Ohio Power Tool Renovation Project

When our small tool business (Central Ohio Power Tool, at the time) opened its doors in 1983, it was a very modest operation, serving the repair needs of local automotive shops and construction companies. We have been extremely fortunate over the past 30 years to have attracted some very knowledgeable, talented and hard working folks who have built the company into not only one of the largest local suppliers, but also a company able to serve the needs of customers on a national level. As the company has grown, so has our need for additional warehouse space and staff. At the beginning of this year we finally found a larger space suitable for our growing business, which will hopefully accommodate us for many years to come. So while others grilled, fished and went swimming, my staff and I have largely spent our summer “vacation” readying for the big transition and Ohio Power Tool renovation.

Yes, we’re talking about everyone’s favorite past time: Moving.

The new building for the Ohio Power Tool renovation was already in fairly good shape. It’s made up of a two-story office building in front, with a large warehouse attached to the back. It was previously occupied by a company who sold medical devices, and before that, by a large cabinet supplier. The biggest challenge was creating a top of the line retail space for selling tools and construction supplies out of an outdated office space with drop ceilings and lots of tiny rooms.

For the new showroom space we stripped out pretty much everything, including lights, walls, ceiling, HVAC and flooring. That left nothing except a lot of wires going in every direction. With a clean slate, we wanted to get the ceiling as high as possible, so we left it exposed and hit everything with a nice “battleship” gray paint job. It turned out very nice, and it really highlighted the 28” steel I-beam that runs the length of the building. Next came high output lighting and fresh flooring to really make the place look clean and well-organized. Hopefully that will continue to be the case when everything finally finds its way onto the correct shelves.

We made the decision to build our new sales counter ourselves and use it as training exercise for everyone on our staff. The design is a basic frame around which we wrapped some very nice recycled slat wall left by the previous tenants. Our highest-ranking resident woodworker did an excellent job mitering up the slat wall to fit perfectly—a feat which was actually quite impressive. We really went overboard on the countertop with a metal frame made of 3.5” angle welded together. Then we mixed, poured and finished all of the concrete ourselves. All in all, it was a fairly decent job and a great learning experience for all involved.


To provide a retail space that was easy to shop and to make the experience interactive, we really worked heavily with our vendor partners. We not only wanted to put out products customers could touch and feel, but we also wanted to be able to educate them when possible. Bosch went so far as to install touch screens to help customers pick the right accessories for their tools. With significantly more showroom space, we intentionally left a lot of open area which will soon be filled with some of our larger construction equipments such as Diamond Products’ walk-behind concrete saws, Chicago Pneumatic plate compactors and even shop equipment like Jet drill presses and Powermatic table saws. Everyone likes to touch before they buy, but it’s also very helpful for our customer service team. When assisting people over the phone, they can send pictures of real products or take measurements you won’t find in any catalog.


Of course, with additional warehouse space comes the ability to stock a lot more products. This leads to the obvious discussion of what our customers want us to stock. We knew we would be adding even more of our current lines and everyday consumable items. For new products and expansion, however, there were several choices. We could choose to add additional big name brands that sell very similar products. That meant consumers could have five, six, as many as eight or more options when selecting common-sized grinders or cordless drills. Lots of retailers offer this.

The other way to go, and this is the path we chose, was to strengthen our relationships with existing brands and add new, more specialized, tool manufacturers to the mix. This allows us to provide a selection of unique products, ideal for solving unique problems our customers face. We pride ourselves on being able to help people find solutions to their toughest situations. Many of the new lines we will be adding are certainly going to help build our arsenal to accomplish this goal, and while they won’t all be household names, they will be companies chock full of experts in their crafts (and probably include a lot of new products made in the US or Europe). This will require a high level of continued training and hands-on time for our staff (often open to public as well), but that is all part of how we hope to continue our growth.


The overall goal for our company is to remain a resource for valuable information, both locally face-to-face and nationally, over the phone or online. We’ll strive for this kind of accessibility while always maintaining the competitive pricing the Internet demands, and frankly, all customers deserve. In this day and age, you shouldn’t have to be a huge multi-national conglomerate or have to scour the depths of the Internet just to find really good pricing. Our goal is not to be the biggest tool supplier or even to carry the most lines.

Like you, we just want to be the best at what we do.


For Ohio Power Tool, I suppose that means finishing out the summer by continuing to hire the most knowledgeable and dedicated team members we can—people who love power tools. And hopefully, we can fill the new warehouse with all of the coolest “tool toys” imaginable. When it’s all said and done, we really like what we do, and we love to have fun and help people out. I suppose that’s not a bad way to spend the summer.

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