Kahn Tools is a new industrial supply company that exclusively sells American made products, founded by industry veteran Mark Kahn. Mark was the former president of Production Tool Supply for over 30 years. He has returned from retirement to create Kahn Tools, launching their eCommerce site on May 6th of this year. This site is to help provide American manufacturers and workers with the chance to promote and sell their products on an eCommerce website free of foreign competition. Industrial Distribution recently got the chance to speak with Mark Kahn on this new endeavor.
When did this idea for an American-made tool site come into being?
The idea for an online distributor selling American made tools exclusively evolved over the last 12 months. I knew that nothing like it existed.
- What prompted you to come out of retirement to start it up?
I have spent my entire career selling industrial products, both foreign and domestic, to American businesses. As I watched the decline of the manufacturing base in this country, due to the bad economy and foreign competition, I wanted to do something for the American workers who have been the foundation of my past success.
How did you make it happen logistically? How did your previous background help make this concept a reality?
Having developed hundreds of contacts in industrial distribution over the years, I reached out to many of my “old” friends, manufacturers and end users, for their opinion and support of my American only business model. I was overwhelmed by their interest and encouragement. I immediately started building a team of experienced industry and technology professionals to create a unique online presence. We wanted our customers to take pride in buying American made products.
In creating this site and business model, what challenges did you face to bring the conception to life?
Since Kahn Tools is strictly an online distributor with no inventory, we rely on the logistical support of our suppliers to drop ship our orders to our customers. This was a challenge for some manufacturers, but many more appreciated the powerful brand we were creating and were excited to work with us. Of course, managing a database of hundreds of thousands of products and keeping it up to date is never easy.
Have you faced any resistance in the endeavor?
Some of the very large, well-established brands are reluctant to add any new distributors at this time. Others don’t see the value of being promoted on a website that offers only U.S. made products. There are also several companies that have been sourcing more and more of their products from foreign manufacturers, so we can’t consider them.
What kind of reception has the endeavor met, both in theory (promotion) and in practice (people ordering from the site)? Have people come out of the woodwork to support this and make it a reality, given the resurgent interest in American manufacturing?
As a start-up company, we have very little history to gage our impact on the market. However, based on the increasing number of hits on our website and social networking sites, and the number of American manufacturers who are lining up to open accounts for us, I’m very optimistic about our future success. We ran a contest on Facebook and LinkedIn asking people to submit their thoughts on the quality of American products, and supporting American manufacturers. We received a deluge of heartfelt responses expressing their appreciation for products made in this country, and how they recognize their responsibility to protect American jobs.
Do you feel like the timing of the launch has helped promote the site (manufacturing reshoring movement, fiscal cliff, high unemployment, etc.)?
During these last 5 years almost everyone has suffered the consequences of the economic downturn. Friends and family members have been laid off, retirement funds are drying up, college graduates can’t get a job. Now, more than ever, we all need to take a stand and do whatever we can to protect American jobs and create new jobs for future generations. We are proud to be part of that initiative.
What kind of value do you feel this type of site brings to the industrial distribution sector & to the American economy at large?
As everyone knows, the industrial distribution market is incredibly fragmented, with thousands of distributors competing with the same products for the same customers. To survive, each distributor must provide a unique benefit to their customer. Kahn Tools has created a clear differentiation by offering end users a place to purchase American made industrial products exclusively. We also provide American manufacturers an online presence where they will never have to compete with foreign brands. The bottom line: Every dollar spent with Kahn Tools stays in this country.
What are the next steps for Kahn Tools? Where do you go from here?
We continue to improve the performance of our website to provide the best user experience in the industry. We are also actively onboarding new suppliers to our site to provide even more product choices. Our marketing efforts are also ramping up, both online and social networks, via e-mail and by direct mail campaigns. And we continue to recruit more product specialists to source new products and to provide technical support to our customers. We have a great team at Kahn Tools, and we’re all proud of our American-only business model.
For more information, please visit www.kahntools.com.