In a business where rapid turnover is expected, independent mobile distributor Lynn Bazile stands out. Not only has he been an independent tool distributor serving the tri-county area around Orlando since 1990, but prior to that he had been a stand-out distributor and field manager for a branded truck for a decade in the Jacksonville area.
Lynn’s Orlando area covers a general boom market, where the theme parks are always growing, and Daytona and all its attractions and events are only 40 minutes away.
“It’s always been a pretty boom area,” Lynn said. And that helps the local economy.
“More than tax returns, we’ve got the Daytona 500 … spring break and all that influx of money, so it’s really busy,” Lynn said. “As far as the (U.S.) economy being slow—some of the shops are slow. But they’re still buying real well, if you’re a little bit more creative on your sales.”
Lynn feels the growth potential, not for a geographic area but for independent mobile dealers in general, is huge.
“It’s a great business. Unbelievable,” Lynn said. “There are no boundaries as far as growing your business. … The biggest problem is there are not enough hours in a day to keep it all going.”
Lynn sees the tool business in a more open light than many, with experience as a branded dealer, field manager and nearly 20 years as an independent. He also was a shop owner and mechanic prior to selling tools.
He was driven to the mobile dealer business by a “really bad” mobile that serviced his shop in the late 1970s.
“I asked, ‘What kind of money are you making?,’ and he said, ‘$60,000,’ ” Lynn said. I told him he must be kidding, and I convinced him to let me ride with him for a day.
“He picked me up at 9:30 a.m., we were done by 3 p.m. … I checked him out and he did make that kind of money. And I knew I could do it 10-times better than him.”
So Lynn and his wife, Ann, and the family packed it in on a new home and strong business in Wisconsin and moved to Florida for Lynn to begin selling tools.
He was right about outselling the distributor he knew. As a dealer newsletter from his brand at the time states, he was the 1980 rookie of the year in sales at $342,552 (which is roughly equivalent to $860,000 in 2008 money).
From there, he became a field manager for most of the 1980s, troubleshooting other distributors’ businesses before going back out on the road as an independent. His best advice today still relates to that bad dealer he had when he was a shop owner.
“The biggest thing about being an independent is having excellent time-management skills,” Lynn said. “You really, really have to work on that. … I’m in and out of the shops fast. You get so spread out and you get people in the books … time-management skills and running your business properly are key.”
Lynn must have his time management in check, as he has nearly 900 customers to see every week, and just shy of 500 that are carrying balances. Couple that with weekly collections in the area of $14,000 and it’s obvious Lynn knows this business front to back.
“The biggest thing is you need to learn how to ask for money,” Lynn said. “You have to know how to do it without offending somebody. It’s something you develop.
“The other thing I really concentrate on is profit margin,” Lynn said. “I concentrate on collections—cash flow and margin is very important. … That’s something that you have to concentrate on at all times.”
Lynn targets his profit margin at 45 percent, that way “I end up with 39- to 40-percent profit. … We don’t charge these guys any interest, so you have to make money.