A balanced approach

Matco Tools rookie distributor Mike Pridgeon’s success is based on balance and life experience.


Matco Tools rookie distributor Mike Pridgeon’s success is based on balance and life experience. You get the feeling after spending time with Matco Tools distributor Mike Pridgeon that he will be successful in whatever he puts his mind to. In fact, the San Diego area distributor has already been successful at much that he’s done, whether it be freelance photography, motorcycle racing, golfing...


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You get the feeling after spending time with Matco Tools distributor Mike Pridgeon that he will be successful in whatever he puts his mind to. In fact, the San Diego area distributor has already been successful at much that he’s done, whether it be freelance photography, motorcycle racing, golfing or running his own repair shop.

It’s that wealth of experience that helps him relate to his customers, wherever their outside interests might lie. Though he’s been a distributor for just a year, he pulled a solid number in 2008 with above $300,000 in sales (above even his own first-year goal), and has set his goals for the next two years to continue to increase that.

Mike said that being a shop owner for nearly 20 years has helped him develop his truck and sales style around the good examples that came into his shop. He started wrenching in his early teens at his dad’s shop. In fact, he had a Snap-on truck account before he had a driver’s license.

Though the learning curve was short for Mike, he did find some things that surprised him in becoming a distributor.

“It is a bit of a ball-and-chain … You don’t work, you don’t get paid,” he said. “With the other business that I had, I had a little bit more freedom.” The freedom came from being able to stay away from the shop on occasion and still have income. There’s no comparison, though, in working for yourself with no employees, he said.

EASY DOES IT

One important lesson he learned in his own shop experience was taking a different approach with a tech behind on payments, which is beneficial in several ways. Mike gave the example of one distributor who he banned from his shop for hassling a tech who fell behind by one payment. Shouting ensued and the whole workday was then disrupted in the shop, at least for that one tech.

“How would you like that angry tech working on your wife’s brake job, or doing a tune-up?” Mike asked. And how does that make you look in the shop? Will those techs be more or less likely to buy from you in the future, and know they risk the same treatment for one bank error or bounced check?

Isn’t it better to be respected in the shop for being a level distributor, willing to work with a tech within reason? Ugly incidents are never isolated, even within one shop. Pretty soon techs all along your route will have heard about a fight or yelling match and re-evaluate their buying habits on your truck.

Instead, Mike said, do your best to get in with the boss of the shop (whether it’s the owner, foreman or a lead tech). If you and the shop’s lead dog are on the same page, many times the other techs are following suit from him whether it’s socket sets, screwdrivers or toolboxes.

“Everybody kind of follows suit of the boss … that’s why I really focus on the bosses when I go into these shops. I talk to those guys before I talk to anybody, nine times out of 10,” Mike said. “You get him on your side, and he will speak highly of you at that shop.

“The opposite will happen if you don’t get in his favor … you’re going to have a hard time breaking into that shop.”

STRIKE A BALANCE

Like a yogi, Mike does have his work and life broken down to a single, all-important mantra: Balance.

Without it, he said, everything falls apart. With it, you can achieve anything.

“With everything in life, in a single word, Balance,” he said.

“And if you don’t have balance, you’ll hear about it from every end. Balance at home, balance your checkbook, balance with your diet.

“Everything in life is about balance, even engines. If you don’t balance a race engine, or a motorcycle engine, it’s going to shake like a paint mixer. But that’s the same thing with life in general. … Balance is the one thing that I try to make sure I have, and my wife tells me when my balance is off. ‘You’re spending too much time at work.’ Or, ‘Don’t you have to go to work today? You’re bugging me, just go!’ ”

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