Douglas Mayher Jr. has been a proud HVAC technician for 25 years. An enthusiastic mentor to apprentices in his union (United Association Local 190), he currently works at W.J. O’Neil Company, a commercial construction firm based out of Livonia, Michigan.

The skilled trades run deep in his family: His father was a welder, his grandfather was a plumber, along with an uncle and a cousin. On becoming an HVAC technician at his father’s recommendation, Mayher Jr. said it was “one of the best decisions I ever made for me and my family in the last 25 years.”

Construction and the skilled trades have changed a lot since his grandfather’s time, along with the tools that Mayher Jr. works with everyday. Some of the biggest transformations in recent years have been the advent of Bluetooth® enabled smart tools and digital apps like ONE-KEY™, which played a role in Mayher Jr.’s decision to convert to Milwaukee.

“I’m kind of a tool collector or hoarder, whatever my wife calls me,” he said. “She doesn’t like seeing boxes delivered, because there’s a lot of red boxes that show up.”

For years, Mayher Jr. used a cumbersome Excel spreadsheet to organize his tools. Nowadays, he’s able to easily track and manage an inventory of roughly 1,300 tools using the free One-Key app.

A big draw for Mayher Jr. is his ability to access his inventory anywhere from the cloud.

“I’ve changed multiple phones, multiple devices—as long as you have your username and password, you can get into that system,” he said.

Mayher Jr. tracks nearly everything in One-Key, from large power tools and rigging equipment to hand tools and consumable items like caps for plugging hydraulic lines. Having everything logged into One-Key has saved him time on the job, particularly on large-scale project where lots of tools are deployed.

Mayher Jr. recalled one such job, where he was searching for a particular tool in a sea of PACKOUT kits.

 “Instead of dragging out six different cases, I pulled up the app and saw that the tool was in box number five,” he said. “So, we pulled box number five and that was that.”

One-Key is now so essential to his day to day workflow that it has become one of the things he points to as a workplace essential when training apprentices.

“If you’re going to put your own tools on a [work] truck, you’d better have a way—if that truck gets stolen or something else—to track your tools,” he said. “So when you go to make an insurance claim, you can go ahead and let them know, ‘Hey, I’ve had this equipment on there, here’s the serial numbers, here’s this, here’s that.’”

Another thing he’d like to impart to the next generation: Be proud of pursuing a career in the skilled trades:

“I think people are starting to realize there’s nothing wrong with earning a living with your hands and your mind. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with college—we need all kinds of people. People who are always trying to fix things, pull them apart, and put them back together—those are the kinds of kids you want to see in the trade schools. And the moral of the story is I hope society starts to look at that as a viable alternative to college, not just like, ‘well, you can’t make it in college.’”

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