An early adapter of ONE-KEY™, Brad Browman used the app to track down and catch a thief on a jobsite. He’s relied on One-Key compatible solutions ever since.
“If I didn’t catch it right away, he’d have walked out of range. I would never have seen the drill again…That’s the one theft I know for sure One-Key stopped in my sights.”
Brad Browman’s drill disappeared around 2:30 pm on Friday June 10, 2016.
A cabinetmaker and third generation skilled-trades business owner, Browman had taken a weekend job on the work crew at Winstock, a country music festival in Winsted, Minnesota.
The gates had just opened for the day and families were ambling in with their coolers and lawn chairs. Security ordered him to go repair a collapsed fence near the VIP section of the main stage.
Browman hopped into an ATV and headed over. In the seat next to him was a first-generation Milwaukee Tool M18 FUEL™ One-Key drill and impact driver kit, still fitted snug in its bright red box.
At the fence, he flipped open the case, grabbed the impact, and got to work.
“I put two screws in, turned around, and the drill was gone,” he said. Browman had purchased the tool “fresh off the pallet” at a Home Depot that Tuesday.
72 hours later, someone had stolen it.
In that moment, standing there among the festival goers, Browman did something that few people up to that point had ever done before: He swiped through his phone and opened the One-Key app.
Minutes earlier, he’d been showing off his new “smart” toys backstage to members of the Winstock security team. A power tool tech nerd and father of four boys, Browman would often wind down at night after putting the kids to bed by scanning the Milwaukee website for new gear. When he’d first read about the customization, remote inventory management, and cutting-edge Bluetooth tracking capabilities of One-Key, he knew he had to have it.
Now, facing the loss of a $250 power tool, Browman blinked in surprise as his eyes locked onto a small blue dot pinging silently away from him on his screen.
“My first reaction was ‘there it is! Holy crap, it’s walking away!’” he said. After a quick glance through the 20 or so festival attendees in the area, he spotted a man with a backpack slung over his shoulder meandering his way between the lawn chairs.
Browman flagged down a nearby Sheriff’s deputy on the security team and explained the situation. Together, they approached the man and asked if he happened to have a power drill in his backpack.
“At first, he said he didn’t,” Browman said, “But the deputy told him I had a tracker on my phone that said my drill was in his bag.”
The man opened the backpack but insisted the M18-FUEL inside belonged to him—even after being shown the serial number on Browman’s phone, as well as the sticker on its side of Browman’s businesss, E & I Custom Woodworking.
The matter was swiftly resolved, however, when Browman hit the “Blink Light” button in the One-Key app. Satisfied, the deputy arrested the thief on the spot.
“If I didn’t catch it right away, he’d have walked out of range,” Browman said. “I would never have seen the drill again … that’s the one theft I know for sure One-Key stopped in my sights.”
A Passion for Power Tools
Browman is the owner and sole employee of E & I Custom Woodworking, a cabinetry business he started in 2013. The son of a tool and dye maker, he earned his degree in carpentry with a minor in cabinetmaking from Alexandria Technical & Community College in 2004.
An early adopter, Browman remains an avid One-Key user to this day.
“There are people who don’t care how it works, they just want to grab it and go. Then there are people like me who are passionate about what they do and the tools they use in their work.”
It’s not uncommon for his wife to come home and find him sitting on the living room floor fine-tuning the torque settings on his trusty M18 FUEL drill and impact driver set, the news playing unnoticed on the TV, bits of cabinet hardware in various states of assembly scattered all around him.
“There are two types of tool guys out there,” Browman said. “There are people who don’t care how it works, they just want to grab it and go. Then there are people like me who are passionate about what they do and the tools they use in their work.”
Power tools run deeper in Browman’s family than most. His grandfather was John Ollig, one of the three inventors of the pneumatic nail gun.
Legend has it that one night in the mid-1950s, Ollig and two other World War II veterans were sitting in the Winsted Legion when they came to the joint conclusion that “they could buy a lot more beer if they had more money.”
To that end, according to a 2005 article in the local Winsted newspaper, Ollig and his compatriots began holing up in his garage, tinkering the hours away on a prototype for an air-powered nailer that functioned like a machine gun.
Browman still has one of his grandfather’s first prototypes on a workbench in his own garage.
In his van, though, it’s a whole other story.
“It’s all Milwaukee red, there’s no other tool in there,” he said. “That tells you something.”
One-Key in the Field
On an average day, Browman goes into the shop in the morning and does two things right away: Lays out the day’s projects and cycles through his One-Key inventory on his phone, checking battery charges and marking on the app which ones are damaged and which ones are “In Use” or “Available.”
Besides the drill and impact driver, Browman uses TICK™ Tool & Equipment Trackers (Milwaukee’s first-gen Bluetooth® Tracking Tag) to keep tabs on the locations of some of the non-One-Key enabled gear in his load-out: an air-compressor, a few ladders, and several Milwaukee PACKOUT™s. He even has a TICK fastened to his work trailer.
He’s convinced the trackers helped him avoid another theft in 2011. Returning to his truck after spending all day on the jobsite, he noticed that his house keys and some junk mail were missing, but strangely, his PACKOUTs and all the tools stowed within them were completely untouched. According to Browman, when he reported the incident to the police, the officer told him, “ ‘We haven’t seen a lot of theft in Milwaukee Tools lately because [thieves] know they’re being tracked.’ ”
“It’s all Milwaukee Red, there’s no other tool in there. That tells you something.”
Besides theft prevention, One-Key has also saved Browman money by safeguarding against damage to himself and his handiwork. He mostly works residential jobs, installing finished cabinets and drawers in people’s homes. The work requires a high level of precision: too much torque could snap a screw, twist a wrist, or drive a knob too deep into a cabinet, chipping paint or puckering the wood.
“If you’re drilling the corner of a sink and that last quarter inch, where it punches out or catches? That drill can spin around and nearly break a window,” he said. “I always dreaded that before One-Key.”
With One-Key’s customization settings and anti-kickback measures, he can precisely configure the torque of his drill and impact driver to avoid the risk of injury or damage to his product, saving time and money.
For Browman, smart features like these have always been a big selling point for One-Key, but his loyalty to the brand comes down to something more personal.
“At the end of the day,” he said, “Milwaukee feels good in my hand.”