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In the Worx


Able Tool Taking Lighter Equipment to Max Potential in New England

Able Tool & Equipment has come onboard as an authorized distributor of Vacuworx lifting systems with locations in South Windsor, Connecticut, and West Springfield, Massachusetts. The company specializes in select offerings of tools and equipment to complement the “lighter” side of heavy highway, utility construction and demolition work.

Derek Bauer set out on his own and started Able Tool & Equipment in 2005, staking his claim in the distribution of light and compact equipment to serve the New England construction industry. What Bauer truly appreciates and set his sights on was the ability to offer personalized service and attention, alongside niche selections of construction tools to perfectly suit the needs of customers.

These are the same attributes Bauer and his associates tend to look for while out in the market as an equipment dealer working to build better business relationships with toolmakers. They have been steadfast in their business philosophy and steady in their approach to growing Able Tool, demonstrating an unwillingness to exchange personalized service, select product offerings and attention to detail for a larger scope or bigger bottom line.

In lieu of continuous pursuit of exponential growth, Bauer’s group tends to focus on prioritizing connections with manufacturers who understand the New England territory, its geography and construction business landscape. The right level of support is imperative, he said, from helping secure leads to getting on the phone with a customer.

“When you deal with such a small subset of the construction industry, regarding our top 200 customers, we know them quite well,” Bauer said. “We are really focused on a small segment of products. Things you can pick and choose. That’s what makes us valuable. A customer can text me. We are familiar, and like family, and whatever we sell we want to be able to support.”

“For us, this isn’t about quarterly gains or having 10 stores,” Bauer stated. “We like dealing with smaller manufacturers who may appreciate what we do more so than some of the bigger manufacturers looking only for volume. The way you reach critical mass is salesperson-to-salesperson and customer-to-customer. What we look at is trying to get better at serving our customers. We are promoting access to tools that generate a viable revenue source.”

Able Tool’s first brand ambassadorship was developed with Wacker Neuson, a prolific maker of compaction and concrete equipment. On it website, Able Tool proudly displays the brand standards of more than two dozen companies, from Chicago Pneumatic and Husqvarna Construction to Toro and EZ Drill.

Starting with Vacuworx in Q1 2021, Able Tool currently deals primarily in three lines of vacuum lifters attuned specifically to situations where light weight and adaptability are important, alongside the ability to work in cramped quarters or confined spaces or where no power source is readily available. The company both sells and rents Vacuworx lifters that are designed to be compatible with host equipment such as lift dollies, smaller loaders, mini excavators, forklifts, demolition robots and skid steers, to name a few.

Compatibility and adaptability are hallmarks associated with the Vacuworx lines of compact lifting equipment and systems with modular pads allowing more work to be accomplished in a safe, timely manner using the same machines. They are made to lift and maneuver steel plate, saw-cut concrete, landscape pavers, granite and marble slabs and other materials.

Able Tool first bought in to the Vacuworx PS/PHD Series—portable vacuum lifting systems engineered for handling smaller materials close to the ground on both interior and exterior jobs. Powered by a 12V 30 amp/hour rechargeable LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery and two dual-stage vacuum pumps to build vacuum faster, the PHD is lightweight and completely portable with a lifting capacity of up to 2,500 lb.

Lightweight and extremely versatile, the SL 2 Subcompact Vacuum Lifting System features a universal mounting plate that makes it easily attachable to most skid steer models. The lifting units were designed for flexible use with quick connect hoses allowing for fast action when switching between attachments to maximize productivity on work sites.

“What my guys a lot of the time are going after is not low-hanging fruit,” Bauer said. “We saw early on that you had better be dealing in a niche product. It may take a little extra effort to see if it fits. That’s what I try to stress to my customers—and I see a lot of them when they walk in the door or we walk in the door—and they will take a minute for us because we have watched what you are doing and thought it through.”

Vacuworx equipment, compatible with a wide range of host machines, also works with a variety of mini-excavators and small cranes using a clevis hook connection. One of Able Tool’s first rentals of a Vacuworx system was an SL Series lifter coupled with an electric skid steer manufactured by Prague-based KOVACO Electric.

“We try to stay on leading edge of equipment and are always trying to find better solutions for our customers,” Bauer continued. "If we do that, we will have loyal customers. When things started to align, Vacuworx was really helpful right out of the gate and they got us more excited about starting to promote it. Their inside people really took the time.

“The team at Vacuworx made a good first impression. Look how (the lifting systems) can pick and set slabs in trench cutouts. Or for steps and patios. These machines eliminate labor, help overcome labor shortages. They understand the selling points. It is a safe option and many times we see a guy can be taken off one job and put on another. It was the perfect complement. It’s almost like an employee.”