At IRWIN Tools, there's a focus on the future -- both in tool technology, and in support for young people who show an interest in the skilled trades.
“Encouraging more people to explore an interest in the trades is an important part of preventing an extreme shortage of skilled tradesmen a generation from now,” said Rich Mathews, senior vice president of marketing for IRWIN Tools. He also cites a talent shortage survey from Manpower which reports that, for the fourth consecutive year, skilled trades are the most difficult jobs to fill in the United States.
Where does IRWIN fit in to all this? Well, for one thing, they are the founders of National Tradesmen Day, a day that gives Americans the opportunity to consider the contributions skilled craftsmen make to their lives, and to say "thanks." This year's third annual occurrence of the event will occur on Friday, September 20. IRWIN will be conducting appreciation events at hundreds of jobsites nationwide, including Chicago; Charlotte, North Carolina -- and New York City, where IRWIN employees will greet and thank the tradesmen who built the Freedom Tower.
In addition to recognizing those currently working in the trades, IRWIN wants such events to encourage young people to pursue such opportunities as career options.Currently, says Matthews, there is a cultural stigma against manual labor that leads young people to devalue it, and to dismiss a career in the trades from their consideration.
He continued, “It’s time that we once again present the trades as a respectable career option for the next generation. We need to once again treat people who lace up boots each morning before heading to the jobsite with as much respect as those who tie polished wingtips and head to a high-rise office.”
IRWIN also provides encouragement to young people who have shown an interest in the trades through its support of SkillsUSA, a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. This year, during the SkillsUSA 2013 state competitions, each high school and college student in the building trades categories -- carpentry, cabinetmaking, electrical construction wiring, plumbing and sheet metal -- received an IRWIN Tools Impact Performance Series™ tool set. That totalled over 4,000 tool sets donated to young people competing with these skills.
“SkillsUSA state competitions provide the largest showcase of career and technical education in our country, and IRWIN Tools is proud to support these talented and ambitious students," said Mathews.
Of course, IRWIN is also committed to providing quality tools to those professionals and hobbyists who are already out there using them in the trenches -- both figuratively and literally. One of their latest introductions is the Impact Performance Series™, a line of screwdriving bits, nutsetters, socket adapters and bit holders engineered specifically for use in impact tools.
“While cordless impact drivers have been in the market for quite a while, they’ve gotten a lot better in recent years, and are now relevant for many more types of applications," said IRWIN director of marketing Jon Schlosser. Among those applications might be building a deck, installing tile backer board, screwing down plywood subfloors -- or anything else that requires driving a ton of screws.
The Impact Performance Series screwdriver bits are manufactured with heavy-duty, cold-forged, high-grade steel that withstands extremely high torque output, and have a black oxide finish that resists corrosion and substantially increases the life of the bit. They're also forged rather than milled, so they fit fasteners more precisely, which reduces stripping and increases the life of the bit itself. The bits are available in Phillips, square recess, Torx and tamper-resistant Torx configurations.
Also included in the Impact Performance Series are nutsetters designed to drive a fastener from the side, rather than forcing the corners to turn, thus maintaining the shape of the fastener and dramatically reducing breakage and damage from stripping. The Impact Performance Series insert bit holders have a C-ring design with an external clip that fits into the retaining ring notch of the insert bit, as well as a rare earth magnet four times stronger than standard magnets -- both of which securely hold bits in place. The socket adapters in the Impact Performance Series line have a body forged for additional strength, and a ball-lock retention design for quick-change applications.
The entire line of Impact Performance Series screwdriving bits, nutsetters, socket adapters, and bit holders has a 1/4" quick-change shank designed to work with all types of impact drivers and rotary drills. The suggested retail price for screwdriving bits ranges from $0.99 to $5.99, nutsetters from $3.49 to $9.99, socket adapters from $3.49 to $5.99, and bit holders from $3.99 to $6.99. Multiple set configurations are available, with prices ranging from $9.99 to $39.99.
And there's more to come.
"This first phase of our launch is really only the beginning," said Schlosser. "As we anticipate continued enhancements to the performance of impact drivers themselves, such as new motor or battery technologies, we’re focused on building our Impact Performance Series line to include all types of accessories for impact drivers.”
And, they're focused on making sure there's a continual supply of young people with the interest, and the ability, to use those tools.