Sloot.com offers an online tool store for contractors.
The Sloot.com team said they know tools forwards and backwards. That's why they founded Sloot.com, an Internet community for trade professionals.
"We noticed a lot of sites geared toward that industry where no one was really paying attention to the trade professionals - the people who were actually doing the work out in the field," said Josh Blank, project manager for Sloot.com. "We wanted to create a community that would cater to the people who actually use the tools."
The Beaverton, Ore.-based company started developing the site in March and launched it in mid-August as Sloot.com.
"We wanted a short and simple name that would be unique, catchy and easy to remember," Blank said. "One of the people that we work with came up with the name, `sloot', and it was available, so we got it."
"Sloot," or tools spelled backwards, refers to more than just wire cutters and clampmeters.
"When we say tools, we don't mean tools in a literal sense," Blank said. "We believe that the Internet and some of the tools that it offers are just as important as the tools that we would carry around on our tool belt."
The Web development team created specialized pages for electricians, telecom specialists, HVAC mechanics, plumbers, carpenters and woodworkers. Each section includes hot products, columns, feature articles and forums as well as a trade-specific search engine called a "knowledgebase."
"Knowledgebase is a specialized search engine that contains dozens of articles, message board topics or tools," Blank said. "The results that it returns should be very focused and should answer their questions."
Sloot.com not only offers information specific to each trade, but also specializes its page for each individual. After registering on the site with your name, e-mail address, country, zip code and trade affiliation, a box titled "My Tools" will pop up in the upper right hand corner. Click on "weather" and it will give you a four-day forecast for your city. If you need directions to a job site, click on driving directions, type in your departure and destination addresses and a map and detailed directions will appear in Mapquest. Registered users can also sign up for free e-mail through Sloot.com and earn "sloot loot" award points. By registering, users get an automatic 50 points.
"We have a reward program for using different features of the site or making a purchase," Blank said. "Just visiting the site, you can accumulate award points that you can use toward the purchase of promotional gear as well as tools and things from our catalog."
Sloot.com features a catalog with nine major product categories and tools from 17 manufacturers such as Fluke Corp. and Ideal Industries Inc.
"Our tool offering grows every day," Blank said. "We are adding 100 to 200 new products a week into the catalog."
The Sloot.com team is also working on developing wireless applications that can be used from the job site.
"The up and coming features will include wireless access to the community, online calculators and other tools that they can use while on the job site with a handheld wireless device (such as a Palm Pilot)."
Blank said Sloot.com is trying to build up its user base by exhibiting at trade shows, such as the recent NECA show in Seattle.
"People were intrigued with what we were doing and the audience that we were focusing on," Blank said. "We were impressed with the response we got at NECA. Electrical contractors are definitely an up and coming market."
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