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The ToolShed celebrates 21 years

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It all started more than 40 years ago from very humble beginnings.

After negotiating a sale for the business he was working in, Graeme and Wayne Giles’s father, Colin, was made redundant.

With 30 years’ experience and after some discussion between Graeme and Colin, it was decided that they should set out in business in engineering supplies. Graeme and Colin had a grand total of $5000 each to put into the business and so Giles Industries was formed.

Colin Giles in the driveway of the first store at Pine Ave in Hamilton. This is the Bedford van Wayne sold tools from.

Colin Giles in the driveway of the first store at Pine Ave in Hamilton. This is the Bedford van Wayne sold tools from.

A Ford Cortina stationwagon was purchased for $6500 and the room at the back of the garage at the family home was cleared to make room for stock. 

Graeme, a carpenter by trade, decided to keep running his building company, which had the franchise for Intalok Natural Timber homes. This helped prop up the engineering supplies business as it got going.

Twelve months later, Wayne had finished his building apprenticeship. It was decided he would take the green Bedford van from the building company and deck it out with tools to travel around selling to customers. To help pay for this, Wayne had to sell his beloved Ford Escort.

Inside the first 100sqm store in Colombo St in Frankton.

Inside the first 100sqm store in Colombo St in Frankton.

After running up to five gangs of builders, the economy hit hard times in the late 80s so they decided to close the building business. Graeme joined his father and brother and, with his expertise in carpentry, worked on explaining the product range. Wayne focused on importing tools, firstly out of Taiwan and Italy and then later from mainland China. These tools were sold through Giles Industries and some larger chain stores throughout New Zealand.

The ToolShed 3“Recognising the volatility of brand exposure in these larger distributers, we realised that the market would change. We had to control incoming and outgoing product, while minimising extra margins taken by ‘middlemen’,” says Graeme.

“After being a part of a loose group selling power tools we decided to focus and start our own franchise.”

Twenty-one years ago, The ToolShed was formed. It was a place where the tradie, farmer or DIYer could shop comfortably and get the best prices and top service. This was a concept that Kiwis could relate to.

“The business had quite a few moves over the years,” says Graeme. “We moved from the house in Melville to 100sq m in Colombo Street, to 350 sq m in Bandon Street, then 500 sq m at 20 Norton Road. Then there was a major move across the road into 2200 sq m at 11 Norton Road.

Opening of the previous Norton Road store in Frankton, around 25 years ago, with Mayor Margaret Evans, Colin, Wayne and Graeme Giles.

Opening of the previous Norton Road store in Frankton, around 25 years ago, with Mayor Margaret Evans, Colin, Wayne and Graeme Giles.

“Recently we have moved into our new premises at 81 Arthur Porter Drive that is more than 3600 sq m. The new facility has gone from 1200 pallet spaces to more than 4300. We’ve also moved our national support office, webstore and opened a second store in Hamilton.”

Starting out with only two stores, the ToolShed now has 26 outlets from Whangarei in the north to Invercargill in the south.    

The ToolShed brings top value serious DIY, trade and professional tools.

It is one of the largest authorised dealers in New Zealand for Milwaukee, Makita, DeWalt, HiKoki and Powerbuilt tools all backed up by New Zealand service, warranties and specifications.

It also imports a massive range of quality tools under the ToolShed brand. Many of these products are sourced out of factories that manufacture for some well-known brand names.

“Our import programme gives us the ability to highly specify the tools that we import to ensure quality with New Zealand, European and Australian standards,” says Graeme.

The new premises at Arthur Porter Drive.

The new premises at Arthur Porter Drive.

“We buy large quantities and sell direct to you, at extremely good prices, cutting out the middleman.

“When Dad initially set up, he wanted a family company. Our sister Wendy has been involved with the business in some form for more than 30 years and is now the business manager.

“Dad would also be happy that more than 12 years ago grandchildren Blair and Brent came on board, and they are now the import product manager and general manager respectively. More recently Nathan has come on as manager of our webstore and Katie is our graphic designer.

“The ToolShed now has more than 100 employees nationwide, some of whom have been with us for many years. Dad would be proud to know that we like to think of and treat them as part of the extended family.”

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