Ryan Hunt

Proudly South African. 38 years of Vermont tools…

Walk into any Warehouse store, Hardware shop, Bike shop, in fact just about any retailer in S.A. and into just about any home workshop or garage, handyman business, big repair and maintenance company. Builder yard or construction site, we can basically guarantee that you will find at least one of Vermonts products somewhere. 

By Sean Hendley. Pics Kyle Lawrenson.

Big Chair, Ryan with Glenn and Kyle.

Their brands are as recognisable as the South African flag and they are as South African as the Springboks, The Proteas, Bafana Bafana and the Binder Boys. 

Just 38 years ago a young husband and Dad had a dream and a car boot with some tools in it and the drive to make it work. That is where Vermont Sales started. Today they are unrivalled in the industry – I challenge you, name one product off the top of your head that their competitors do… c’mon, just one… Hmmm? 

Not that easy is it, but if we say “Tork Craft”, you know exactly what colours the logo uses and even what the font looks like. 

How about Festool or Alpen or Energiser…. Olfa maybe?? AirCraft? Kreg? SawStop? And that’s just a few of the plenty of thousands of line items they bring in. 

Any thoughts on their competitors’ products yet?

Tork Craft tools for the home handyman
AirCraft air products

The year was 1985, Roland and Mindi Hunt hit the road running with a few meagre products in the boot of their car and a work ethic that is very seldom matched. Around about the same time, their fifteen-year-old son Ryan was already a star in the S.A Motocross scene with an eye to conquering the rest of the world. 

Ryan still supports local racing and competes alongside his son Reece in everything from MX to enduro and Cross Country with the occasional trip abroad to kick some MX ass. 

You know… that oke that whipped past you in the red, green and yellow Tork Craft jersey while the local Basuto lads were dragging you and your bike up the mountain at The Roof of Africa? 

Yeah, that’s him. Ryan is the driving force behind the Sales and Marketing team at Vermont Sales and can often be seen touring the streets of Gauteng in his branded van, knocking on doors and calling on dealers pretty much as his parents did 38 years ago.

He does, however occasionally take time out of his busy schedule to ride bikes

tork craft
They even do camping and outdoor gear... oh yes and gloves and vellies.
Tork Craft power tools

So, what is the secret to the Vermont success? 

We wandered down for a bit of a walk around and a tour of their facilities in Midrand, Gauteng and were literally  gobsmacked at the size of the operation and the passion behind it from absolutely every team member we bumped into. 

Where to start? Where to start…?

Need a garage solution?

I think the thing that really struck us and stands out foremost in our minds is something we really weren’t expecting to find at an Importer Distributor – and that was Vermont Sales Laboratory. 

A WHAT….? You ask. Yeah, you read that right, they have a lab on site which they basically destruction test just about every single product they supply, especially if it is from a new and relatively unknown supplier. 

The Hunts have spent 38 years building up a solid reputation in the South African market and don’t want it ruined by some substandard product, so you can be sure that if it is on the shelf at your local retailer, it is definitely worth the ticket price. 

You have got to see this place….

Pamela Chipatiso explaining how their in house designed and built hammer tester works
Doan Venter demonstrating the torque wrench test for our cameras
Jason Nkhabelane explaining how tools are tested

We have zero respect for tools here. We abuse them like belligerent, drunken gorillas and they are all 4-pound hammers and everything is a nail. Screwdrivers make great chisels, an axe can chop through concrete and so on. 

Well….  They know about idiots like us and test their products to that degree and beyond. 

They have a dust box filled with sand, concrete dust and other detritus and they chuck in drills, angle grinders and most anything else with an electric motor, switch on the air to agitate the dust and etc and then run the power tools in there for hours on end to see how long they take to break.

A few hours of abuse in the dust box and then they get pulled apart and investigated
Ben Botha. Senior product tester

All the while, keen eyed lab techs keep notes on the time, conditions, humidity and stuff you wouldn’t even begin to imagine. Then they take the tools apart and examine the wear, what broke, why it broke and how they can improve on the performance. Flip, they’ve even built a machine that can moer a hammer until it breaks and count how many times it donnered the bit of railway track before it broke and with how much force. The hardness and tensile strength of hand tools, drill bits and saw blades get put through their paces… 

Our question is though: “Have they solved the mystery of the ever-disappearing 10mm spanner and socket? 

Rawlplug also does a range of tools tool compliment their line up
tork craft
The inner working of Tork Craft power tools

The destruction team, headed by Ben Botha devises all sorts of quality tests for the product range at Vermont and if there isn’t a machine to test something he sits down with Pamela Chipatiso, Jason Nkhabelane and Doan Venter and they design and build the machines they need for the test themselves. And then subject the tools to the various forms of abuse.

Fixman hand tools.
Need something to hit something with? Need a hammer?
Tork Craft hand tools, we bet you recognise most of these from your own tool box.

The next thing that smacks you straight in the face when you walk around their Exhibition facility is the vast number of world-renowned brands that they represent in South Africa and the amount of line items in each brand they carry. 

That number is well in excess of the 12,000 mark, with over 25,000 line items.

Visit their VS Exhibition Centre in Midrand, which includes a fantastic canteen serving some great light meals and drinks, and you will be blown away like we were.

In the trade? what are you waiting for? Go see for yourself.

Book @ http://www.vsevents.co.za 

They have a solution for just about every industry requiring tools, fasteners, power tools.

You name and chances are excellent that they have it in stock; 

Accud, Action Can, Alpen, Bamax, Bernzomatic, Bondhus, D-Tech, Delrock, Drill Doctor, Energiser, Festool, Flexi-Pads… Howard, Jorgensen, Kreg… Olfa, Miles… MPS, Pro-Tech, Rawlplug, Real Steel, SawStop, Schroder… Tork Craft, Wedgit just to mention just a few.

The Great Outdoors is their latest range of products...
HOWARD Cleaners, polishes and sealers.

The Trackbox:

Ryan is always looking for new and innovative products for the motorcycle industry and his latest project is a firm favourite of ours. 

bike tools
Spouses. Pay attention. This is what we would like for Christmas. Thank you!
Tork Craft Tack Box
Tork Craft Tack Box

The Track Box is something that Ryan has developed himself.

It’s a very neat, well laid out and cleverly stocked tool box of every single tool you would need for your bike on practice or race day at the track – or for rolling repairs and set up. 

Ryan has left one or two small gaps open that you can make your own additions of special tools, bolt kits or fairing fasteners. Maybe even a bit of lube spray or contact cleaner, and from all indications the price does seem like it is going to be attractive.


Tork Craft

From a few tools in the boot of a car to one of the leading tool suppliers in South Africa in 38 short years – this really is a proudly South African story.

We’ll post a vid soon!



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