covering, and I wish I had had more time to look around. With a reported addition of 40 new vendors this year and the growth of ISN, I’m sure the 2018 show will be even better. But even if I don’t make it to the next one, I’m betting your tool guy will – and you’ll see it by the new stuff he has on the truck.