The people behind www.tooldeal.com think they've found a niche that the larger online auction sites such as eBay can't properly serve- the trades professional. More than just a site for hand tools, instruments and supplies are also offered for contractors, electricians, hvacr technicians and more.

It's a market that has been under-served until now by eBay and many of the other online auction houses, said Tooldeal.com CEO Patrick Norton. "What's really different is that we are concentrating on the trades (industry)," Norton said.

eBay has become one of the most successful (and profitable) Internet sites ever by putting buyers and sellers together and creating the world's largest online auction house. At www.eBay.com, a visitor enters a description of what he or she is looking for and a list of items fitting the description is provided. Millions of people visit the site daily. The Internet is also home to a number of similar online auction houses.

And while eBay has a large section of its web site devoted to tools, Norton thinks hvac technicians, plumbers, contractors and other such professionals will turn to his site first. "We plan on organizing the used equipment and supplies market around the country using the Internet so that all trades professionals can take full advantage of the bargains that are out there," he said.

As an added incentive, the site offers free registration and does not charge a fee for listing an item. eBay charges up to $2 to list an item. Currently, Tooldeal is not charging a commission on items sold, so the service is completely free. eBay makes from 1.5% to 5% on any item sold on its site.

Tooldeal is owned by Hauppauge, N.Y.-based Construction Book Express. Norton said they plan on maintaining the high quality of service at Tooldeal that Construction Book Express customers have come to expect.

So far, company officials say they are pleased with the results. Since launching in February, the site has more than 6,000 registered users and more than 50,000 unique users - different individuals who visit a site within a specific time period. "We were very surprised that so many people were looking for this type of service," Norton said.

Future plans include offering advice as well as a directory of retailers. It is hoped that the site will help mom-and-pop hardware stores compete with the so-called "big box" home improvement chains such as Lowe's and Home Depot by providing a way for independent retailers to buy other stores' excess inventories at a savings.



Hvacr professionals or anyone interested in geothermal heat technology will be able to find out more about the system during an international teleconference Nov. 15 hosted by the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium. The topic for the conference is "Bringing Efficiency to State, County and Municipal Buildings." For the first time, the conference will also be simulcast on the Internet at www.geoexchange.com.

Geothermal heat technology has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as one of the most efficient heating and cooling systems available today. The system uses the earth temperature as a constant to send heat to or draw heat from, depending on whether the system is heating or cooling. A long series of pipes placed in the ground makes the system possible. Studies show that the energy bills for buildings with geothermal systems can be up to 60% less than those of buildings with conventional systems.

Richard Trethewey of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) tv show "This Old House," will host the teleconference. From 12:30-2:30 p.m. Eastern, state and local facilities that use Geothermal systems will be profiled. The signal will be beamed via satellite to select locations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. A panel of geothermal experts, including state and local officials, contractors and system designers will discuss applications for the technology. A question-and-answer session will conclude the event.

For more information on the teleconference, call 703-920-1234 or visit the consortium's web site.



Steril-Aire has unveiled its new web site, www.steril-aire-usa.com. The expanded web site gives information about the company's patented devices for removing pollutants from the air. In addition to product information, it also contains technical details, customer testimonials, answers to frequently asked questions and guidelines for the use of Steril-Aire products in heath care, educational, residential, industrial, commercial and other applications. A worldwide distributor listing is included.



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