Jay Lewis is business development manager Americas for Chicago Pneumatic Tool Co. LLC (CP). In this role he provides strategic support for the growth and development of the Chicago Pneumatic market in the Americas. A 25-year tool and compressor industry veteran, Lewis joined Chicago Pneumatic in 2002. Prior to joining the company he held multiple sales and management positions in the tool and compressor industry. Lewis holds a BGS degree in marketing from the University of Iowa. Here, Lewis talks about CP’s annual School of the Year competition, and gives his thoughts on the future of the tool segment, as well as the role of Internet and social media in today’s distribution model.
Chicago Pneumatic and AMN sister publication Tomorrow’s Technician recently announced the call for nominations for the third annual School of the Year competition. Tell us about the competition and why this is an important project for CP to be a part of.
Chicago Pneumatic and Tomorrow’s Technician worked together to create this program in 2007 as a way to acknowledge and reward all of the great work done by schools, teachers and students across the country.
There are thousands of schools in this country training technicians in light and heavy duty engine and chassis repair, body work and similar fields. Today’s students will be the future leaders of this industry and we believe it’s important to support their education.
During the past two years we’ve had more than 300 schools participate in the School of the Year competition. That number is great, but we believe it’s just scratching the surface. We’d like to encourage all schools, small and large, to participate in this competition and earn chance to win part of $25,000 in tool prizes, national recognition and the honor of listing your institution among the best in the country.
Is there anything new and different about this year’s competition?
2009/2010 marks the third consecutive Chicago Pneumatic/Tomorrow’s Technician School of the Year competition. We’ve worked very closely with Tomorrow’s Technician to make this program bigger and better every year. This year, Tomorrow’s Technician has created a new Web site, www.ttschooloftheyear.com, for students and administrators to visit, enter the competition and find news on the 2010 School of the Year competition. Previous winner profiles, competition details, entry forms, prize package information and more can be found on the new site.
Also new this year is the addition of a supporting sponsor WIX Filters. WIX is a natural fit in the program, with their great commitment to technician education. WIX also brings us an even broader reach and enhanced prize packages for the winning schools.
With WIX’s partnership, we’re able to bring select students from winning schools to Charlotte, N.C., for an educational and entertaining trip that will include tool tutorials, a trip to the WIX Institute of Filtration Technology and a behind-the-scenes tour at Joe Gibbs Racing. Winning schools will also share in $10,000 worth of filters as part of the enhanced prize package this year.
In addition to the School of the Year competition, CP is a very active supporter of technical education. Tell us about some of the ways CP stays involved.
Chicago Pneumatic has been a long time supporter of technical education. For example, we are an annual supporter of TMC SuperTech and the Student AutoSkills competitions. We also have a program in place to donate tools to schools. Earlier this year, we donated more than $20,000 in cordless tools to schools across the country. This program provides a significant impact for the schools involved and we hope to expand the program’s reach in the coming year.
What are your thoughts on the future of the tool segment?
The biggest change we’re seeing in the tool segment is the higher levels of engineering and design that are going into professional grade tools. At Chicago Pneumatic we engineer every one of our tools to the highest standards of ergonomics, efficiency and quality. We also design our tools and compressors to be environmentally friendly through decreased energy consumption, extended product life and lower operating noise levels.
We’ve seen from first-hand experience, companies that launch new, innovative products are enjoying increased success in the market.
How has the Internet changed the distribution model?
The mobile jobber/tool truck continues to have the most influence in the technician’s buying decisions, since they offer a unique bundle of services, including on site demo/information and delivery, credit, warranty/replacement and a personal relationship.
However, we’re also seeing an increase in technicians purchasing tools online, where they can shop and compare many different brands and search for the best deal. This trend will likely continue as more and more young technicians enter the marketplace.
What, if any, role does social media play in your marketing efforts?
Chicago Pneumatic has taken an aggressive approach towards reaching out to the young technician demographic. In addition to our support of technical training schools, we’re also making great efforts to open lines of communication with young technicians where they spend their free time online. Chicago Pneumatic has an active page on Facebook, www.facebook.com/chicagopneumatic, and a Twitter account, www.twitter.com/cp_tools that we use to announce products and promotions and gain feedback from our customers.
We are also engaging aspects of social media in a new tool launch this year. Our newest ½ inch impact wrench, the CP7749, is lighter, better balanced and more powerful than most competing tools in its category. The CP7749 also features a revolutionary design in regards to its forward/reverse switch a side-to-side forward/reverse switch located directly above the trigger that is simple to operate with one hand.
To promote the launch of this new tool, we’ve been communicating a message that work doesn’t have to be hard labor. If you want to get the job done fast and as easily as possible, then you need to trade in your old impact and upgrade to a CP7749. One of the tactics has been communicating this message creatively online through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and a microsite we created for the campaign www.cprevolution.com.
Chicago Pneumatic has long held the belief in consistent communication with customers. For two years now we have produced a fun and informative monthly online newsletter, Cranked Up Conversation, to provide another avenue of communication. It’s free to receive and read at www.cp.com/cranked.
The annual AAPEX show in Las Vegas is coming up in just two weeks. Will CP be in attendance and if so, what are your plans?
Chicago Pneumatic has decided to take our show across town to SEMA this year. It’s all part of our continued efforts to build our brand in the younger technician market.
During SEMA, we will run contests and giveaway prizes all week at our booth (#12851 in the Tools & Equipment section in the North Hall), including 10 CP7749s and an RCP Series air compressor. Custom car builder Rich Evans, owner of Huntington Beach Bodyworks, will be in our booth all week signing autographs and taking pictures with customers. We’re going to post photos and updates from the show on Facebook all week so if you can’t make it to Vegas you can follow the action online.
We’ll also have Rich Evans’ H20 Knight, a custom-designed Ford Mustang, painted with water-borne paint, in our booth. The H20 Knight will be featured in the upcoming film Kill Speed, scheduled to open in theatres in 2010.
We hope to see all of your readers at the show!