When Danny Windings started selling tools in Carbondale, Ill., 10 years ago, he didn’t know anything about tools. He entered the business after working for a major food wholesaler warehouse, where he traveled a lot and worked long shifts Sunday through Friday. “When I started, it was just...
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“Every now and then, if there’s a guy that I’m trying to pinpoint, [I’ll bring a tool inside] and try to get him back on the truck,” Danny said. “But a lot of my guys will just come to my truck. … They’ll come out every single time because this is my store. I run my business right out here.
“One of the serious things about this business is how well you take care of your customers,” Danny said.
“The way I see it, wrenches are always going to sell, toolboxes are always going to sell, but I can get any specialty tools those guys need. Whether it’s for a GM, Chrysler, or Ford, I’ll go to any extent to find whatever they need.”
“I have a personal relationship with all these guys,” Danny said. “I know their background. … It’s like doing business with close, personal friends more than with just customers. It’s basically relationship stuff. You get to know your people, you know who to pressure, who not to pressure.”
It’s infrequent, but Danny still sees some problems crop up with payment issues.
“What I normally do is, if that customer’s having problems, I will do whatever I can to work with him,” Danny said. “Or if he’s just not making any progress at all … instead of me doing a repo, I will let him give me the stuff back. It makes it a lot better if I can talk him into giving the stuff back instead of manhandling him.”
By the numbers
Danny tries to average $10,000 in sales/$10,000 in collections per week. Last year, Danny did approximately $680,000 in sales for Cornwell Tools (and another $650,000 in capital equipment for Hunter and Challenger). Danny attributes much of his success to his Cornwell team.
“Cornwell Tools is really good to me,” Danny said. “Cornwell … is more personable.” Danny specifically cited Cornwell customer service rep Sarah Bush as a great help to his business, along with his district manager, Greg Gamble.
Keeping an eye on the industry
Danny said the demand for more auto techs in his territory is growing. Because he’s an active part of the industry, Danny looks for ways
he can help match employers and techs without alienating good customers.
He’s looking into posting a jobs/help wanted bulletin board on his truck. “If a guy’s looking to start a new job or start something up, he can do that without me trying to find somebody out of another shop,” Danny said.
It’s tough to stay sharp in an industry as demanding as mobile tool distribution, which Danny knows first-hand. He points out that prioritizing and maintaining focus helps him achieve balance in both the industry and his personal life.
“I’ve been married for 18 years and have four kids ages 15 to 4 months,” Danny said. It’s important that tool dealers keep their focus on what’s important, he said. When you’ve got a family, you need to be careful not to get too “wrapped up in the business.”
Cutting back on the clock a little probably won’t jeopardize the successful business that Danny has run for a decade and counting.
“I will probably be in this industry until I retire—unless there’s a guy with a lot of money who wants my route … and it would have to be a lot of money,” said Danny.
Even then, it is unlikely that Danny will ever slow down for good.
He indicated that selling his route would simply give him enough time for a short pause before diving into building a new route, and another successful business.