Iowa distributor finds key to hardlines

New Cornwell Tools dealer Doug Loerts already seems to have a pretty good handle on tool sales in Western Iowa and Minnesota.


New Cornwell Tools dealer Doug Loerts already seems to have a pretty good handle on tool sales in Western Iowa and Minnesota. New Cornwell Tools dealer (just under two years in service) Doug Loerts already seems to have a pretty good handle on tool sales in Western Iowa and Minnesota. Doug has already landed in the Top 20 dealers for Cornwell, and is in the Top 10 for hardline sales. Unlike many mobile distributors...


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New Cornwell Tools dealer (just under two years in service) Doug Loerts already seems to have a pretty good handle on tool sales in Western Iowa and Minnesota. Doug has already landed in the Top 20 dealers for Cornwell, and is in the Top 10 for hardline sales.

Unlike many mobile distributors though, Doug wasn’t a former tech. In fact, he’d never even been on a tool truck until a few years ago when his twin sons started their votech training and needed to get setup with tools for classes.

“Eight years ago, one went to Iowa Community College and the other became a WyoTech student, so we bought two sets of tools. At that point in time, I’d never been on a tool truck,” Doug said. “We didn’t understand what a tool truck was, and we were pretty much mind-boggled.”

Doug said that Cornwell was a big help in starting out with his limited experience not only as a dealer, but with repair tools.

“Their customer service people are top drawer. As far as I know, I call and ask a lot of stupid questions, and I’m sure the gals in the office go, ‘Oh no, it’s him again,’ ” Doug said.

While he went from boggled by to driving a tool truck, Doug used his background in sales to help with the transition. He is an agriculture program graduate with 24 years of experience at a co-op and six years of sales experience with hardscape landscaping.

All of that helps him with the heavy concentration of farm shops and implement dealers on his route. The experience with his boys going to votech helps him with the school stops. He credits a big part of his hardline success directly to the large number of ag and votech stops he has.

“I’ve got a lot of farm shops. Some farm shops are pretty big,” Doug said. “When they’re ready to buy, farmers will spend a lot of money.”

Doug does have a balanced route though, including independent auto repair, body shops, powersports, salvage yards, heavy duty, ag shops and farms, and new car dealerships. He said the diversity has helped him through the economy. He also splits his route, which has helped him expand his customer base.

SPLITTING TIME

To cover a large area of Western Iowa and parts of Minnesota, Doug expanded his original route into a two-week split.
“I started that about two months into the deal, I see twice as many guys that way,” Doug said. “Everybody’s getting pretty comfortable with the fact that if they need something, to just pick up the phone. I’ll figure out a way to get together.”

Doug has more than 1,000 customers on file, and better than 600 are active customers. He feels the split route is good for customers who seem more ready to buy every few weeks rather than every week. It helps keep with his style, and both he and customers have adapted well to the pace, he said.

“I’m pretty low pressure, and it seemed like every week was too often,” Doug said. With the split route comes an emphasis on staying consistent.

“I try and be within the same timeframe every week, so the guys know that I’m going to be there,” Doug said. “It’s gotten to the point that if I’m running late, I’ll get a phone call, ‘Are you coming today? You’re normally here by now.’ ”

If he is running behind, he doesn’t like to just miss shops since that would make it a month between stops. Instead of just missing one or two, he’ll call ahead to some lower volume shops and check if they need anything.

“If there’s something they need, I’ll swing in and take care of them. If not, I’ll catch them in two weeks,” Doug said. “They do expect contact.”

Even with the split route and the number of customers he is getting to, Doug still sees he’s not getting to everyone he can, which puts him in the position of evaluating how he might work in a new stop here or there. Expand the day? Drop a customer whose buying has dropped off?

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