After beginning his career in the film industry, Manny Neves headed into the construction business with a mission to help modernize the industry. In 2009, he started his own company, Hardcore Renos, designing his business with a focus on continuously learning about new ideas and the latest products. Neves was an early adopter in the construction industry of social media and quickly built a reputation as a contractor who prides himself on doing things right the first time, even if it takes a little longer.
Today, Neves continues to give audiences a glimpse into life in construction by hosting a weekly podcast, The Construction Life, and reviewing products on Hardcore Reno’s Instagram. For more than 10 years, OLFA has been on his side, both on and off the jobsite.
What kind of OLFA do you use?
Lately, it’s been the new 18-mm Heavy-Duty Aluminum Utility Knife (MXP-L).
When and why did you start using OLFA knives?
Since day one! As a film tech, we had a list of tools you always needed to have on your tool belt, and one of them was a utility knife — and I’m pretty sure every person I worked with had an OLFA knife.
When I transitioned into construction, it was the same thing. I’ve got an OLFA right now in my pocket. It’s something I put in my pouch every morning, along with my screwdriver and Leatherman, so I always have what I need to get the little things done. It’s become an extension of my hand, which is exactly what you want your tool to be.
What do you use OLFA knives for?
It’s a wide gamut. You use it to open boxes of construction material, but then can use it to cut the actual material, too. You’re cutting drywall, soundproofing mats, waterproofing membranes, hard plastic, felt material, rubber, cardboard, 6-mil polyethylene sheeting, and you might even be scoring wood just to get a clean line.
How does the OLFA stack up in terms of durability?
Lately, I’ve been tiling, so I’ve been cutting the membrane, installing tile and dealing with the thinset [mortar] in between the grout line. Thinset gets on the blade, but after it’s dry, I can scrape it off with no problem at all; it’s not clogging or jamming the knife.
I like that new blades are coated and easier to clean — it makes them last. We’ve been dealing with winter weather, and even when my blade falls in the snow and gets wet, it still doesn’t rust or fail on me.
What makes OLFA your preference over other knives?
When I’ve tried competitors, the problem I find that makes me go back to OLFA is that the competitors overcomplicate their knives, and then the knives fail. They get stuck, or bent, or jam. Then you grab your OLFA, and it’s ready to use with a twist of the thumb, and it doesn’t jam or get stuck. I understand that other companies are trying to reinvent the wheel, but the wheel is doing really well.
I also like that OLFA listens to the market and follows through. I’ve noticed that even when they come out with a product that works really well, they follow it up with a product that’s even better — and that shows companies like OLFA are stepping up to ensure their products are evolving to meet customers’ needs and feedback.
Any tips you would give to somebody just starting in construction?
Don’t always look for cheapest version of your tools; look for the version that’s actually going to benefit you. When I got started in construction, I bought myself all the cheap versions of the tools I needed, and they kept failing, which was frustrating. After my first year, I phased out all the cheap tools, and started buying the more reliable and expensive tools.
If you buy a knife just because it’s half the price of another, but that knife is always sticking and causing you grief on the jobsite, think of the time you lose trying to fix your knife instead of having a more expensive, proper knife. With a better tool, you’re never losing time and productivity or getting frustrated, and you’re focusing on the work.