When life gives you lemons…

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My name is Paul Bierman. I’m a general contractor from Bozeman, Montana, and like most builders, I never really kept track of my tools thinking that no one would be brazen enough to break into my locked trailer. Well, if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s being wrong.

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I was working on a project in Bozeman, Montana in the spring of 2015 when I had the delightful experience of showing up at work to find the back doors on my job trailer swinging wide open in the breeze, and a few shelves of tools completely emptied. None of it made any sense, why the doors were open, and why some of the tools on the shelves were gone, but other tools and nail guns directly opposite the empty shelves were still there. I was slow to realize what happened, and as reality set in, my heart just sank.

If you’ve had the pleasure of experiencing jobsite theft, you know how violating and frustrating it can feel. I immediately filed a police report and the officer asked me if I could provide him with a list or description of my tools. So, as angry as I was, I wrote down all the tools that I could tell were missing and went back to my home office to tackle a police report. The only way I knew how to describe the tools was to google each one and download images of the ones I could find. I was able to come up with a fairly comprehensive list of tools and descriptions for each one. Next, I had to go to the hardware store to see if they could find any records of my receipts, since I was not good at keeping those either. Talk about a pain and a whole lot of wasted time.

When I finished gathering all the info I could find, I went back to the police station to give the reporting officer my tool description, and he basically said, “Best of luck, dude. Not much we can do for you now, but if you find them in a pawn shop, give us a call.” Not only did I just have my tools stolen, I didn’t have the tools I needed to get my work done, and the police didn’t have the time or resources to do anything about it. What the heck! Not a happy moment, to say the least.

So I did what any other bent out of shape construction worker would do. I went pawn shop hunting. I’d already lost a couple of days trying to figure out what I was missing, learning that none of my stuff was insured, and I could only find a handful of receipts to verify models and serial numbers so what the heck? Out of complete desperation and anger, I took the list of tools I had put together, and I started hitting pawn shops. I would show them my list of tools, and most pawn shops would only briefly look at the photos I had downloaded next to the descriptions and would tell me they didn’t have any of my stuff.

I finally hit one pawn shop that was literally a mile from the job site. I told the manager what had happened, and he looked at my list, and immediately pointed to about 5 of the images and said, “I got that, that, that, this one, and that one.”

That moment, with the instant response from the pawn shop manager was an “Ah Hah!” moment for me. All I wanted to do was figure out who stole my stuff and get even with the perp. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, a fire was lit that kept me thinking about ways to simplify my record keeping process. I knew I wasn’t alone in this experience, and I realized so many other builders find themselves in the exact same position, and I knew we can all use a better solution. In the end, I was able to recover a little more than half my tools all across the state, and Law Enforcement did eventually catch the bad guy.

As a contractor, most of what we do (aside from scheduling, cost control, appeasing clients, and quality assurance) is problem solving. Things like structural issues, systems integrations. Plumbers, electricians, and HVAC all wanting the same joist bays, etc. We get good at solving problems and coming up with creative solutions. Dealing with this theft was a problem I knew had a solution but I didn’t know what it was, and I did know I was way out of my wheelhouse. But I was motivated. Did I mention I’m stubborn too? So, I spent the next 4 years, trying to articulate an answer, a solution, different approaches, and FINALLY, perseverance paid off. What we have come up with is so revolutionary to the building industry, I am actually surprised that I get to take any credit at all for this new approach.

PowerTool Safe™ is actually designed by builders for builders. The sad reality is, theft is rampant in the construction industry, because most of you are just like me. Its easy to convince ourselves that “this will never happen to me”, and so we do little to keep good records, making it ever easier for “opportunists” to capitalize on our negligence. We’ve all heard the saying “The Cobbler’s kids have no shoes” and it’s ever so true. We all become our own last priority. We spend the least amount of time organizing our own assets and taking care of what we rely on because we naturally put the paying clients’ needs first. Until we choose to prioritize ourselves just long enough to make sure our bases are covered, theft will continue. I know how precious your time is. That’s why we’ve designed PowerTool SafeTM to help you create tool records instantly with photos.

We hope that you find the same value in PowerTool SafeTM that we do, and we hope it helps protect you from the experiences I went through. Our goal is to dramatically reduce theft nationwide by harnessing your information and getting everyone to work together. Our promise to you is that if your tools are ever stolen, you can rest assured, we will do everything we can to help you recover your tools, and help law enforcement #stickittothebadguy.


Paul Bierman, Founder and CEO

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