KMS Tools and Equipment Ltd. is fixing a hole in Edmonton for car buffs, contractors and hardcore home handymen it says was left when the House of Tools chain went under.
The family-owned, Coquitlam, B.C.-based company — whose Edmonton presence has been limited until now to a small distribution outlet — will hold the grand opening of its first Edmonton store next week.
Founded in 1983 by Stan Pridham, a classic-car restorer and former forklift mechanic, KMS expanded outside British Columbia to Red Deer in 2008.
Its new local home is the 24,000-square-foot former Campbell’s furniture store at 14520 111th Ave. — and KMS made a point of retaining Campbell’s old ceiling-mounted call cords which customers pull to light up a lamp summoning sales assistance.
The company now has nine stores, and a planned Calgary store could open in the next year.
“In the Edmonton marketplace, certainly we recognized there was a vacuum there with one of Western Canada’s tool providers going bankrupt a couple of years ago,” said Vince Young, KMS Alberta operations manager.
Two Edmonton House of Tools stores closed in 2009 when the U.S. owner, which took over the company, filed for bankruptcy.
“There was a vacuum here for our niche-market retail environment. … We really didn’t sense that anyone stepped up like we can to fill that void.”
The opening was there and Alberta’s economic cycle appears to be on the company’s side too.
“We’re noticing that more and more builders are starting to gear up and the oilfields are really gearing up. Perfect timing for us.”
KMS’s arrival was also good timing for several former House of Tools employees, including Young, who were snapped up for their expertise and experience.
KMS sells woodworking implements, welding equipment, compressors, shop and safety supplies, industrial gear and auto parts, and tools. Besides its store, KMS also sends out industrial salespeople to schools and shops in northern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
KMS competes against both consumer retailers such as Canadian Tire, Rona and the Home Depot and industry-focused competitors such as Acklands Grainger and Gregg Distributors, Young said.
“For the selection and the quality of the tools we sell, we’re really contractor-focused. We get a lot of contractors in, but we are open to the general public and that opens us up to niche-market retailing for the serious do-it-yourselfer, or the power-tool junkie can come in and get the same selection and the same pricing that contractors would get.”