Why I Quit Buying Tools for Techs

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Graham would throw a temper tantrum and call me an evil capitalist pig  
for this, but I quit buying tools for techs because they had no respect  
for the amount of hard work I had to do to buy them.

Early on I bought Leatherman tools for all my guys.  Mostly just to be  
nice, but I also found they were really handy for a quick tweak rather  
than running back to the truck, but many of the guys tried to work with  
only that one tool all day long.  The classic was the day I found a guy  
putting in drive rings with one.  No.  Not the screw in rings.  The  
hammer in rings.  I was chatting with a job super and I heard, "tap,  
tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap,  
tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap,  
tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, ... pause ... tap,  
tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap,  
tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap,  
tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap."  After a bit of that  
I held up my hand to quiet the super and went to go look.  He had a  
hammer in the truck.  He was on the tenth ring out of about 40 along a  
wire path.

One day a fellow (a decent tech actually) was using an actual hammer,  
and it was giving him fits.  I took the hammer to find that it was  
ground crooked on the face, and the head was twisted on the handle.  It  
was made that way.  I pulled a nice Estwing out of my toolbag and said,  
"Here I'll trade you."  When he took my hammer I gave his a chuck as far  
as I could throw it down the alley.  A few days later on another job I  
found him struggling to mount some nail on boxes.  He had gone down the  
alley and retrieved his piece of shit.  The Estwing was back in the  
service truck.  I had to tell him if I saw that hammer on my jobsite or  
in my service truck again he was fired.

I had a few guys early on (first year or two) whom I trained from  
nothing.  They were always hanging out across the street working on cars  
and hanging out with a car guy who lived there.  I bought them tools and  
told them I would provide them what they needed, but if they lost or  
broke a tool it was their responsibility to replace it.  I bought good  
tools.  Estwing, Klein, Channel lock, Proto, etc.  One day I walked up  
on a guy struggling with a pair of pliers.  They turned out to be a pair  
of "lineman's" pliers.  I didn't recognize them at first because they  
were half the size of the Kleins I had bought, and they had green  
handles.  Then I looked in his tool pouch.  Nearly every tool was a  
cheap import that you might find in the hardware section of your local  
grocery store.    Not even as good as Harbor Freight tools.  (We didn't  
have a local Harbor Freight store back then.)  Its kid of amazing how  
the car guy across the street also happened to upgrade a lot of his  
tools to the same quality tools I was using about that time.

The classic was the guy who left a whole tool box full of tools on a job  
site and was flabbergasted that I expected him to go back and get it.

There were some honorable mentions.

A salesman who took some folding tables out of my office so he could  
setup at the flea market to sell for me.  (I was paying the space fee)  
When I stopped by to check out how he was doing the tables and ground  
were full of misc household garbage he was selling.  I asked a couple of  
nearby vendors, and it turns out he had that space for months before he  
went to work for me and he always had a bunch of garage sale finds laid  
out for sale, but it was only recently that he had started using tables  
for his better stuff.  It took me months and threat of a lawsuit to get  
my tables back after I fired him.  He seemed genuinely upset that I  
expected to get my tables back because he needed them for the swap meet.

Of course we have all had the guy who doesn't understand why we held  
back for replacement cost on equipment they signed for from their final  
paycheck.  Something they agreed to.  Of course some of that equipment  
suddenly isn't so lost when they find out they really have to pay for  
it.  One guy kept calling me over and over when I was in church, and was  
waiting at my door when I got home with a bunch of equipment he thought  
he was going to get to keep.  I thanked him for returning my property  
and informed him that he could stop by the office at noon on Monday for  
the balance of his final paycheck.  When he objected I told him he was  
trespassing and needed to leave. (I have more than a couple stories  
about that guy, and he was my very last direct employee)

I wish I still had all the tools those guys lost, stole, and destroyed.  
I could have a yard sale and retire all over again on the proceeds.  
Even at yard sale prices.


Re: Why I Quit Buying Tools for Techs
On Saturday, August 15, 2020 at 10:35:54 AM UTC-5, Bob La Londe wrote:
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Boy you'd really love me Bob :)

Re: Why I Quit Buying Tools for Techs
On Saturday, August 15, 2020 at 11:35:54 AM UTC-4, Bob La Londe wrote:
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I never had that much of a problem with workers and tools. The rule was * I
f you lose a tool your replace it with the sarme make or better tool.* If I
 saw a cheap tool on the job, at the first chance I would take it and throw
 it away. I'd try to take it so they didn't see me so they'd think they los
t it again. When they'd ask if I'd seen their screw driver, I'd say OH that
 cheap replacement you bought to replace the good one I gave you? No but wh
en you replace this one buy the Kline like I gave you, or you may just lose
 it again. As you can imagine I've never had that many people work for me o
r stay with me that long.  
The one thing about me and tools is that I get attached to them. One thing  
that really annoys me is, I'll use a tool that isn't part of my tool pouch  
 but is a tool I keep in the van and don't use very often. So I'll leave it
 someplace and 2 months later I'll need that tool again, and it's not in th
e van and I don't remember when and where I used it last. I get "OUTRAGED"  
at my self for being so f%&$ing stupid. For the next month or so I'll go ba
ck over my list of jobs and service calls trying to remember where I used t
hat tool. I've occasionally called a customer and asked them if they've fou
nd the tool or if they would mind if I take a look around their house and I
'll travel 30 / 40 miles back to a job. I have a small 3 foot step ladder t
hat I carry in the van. Right now it's sitting at someones house in their g
arage. I was working at their house (NO one was home) and the guy came home
 and fell asleep on the couch while I was working. I was trying to be quiet
 and I needed the ladder to get to the alarm panel that someone else had mo
unted on the back wall of a closet and the customer had added shelves from  
ceiling to floor making the panel very hard to reach. When I finished up re
placing the three keypads he'd torn off the wall in the middle of the night
 because he didn't know he could press the reset button, - - - Every thing  
was working and the system tested to central station and I was trying to be
 quite so I wouldn't wake him up - - - I just closed my tool box and quietl
y left the house. The next day I went out to the van to get my ladder and D
AMN !!!!! I left it at the open closet door and even forgot to close up the
 panel. Well I texted the customer the next day, apologized for not closing
 up the panel and that I left quietly as to not wake him and would he pleas
e put my ladder in his garage until the next time I come to his house. I ma
rked a big note on the front of his file to remind me and went out and boug
ht another ladder.

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