Mark Randlett
James P. D'Alessio Inc.
Brentwood, N.H.
Big50 1999

We don't have a tool allowance, and we avoid having employee-owned power tools on the job. Instead, our lead carpenters drive company vans that are stocked with company-owned power tools. The company also provides and maintains any necessary safety equipment.

The only power tools we expect employees to provide are smaller items such as cordless drills. We give new employees a list of tools we require them to own. The list starts out very basic — mostly items that they would carry in their toolbelt. At certain time increments, the list increases to include levels, chisels, etc. Generally, new hires with any experience already have the tools that we would require after two years, and then some.

Kelly Vogan
Vogan Associates
Silver Spring, Md.
Big50 2005

Our tool allowance varies by position. Lead carpenters can spend up to $400 a year, carpenters can spend up to $200 a year, and helpers and laborers can spend up to $100 a year. They can pay for the tools and give us the receipts for reimbursement, or they can charge them to the company and have the amount deducted from their paychecks.

Most guys make one big purchase with the allowance. It won't cover a really big tool, so they can also use company-owned tools such as table saws, big miter boxes, and nail guns. We find that most employees would rather use their own tools, and they take better care of them. To that end, separate from the tool allowance, we'll pay to repair and maintain employees' tools, assuming they use them heavily on our projects.

Gary Moffie
The Remodeling Co.
Beverly, Mass.
Big50 2005

We don't have a “tool allowance,” per se. I tell all my employees that if they have a need for a specific tool, they should let me know. If it's something that will improve their efficiency or will allow them to do their jobs more safely, we purchase it for them.

We have found that our employees are pretty responsible with this; I don't recall any of them asking to purchase unnecessary tools.

My job supervisors are always on the lookout for tools that will help us do our jobs better. Recently, we bought a new compound miter saw and table saw, both on portable stands. We are currently researching portable vacuum systems that will attach to our various saws to help keep dust down on jobsites.

Randy Foster
The Artisans Group
Olympia, Wash.
Big50 2005

We give employees up to $750 per year for tools. The program's goal is to certify that all employees have the tools they need to complete their tasks as efficiently as possible, and to create an environment in which each tool is correctly maintained.

New employees are given a list of tools they are expected to carry. They buy the tools, then are reimbursed by submitting a tool allowance request form and a copy of purchase receipts. No pre-approval is required, but we would question a reimbursement request for items not related to remodeling work.

On a calendar year basis, we reimburse 100% of the first $200 an employee spends on tools. We reimburse 50% for purchases exceeding the initial $200, and we cap total reimbursements at $750 per employee per year. The slate is wiped clean at the end of each year; the employees must use the benefit or lose it.

Employees may keep tools purchased under the program, but when they leave, we review any tool reimbursements made during the six months prior to their departure. We then deduct a prorated amount of the reimbursements from their final paycheck.

Overall, the program has been successful. The Artisans Group enjoys having team members who are fully set up to do their jobs, and employees like having the tools they need.

Finley Perry
F.H. Perry — Builder
Hopkinton, Mass.
Big50 1998

We are primarily a management organization. Two of our 16 employees are “trade workers.” We really have no need for a tool policy. Our two lead carpenters have their own tools. The company owns some larger electric tools —bench saw, portable band saw, electric hammer, etc. — which get occasional use. We rely on subcontractors to supply most tools and equipment used on our projects.