BY DEBBIE PAGE
debbiepage.iredellfreenews@gmail.com

A new tool rental section, one of the first in North Carolina, officially opened at the Lowe’s Home Improvement in Troutman on Thursday morning to serve local DIY enthusiasts as well as to serve professionals in need of temporary equipment during breakdowns or for specialized projects.

Town Manager Ron Wyatt cut the “board” to officially open the tool rental area, with Mayor Teross Young, Town Council members George Harris, Felina Harris, Paul Henkel, and Eddie Nau, Director of Public Works Adam Lippard, and Parks and Recreation Director Chip Smith also coming to welcome the new addition to the community.

“It’s great to have local businesses in our community to continue to grow,” said Mayor Young. “It means jobs, it means an opportunity for us to have new product that we wouldn’t ordinarily have in our community and have to travel outside for.”

Young welcomed the new teammates coming to work in the new facility, located on the south side of the Lowe’s building off Exit 42. “I know the community will come out to support it.”

Young noted that now community members can rent tools and equipment and save labor costs while improving their homes and quality of life.

Brad Card well, the tool rental supervisor, said Lowe’s saw a big demand for this type of rental service to support both professionals and amateurs. “Now not only can we sell them the grass seed, we can now supply them with an overseeder and slicer so they can do yard work themselves.”

“It’s just a way to further integrate ourselves into the community and to Troutman. We feel like we have the customers to support this type of thing.”

In the past two years, Cardwell said, Lowe’s has experienced a significant uptick in home improvement projects, estimating up to 50 percent of Lowe’s sales comes from DIY customers. “I guess they were sitting at home all day and looking at those things that needed to be done.”

Cardwell emphasized that safety is the foremost concern at Lowes. Before a customer leaves with a tool or equipment rental, staff members will ensure they know how to use it properly, as well as provide safety equipment along with the rental.

For example, if they rent a chain saw, Lowe’s will include chaps to protect the customer’s legs, a helmet, and eye and ear protection, all at no charge. “We just want them to be safe when they are using our tools,” he said.

Lowe’s team members are working on creating a “proving ground” next to the tool rental section so customers can try using the equipment under staff supervision before taking it home. “If you’ve never run a trencher before and are nervous about it, we can take you out there and show you how to do it to have that comfort level,” Cardwell explained.

Noting that customers can call back to the store for additional help as needed, Cardwell said, “We just want our customers to feel confident when they are doing their projects.”

After COVID-19 restrictions lift, Cardwell hopes they can offer instructional classes again. Until then, they are working with customers individually.

Equipment available for rent includes generators, cement mixers, a wide variety of lawn and garden equipment, trenchers, various saws, concrete saws, carpet shampooers, pressure washers, paint sprayers, and tile cutters.

“We are really providing our customers a lot of freedom that they didn’t have before. They can’t just go down the street and buy these expensive tools for one project.”

“Some of these things cost $10,000, so now they have that access. Any project they can think of, we can help them tackle,” added Cardwell.

Customers must have a valid picture ID and an email account to rent tools and equipment. Those 18 and older can rent most equipment, but customers must be 21 and have car liability insurance to rent towable equipment pulled on a Lowe’s trailer.

The rental also includes a protection plan to shield customers financially if a properly used tool or piece of equipment seizes up or breaks.

The minimum rental is four hours, with extended rental periods available to meet customer needs. All contract details are emailed to the customer.

Customers can also go online to check tool and equipment availability and reserve those needed. Cardwell suggests using this convenient service so staff can have everything ready to go at the customer’s arrival time and expedite the process.

The grand opening event lunch featured lunch from Randy’s barbecue, Lowe’s giveaways, and prize drawings for new rental customers for a power drill, Sawzall, leveler, and other tools, all donated by vendors.

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