During a bear market, many investors do the opposite of what they should be doing—they start selling off their stocks when they should be buying more. In a recession, many companies do likewise. They should be investing more on marketing and research and development but instead they cut spending on advertising budgets and curtail new product development.

This, consultants say, is not a winning strategy.

As housing starts remain low, it would be easy for some companies to struggle through the hard times with only their existing products, but others understand that a tough economy is no time to hunker down. A few are introducing products with unique features and first-of-their-kind technologies that aim to capture the attention of contractors and other building professionals.

Milwaukee, Wis.–based Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp., for example, has launched a band saw that it says stands alone. Weighing 6.75 pounds and measuring 12 inches in length, it’s the lightest and most compact cordless band saw on the market with less than half the size and weight of deep cut band saws, the company says.

“The M12 Band Saw is not only ideal for one-handed cutting applications because of its size,” says David Lincoln, product manager for the company’s cordless division, “it is the only band saw on the market with a fully integrated lower guard that covers the blade outside the active cutting area. This addresses OSHA guarding requirements to make the tool suitable for one-handed use.”

Another company taking a similar approach to innovation is West Chester, Pa.–based Metabo Corp. The tool manufacturer has launched what it’s calling “the world’s first cordless magnetic drill press.” The tool uses lithium-ion battery technology as well as “a permanent rare earth magnet, requiring no energy from the battery, which allows the use of the mag drill in remote and previously inaccessible environments.”

Some companies’ new features are small, but still manage to feel major. Vernon Hills, Ill.–based Paslode, for example, added a lithium-ion battery to one of its framing nailers, the CF325Li, and the company is touting it as “the first fuel-powered cordless framing system in the USA with a lithium-ion battery.” The tool drives 50 percent more nails per charge (up to 6,000), and holds a charge five times longer than a previous version of the nailer with a Ni-Cad battery.

“With the decline in new-housing starts, many builders have begun taking on smaller [projects], such as home improvement and repairs, room additions, and remodeling jobs,” says John Sarah, marketing manager for Paslode. These types of activities are perfectly suited for cordless tools such as the CF325Li, she adds. The tool “translates to increased jobsite efficiency and also helps builders produce consistently high-quality projects that they and the homeowner can be proud of.” 

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