This is certainly what some contractors are saying, now that they have a choice between hammering in staples on their fencing jobs or using different types of staple guns which are now available. The existing STOCK-ade ST400 pneumatic gun was recently joined by the new gas-powered ST400i, which eliminates the need for dragging a compressor around. This is the new generation of product, manufactured by the global market leader in agricultural staple guns.

Recent UK market research carried out by STOCK-ade certainly indicates that while there is increasing acceptance of the benefits of staple guns generally, it is these latest cordless gas tools which are going to be winning over the largest number of hammer users. This is mainly on account of their speed, safety and ease-of-use.

STOCK-ade committed to undertake a research programme, as they wanted to understand the key drivers of the UK market for fencing installation, particularly since the uptake of staple guns is thought to be relatively low in the UK, compared to other international markets. The contractors surveyed were of varying size, ranging from one-man bands to companies employing gangs of up to ten people. Nearly 100 per cent were involved in agricultural livestock fencing, while horse fencing and forestry or deer fencing were additionally of interest to 75 per cent and 65 per cent respectively.

The big opportunity which still exists is demonstrated by the answers which came in to the headline question of the survey: “Do you own a STOCK-ade staple gun?” 50 per cent of respondents replied that they do not own one. Of those who do, 85 per cent have owned it for three years or less. The largest proportion of those (30 per cent of all respondents) own a pneumatic type with a compressor. A significant number (60 per cent) would be interested in hiring or trying out a staple gun.

This illustrates the potential which still exists in this particular market. Contractor Charlie Hubbard of J Hubbard & Son says: “We have the air-powered STOCK-ade product and we find it great, especially for the larger jobs, but I would certainly prefer the gas one, because you don’t have the compressor and the pipes and it’s just so much easier to deal with. I know that quite a lot of people are upgrading to the gas-powered product.

“Although the staples are bit more expensive for the gun, the speed that you can achieve really means it is the future. In my view it’s a no-brainer.”

Respondents to the survey quoted speeds of 800m to 1,000m per hour of fencing stapled if a gun was used, representing about an 80 per cent time saving. Speed and safety were the key factors for virtually all the respondents, with 90 per cent of purchasers saying that increased productivity was the main motivation for buying the tool. Respondents stated that the 400i enabled speeds three or four times that of hammering and that it was much faster to use than the pneumatic model as well, since the user is not encumbered by the compressor.

Nearly 70 per cent also mentioned the ergonomic benefits, stating that using a staple gun was a lot easier than hammering. This was a factor in the purchase decision for 30 per cent of respondents. This is also linked to the safety factor. Many believe that repetitive strain injuries, hammering injuries and the risks of errant staples flying around are much less likely if a staple gun is employed.

John Clayton of Professional Paddock Care says: “The days of hammering are gone. It is true that these new tools are costly to buy and to run at the moment, because of the price of the staples, but they are worth it. In time, as more and more people buy into them, I would hope that the costs will come down.”

Of those who do not own a STOCK-ade staple gun, only 10 per cent owned a different brand. About one third of these thought they could not justify the cost, while another third “preferred hammering”. There remains a perception in some quarters that staple guns are only for those who run the biggest operations. In fact many people in this industry would probably be surprised at the number of posts they install over a month. Survey respondents indicated that 60 per cent install 500 – 2,000 posts monthly, with the largest number using an average of six staples per post.

As contractors reflect on this fact and the impressive productivity increases which can be obtained using a staple gun, and in particular the gas-powered STOCK-ade ST400i, it will be no surprise if sales of these products continue to increase.