Trend first appeared in the U.S. just a year ago at the Association of Woodowrking and Furniture Suppliers show, with a mix of unique products aimed at the USA routing market. Some woodworkers will be surprised that the company is almost 50 years old and offers a wide collection of routers, tables, bits, jigs, accessories, and even CNC Machining Centers in their European product line. As the new kid in the U.S. market, the company limited its line to products with exclusive capabilities or favorable price points.
Trend Routing Technology was established following demand from routing users in the US for unique routing products. The initial launch comprised of their Airshield, air-circulating face shield, a mortise and tenon jig, a range of double-sided continuous diamond stones and a small lightweight router.
As Trend marketing manager Malcolm Stamper described, “The Airshield is a full-face shield that slips around the face. If you wear glasses, as I do, or have a beard, it molds exactly right to your face. And unlike some shields that fog up, a smooth, lightweight fan supplies a cooling flow of air gently across your face.”
A rechargeable NiCad battery powers the fan. The visor flips up like a welder mask when you don’t need it, and the visor overlay can be replaced if it gets scratched without replacing the entire Airshield. It’s strictly designed for woodworking, Malcolm noted, and does not provide protection from fumes when spraying finishes.
The company’s other flagship product, its mortise and tenon jig, allows plunge routers to cut mortise, tenons and dowel joints. It can also produce compound angles joints up to 45 degrees. It’s the market leader in the UK and Europe, but as in its own market faces a well-established competitor in the American market. Trend’s $300 price, however, provides considerable advantages to purchasers, Malcolm noted, compared to the other company’s comparable jig for over $800.
Trend also offers its lightweight 3/4 H.P. T-3 router in the U.S.A. It is designed as a lightweight router for home use and has a detachable base for carving, but Malcolm indicated it could be used on their mortise and tenon jig & provided the operator was gentle with it and didn’t use the full plunge format.
Adapting the router for U.S. voltage requirements provided no impediment for the company. As Malcolm explained, “We have adapted products for the European market and they work on different voltage systems than we have in the U.K. We are very accustomed to facing this issue. It was pretty straightforward, and we got UL approval.”
Malcolm noted, “We brought over unique products that really stood out from the crowd.”
Moving into the American market has provided the company with a number of surprises. A massive advertising campaign has not been implemented, but word-of-mouth and exposure at woodworking shows have helped spread the word.
“There’s always a large number of people at the shows who are already familiar with our products and company.” Malcolm explained, “We attribute some of this to our coverage in the U.K. woodworking magazines and attendance at woodworking shows, but a lot of awareness is generated by discussions among online forum communities.”
Another surprise was the amount of time it took magazines to pick up their press releases. Malcolm explained, “In the U.K. it may only take two months to get into the magazines, but in the U.S., even a quick review can take up to a year.”
Customers can buy online from Trend, but a nationwide network of retailers handles the bulk of orders. Distribution in the U.S. is handled out of a warehouse in North Carolina, and Trend has a customer service team in Kentucky. Some manufacturing is also shifting to the U.S. Until recently, the AirShield was only made in Scotland, due the volume of sales in the USA the exact same product is now also being made in North Carolina.
The company is launching more products in August at IWF and intends to introduce more products in January 2005, but they don’t intend to bring their entire product line over. Malcolm noted, “Over the next decade, long-term growth in the U.S. will be one of the driving forces in the company”.