21 October 2016
He speaks with an American accent, but TJ Irvin is a passionate inventor and entrepreneur who’s Slammer product embodies the very spirit of Kiwi ‘can do’ creativity and ingenuity, so much so that the New Zealand made product is fast becoming a national and international icon in the world of agricultural and building tools….
TJ had been making prototypes of ‘Slammer’ tools since 1990 when working to remove bamboo in Seattle and for use in other landscaping, fencing and construction jobs. When he emigrated to NZ in 1999 he made a version just to help him with his own landscaping projects and then friends starting asking where they could get one. One thing led to another and he started to make them for more than a few friends…
Nevertheless, he was aware that Kiwis knew their tools and creating something in New Zealand for the home market would need the credibility only a truly great product could give. And the Slammer has credibility to spare…
Why was it so good? Well, for a variety of reasons. The inspiration for the Slammer tool was doing very hard jobs where one couldn’t use machinery, such as digging in hard ground for example, or removing invasive plants and doing fences and retaining walls. The Slammer is a combination of a sledgehammer, a digging bar and an axe that stays sharp whilst breaking concrete and rock. A big advantage is that it keeps the user’s back straight and utilises core strength.
TJ had also been inspired by a miner’s jack-pick, a slide hammer that he had seen in his grandfather’s shed. Whilst working for Bamboo Gardens in Seattle as a teenager TJ used some of the first Slammer prototypes he had created but they, along with his spades and axes, kept breaking when he was trying to remove bamboo from difficult tight spots.
He partnered up with Gary Templeton – a sixth generation manufacturing engineer who put the skills and backing of his manufacturing company Templeton and Sons behind TJ - and the pair came up with the simple and strong connection that is used between the pipe and the blade that forms the integral functional heart of the Slammer. The patent process began and the NZ Slammer tool manufacturing followed. The rest, as they say, is history.
“We started selling the first Slammer tools in 2006, trading under the name Paddy’s Pad. Slammer Ltd was incorporated on June 2, 2009. We manufacture in New Zealand and we sell locally and internationally through our website,” explained TJ.
“We now have distributors in North America and Germany, and the long-term plan is to have a number of different manufacture/distributors set up in different countries under contract licence. We have done this recently with a company called Ryset in Melbourne who now manufacture and distribute the Slammer for the Australian market. We believe that is the way to go for us and this product.
The two engineering shops that make all parts for the Slammer tools in New Zealand are based in Albertown and Dunedin. The rubber safety sleeve used in between the male and female parts of the tool is made in Christchurch by Rubber Developments. Even the rubber sheath that the Slammer tool comes in (for storing/transporting and keeping the two parts together) is made from recycled mountain bike tyres and inner tubes – courtesy of local bike shops in Otago. These are a problem that would otherwise end up in the landfill, so the bike shops tend to be grateful to the company for taking them.
Labels come from Wanaka Signs and every product is Buy New Zealand Made branded as well! “Everywhere we have gone internationally the NZ made label has been associated with innovation, integrity and quality. It’s a must for us,” added TJ. “We are proud to be manufacturing something in NZ for Kiwis and beyond. Less carbon footprint, better quality control, providing local jobs and work opportunities.”
Visit www.theslammertool.com to learn more and to buy.