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Jon Olson – Malco Products, Metal Tools and METALCON - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

Jon Olson – Malco Products, Metal Tools and METALCON - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION - 2
October 26, 2023 at 5:27 p.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with John Olson from Malco Products. You can read the interview below, listen to the podcast or watch the video.

Karen Edwards: Hello and welcome, my name is Karen Edwards and we are here to talk with Malco Tools to learn about their history, the importance of having the right metal tools, and what exciting things they're going to be doing at METALCON this year. John Olson from Malco Tools is here. Welcome John. We are so glad to have you with us today. Can you go ahead and introduce yourself to our listeners?

John Olson: Yeah, welcome Karen and thank you for the opportunity. I tried to cheers my cup there as it is a coffee shop. And I wanted to just say thank you for the introduction. We at Malco are excited for METALCON and what's coming up, and we're excited to continue engaging with sheet metal workers regardless of whether they're HVAC or roofing sign and gutter specific.

To introduce myself, I'm part of the marketing team at Malco and I'll be leading demonstrations and things of that nature at the METALCON show. And really we're excited to be here and get to talk on this podcast.

Karen Edwards: Let's start by sharing a little bit of the history of Malco Tools. You guys are employee owned, can you tell me a little bit more about that?

John Olson: I'd love to. What is really neat about Malco is in 1950 the Keymer family established some innovative tools through talking with people in the field as they were selling effectively sheet metal. They identified a need for innovation.

And so getting back to that innovation focus, our core values still today leverage that engineering solutions and teamwork. And the teamwork is evident when you look at the core values that the Keymers instilled in the company and to this day have transitioned over to these employee owners, because Mark Keymer effectively worked through elevating the company and growing the company through innovating tools and solutions for the sheet metal worker.

And as his boys were coming up in their own careers within the company, the company noticed that the Keymers wanted to see the company grow well beyond where the Keymers were engaging and wanting to take it, and wanted the transition to occur to the employees. As it's important when we are looking at the vision for a company and it's runway, if you will, to be insightful of the fact that we need engaged associates and employees to be working within our company.

And what the Keymers did was strategically transition, while giving a modest break on effective cost, to the employees in the ESOP program. And to this day we're now 100% employee owned as that transition has taken place through Mark and the various Keymer brothers and father obviously, and we now as an employee owned company, we truly are as employees of Malco, the owners.

And what is neat is we all bring that engagement regardless of our role into what we do on our daily, and we really see a value in making sure that the many trade professionals that we serve not only receive a value, but have someone that they can be confident leaning on for engineered solutions for the value they try to provide their customers.

Karen Edwards: I think it's really important to note, and I'll ask you about this, you mentioned about the founders passing their core values onto the current employee owners, and Malco Tools is a place that talks the talk, but walks the walk too. You guys have a high value on giving back, engaging with the contractor community, with educators, with up and coming trade professionals. I know you guys, you were at Skills USA in June. Talk to me a little bit about that giving back and community involvement.

John Olson: Yeah, we're very lucky as a community, or an engaged member of the community I should say, to get the opportunity with walking the walk as you noted, regarding giving back to the community through events like Skills USA. We also engage in the Head of the Class program which facilitates instructors recognizing students within the classroom with some tools that will help them hopefully as they grow in their field.

We also do things such as participation in a Habitat for Humanity build on occasion, as well as providing a counter person of the year at the level of our distributors. Because when a company sells through distribution, we also need to make sure that we are providing incentive for those people at the distributor to be engaged and get recognition. We're working really to talk the talk, walk the walk and be a part of this overall community.

Karen Edwards: That's fantastic. And now tell me a little more about your line of metal and specialty tools.

John Olson: Yeah. So we've got a full offering. It really is an end-to-end solution. And part of that offering is our turbo shears. And we're celebrating this year, 20 years of turbo shears. We effectively have taken some observations within the field of people don't necessarily want to be running their hand snip the length of a roof. In some situations it's really not safe and it's really not ergonomic for somebody to, every day be doing a task that's ultimately going to make it harder for them to do their career well into their older years. And so we took some innovation around the snips that we do and we applied it there.

Then the nice part is we really continue to recognize and revolutionize some of the fastening with our C-RHEX products. And so within the HVAC, the roofing, siding and gutter side of things, we really have focused on ensuring that our C-RHEX products, which are a cleanable, reversible Hex driver and C-RHEX, we really then can provide people a way to work within their work zone without having to deal with the frustrations on the daily of metal shavings, making screws runoff, axes or other problems. The other nice thing with that line is because the two sizes are all there and present, we can quickly reverse them.

We also have some innovative tools out specifically for cutting and prepping material. Our Andy's MC12L Snip is a leading tool within its segment. And really the nice part about that is because it's an offset design but has the length and packaging of a pattern snip, it really can progress through material faster than any of its competitors.

When we look at that tool and how it's been recognized by the industry, by winning the Pro Tools Innovation Award this year with that tool as well as the dealer design award, really we're seeing that the industry is recognizing is a truly innovative and best-in-class solution for the Trade Pro.

Karen Edwards: That's fantastic. Congratulations. Because to be recognized by the industries that are using your tools saying this is one of the best and most innovative tools I've ever had, that's a huge recognition.

John Olson: Thank you. And we thank the industry for that. We truly strive to take the feedback and awareness of what we see and hear from the industry and incorporate it into our tool designs and solutions.

Karen Edwards: Listen, that's really important.

John Olson: We must listen to learn. So we also listened regarding... Metal, the core is obviously metal, but it's not all that we do. And so one of the tools that we also received a Pro Tool Innovation Award on this year was our adjustable siding gauge, which if someone needs... It's very common on a metal building to also do accent walls with lap siding, and when we're doing the installation of lap siding, sometimes we need a second hand. However, this tool actually allows you to work with any commercially available lap siding and have the support of a second hand through a quick innovative CAM action that holds not only the material you need but preps it in position so that you can then nail it and move on to other tasks.

To round out our line, we have an extensive line of specialty tools. When we talk about our specialty tools, they're within our red line of tools. They have a very distinctive red and black handle. And what you'll see with that is when we talk about nail slots, J-channel, things that are very commonplace in the details within the cladding space, these tools are truly there to seam, punch, and detail aspects of your finished solution. We really work to innovate those and make sure that we listen to the customers, as you noted, because we know that the people in the field doing the job every day are the best people to listen to for us.

Karen Edwards: Absolutely. So if we were to move into the RSG, the roofing, siding, gutters, you mentioned the adjustable siding gauge, which that just launched in the last year, right?

John Olson: Yeah, it did. And so that's a really exciting tool. We for years, had a fiber cement clip system that allowed for specifically fiber cement in a 5/16th width to be installed. However, we just observed that we needed more solutions. And sometimes when we see that, we want to make sure we place products in a way that we can all benefit in having a simpler solution.

That's an exciting product for us to have all in the market to meet the customer where they are at, in that a lot of these customers are looking to quote more materials, they're looking to quote more types of finishes, and really what we've been trying to do in that RSG segment is meet them with that and provide them a way to confidently go in and quote knowing that they have the tools for the job from Malco.

Karen Edwards: Yeah, the right tools matter so much. So you mentioned 20 years of turbo shears, which I love that that kind of rhymes, but tell me a little bit about the specializations for that.

John Olson: Yeah, that's an excellent question. So it all started with our TS-1, which is a simple attachment that the end user would hold one red handle and hold their drill. And it inserts into a driller driver, and really that was the inception of it all was semi-automating the process of cycling the snip.

Well, from there we worked into heavier duty versions and specialized solutions, so our TSCM and our TSMD today are some of the focus items for that roofer to be able to make long continuous cuts or cross-cuts over a panel. The TSMD is a double cut, so it actually cuts two clean cuts on either side of the drop. The drop actually rolls up out of the center. Whereas the TSCM, the approach angle, so the angle which your hand approaches the material and ultimately cuts it is high enough so it can go over the peaks and valleys. So we basically allow that quick and easy motion by positioning the tool in the proper place.

Karen Edwards: Wow, okay. And now let's talk about metal benders.

John Olson: Awesome.

Karen Edwards: Yeah, this has been some exciting stuff. I know we've been sharing a lot of information. So tell me a little bit about your line of metal benders.

John Olson: So metal benders by Malco is really our focus this year in launching a full scale line that can support that metal roofer. And so what we are doing with our various launches within this, people who are in the know and were at IRE or some of the other events such as Florida, would've seen not only our initial launch, which was our one station tools, which are also modular to facilitate use as a two station, but these tools which are designed to provide end users infinite length bends onsite without having to go back to a wholesaler, the shop. We really are striving to provide them a professional solution that again meets them where they're at.

The whole line, which will be launched at METALCON, which is really exciting, provides the ability to adjust the spacing between the rollers that actually apply the pressure to the metal directly. So what we're talking are one station and two station benders, which are variable depending on the model size, anywhere from a five millimeter, that quarter inch, 5/16th range up to the 14 and 3/8th range. And so when you have such a vast selection, the nice part is we really put it in the hands of the contractor to recognize what is best for them, and work to make sure that they have the right tools for the job.

When we're talking about standing seam, which is a very much so growing material selection within the metal roofing space right now is people elevate with the introduction of solar and other things, the need for long-standing, long-life substrates, we not only have the tools to bend and profile that with our one and two station tools, but we also have the capability with our discs that we'll be launching to really create any of the details where an open ham or other items or details that would prep for a watertight connection would be needed to be able to complete that job without having to come back the next day.

We also have a power-assisted seamer and a power-assisted cutter for those who have been at those other shows. You may have seen it, you may have not. However, we invite everybody to meet us at METALCON. Within the booth, we'll be demonstrating at 20-minute intervals these various components of this end-to-end solution that we've been working on.

The power-assisted seamer and cutter are really neat because in the industry there've been a few things transitionally that have really caused people to look at what can I do to expand my own business to be able to do this. And so at booth 1000 at METALCON we're going to be showcasing these demos, and we'd actually like to showcase for those contractors who are interested in growing their business by growing their selection of tools on hand, what they need to learn within those demos.

So we'll be showcasing how to bend with a bender, we'll be showcasing how to bend with a disc. We'll ultimately show them how to connect a drill or driver that may already be present in their tool bag to a turbo shear or a seamer or cutter to be able to not only cut the material, but mechanically seam it and finish off that job.

Karen Edwards: Well, I think just for those listening METALCON this year is October 18th through 20th at the Las Vegas Convention Center. So book your flights, get your rooms, and stop by booth 1000. Because I think it's really important. Learning how to use a new tool can sometimes be a little intimidating, right? And if a contractor does want to add metal to their business but isn't sure what tools they need or even how to use them, booth 1000 is going to be the place for them to see it and to learn about it.

John Olson: We're going to staff our booth deliberately with engineers that have helped develop the products. We're going to have marketing personnel who's been out in the field actually talking with these individuals, learning from them what they need. And then we're going to be providing those demonstrations and the opportunity for contractors who we maybe haven't talked to, to ask us questions about how we can help them do better and use tools and select tools that are better for what they need to add value to their customers.

Karen Edwards: So it goes both ways. Newbies can learn and see, but then you're getting feedback too from more seasoned professionals that maybe say, "Hey, you know what? I really like this tool, but if only it would do this." And that's where we get this innovation, right?

John Olson: And we love getting to have that conversation. We, on the regular, are taking in and breathing in that feedback and relaying it within the company to ensure people are informed on what the industry is saying and how can we do better as we strive to be that go-to solution for the metal, roofing and siding industry as well as the HVAC industry.

Karen Edwards: Now you are doing some promotions, some fun stuff in your booth at METALCON booth 1000 where you're giving away, you're giving away some tools. Tell me about that. What does somebody have to do?

John Olson: Yeah, we are, and it's really exciting. We're going to have a selfie contest with our #damngoodtools tagline. And what we're going to be doing is there's two ways to enter. One of them is to participate in that #damngoodtools, a selfie contest. The other is to actually just come on in, have your conversation with us, have your badge scan, and there's actually two separate drawings there.

Each of those drawings are going to have the same price selection. What we're going to be offering is over $900 in tools. That selection is going to include a two station bender, a bag for that bender, and a variety of other tools that really we encourage you to come on into the booth and see and feel our tools, and sit down and come to the table to talk with us, very much so like we're doing right now.

Karen Edwards: Yeah, yeah. It's one thing to talk about it, but it's another thing to actually see it, touch it, watch it work. So definitely go by, have your badge scanned and you could walk away with a nice prize package.

John Olson: We welcome the opportunity to not only meet you, but also teach you and listen to you in the event you're either on the incoming side or the professional side as Karen so eloquently pointed out.

Karen Edwards: So if you cannot make it to METALCON and you are excited and you want to get started using Malco Tools, tell me how a contractor can get their hands on these tools.

John Olson: So whether you visit us at booth 1000 and have one of our skilled professionals coach you through how to get to our website to ultimately connect with a brick and mortar that's in your area and who you trust to provide you the tools, on our website, when you navigate to that tool selection that you have found and decided is premium for what you need, the right solution for you, we have a click here or a click here to buy now.

And when you click here to buy now we bring up that location that's close to you, but we also bring up some of our valued online distributors who, we value all of our distributors, but ultimately we need to provide and meet customers where they would like to be met at.

And so if you would like to have that online experience, we present it to you openly and we also provide you a way to find that local distributor that you can continue to nurture your existing relationship with.

Karen Edwards: Excellent. So you make it easy, however, I want to buy it. If I want to buy in person online, it's there.

John, I just want to thank you so much for being here today on MetalCast and sharing what's new and exciting at Malco Tools. And we are sure looking forward to METALCON and stopping by booth 1000. So going to plug MetalCoffeeShop here. We will be broadcasting live from YouTube throughout the show. So like I said, if you can't make it, check that out.

And Malco Tools does have a full directory on MetalCoffeeShop so you can find information there as well as visiting the company's website.

John, thanks so much. It's been great talking to you.

John Olson: Thank you, Karen. And thank you to the audience for listening. We really look forward to visiting with you at booth 1000 and METALCON.

Karen Edwards: Bye-Bye.

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