Sun, Sand, Surf Help Matco Tools Begin Year

Although Mother Nature did her best to scuttle the Matco Tools' 2007 Expo by stranding a number of distributors en route to the Honolulu location in late February, the company was able to forge ahead with a significant amount of mobile tool dealers on hand from day one. And the majority of the stranded distributors did make it in, if late, for the expo.

What the mobile distributors found when they got in were opportunities to relax, training to improve their business and new and exclusive tools to add interest on their trucks.

The event kicked off with an evangelical-style motivational look at the business (reminiscent of the Triple Rock chapel scene in "The Blues Brothers" movie) that included video interviews with top Matco dealers, inspiration for the year ahead and award recognition for the year past.

At the kick-off event, it also was revealed that Matco recently placed highly among franchise opportunities in Entrepreneur magazine's annual "Franchise 500" rankings for 2007. Rankings for the company included No. 24 franchise overall, No. 1 among tool distribution franchises, No.3 home-based franchise, and No. 29 among America's top global franchises.

Time for training

After golfing, swimming, surfing, snorkeling, etc., there was some business for Matco's dealers to attend to, from training sessions to walking the tool show floor.

Training included several sessions updating dealers on Matco's toolbox line for 2007, from new features vs. the competition, to education on better selling of the boxes to customers. Other sessions focused on the finer points and values of diagnostics tools, and reviews of the hardline tools.

In addition to toolbox and diagnostic tools training, dealers received instruction on better marketing of their products, including using promotions and contests, upselling and more. And, for after the toolboxes (or any equipment) get in the hands of the repair techs and shop owners, there was plenty of training offered to help dealers improve collection techniques.

Tool boxes

One big push for Matco in 2007 was obvious in the toolboxes. In addition to dominating one whole wall of the show floor, several models of boxes were placed throughout the show floor centered in aisles. Large signage helped dealers identify customers, from novice to expert, and which setups the typical techs among those groups are likely to want and need. There also was a focus on keeping customers in Matco's boxes showing setups those novice techs can trade up to as they advance.

I didn't see any of the "Ghost Rider" themed toolboxes on the show floor (as displayed in the March sales flyers), but did see examples of many other rollaways, wide and max full lockers, hutches and more. There was more than one of the MSC12 Master Service Rollaway Cart, which Matco has dubbed "The Cadillac of Rollaway Carts." This unit appears to be a great starter piece, with three drawers, top and bottom storage areas (top storage revealed beneath sliding lids), and the ability to accept add-ons as needed.

Exclusive tools

In addition to the selection of toolboxes, Matco's mobile dealers were exposed to more than 150 new products at the tool fair, and more than 80 were exclusive to Matco. Among these were tool holder and storage items, many hardline items from wrenches to pliers and more, power tools, diagnostics, shop equipment and service and safety equipment.

There was so much new product to look at and evaluate, that even one of Matco's TV partners, "Horsepower TV," sent its hosts to look at everything. The cable TV show covers some repairs and restorations, but mainly engine modifications, and hosts Mike Galley and Joe Elmore were onsite filming to let their cable audience know about what's coming out for Matco. Watch the listings on Spike for more from "Horsepower TV" about Matco tools and the 2007 expo (

Keep your eyes open next year (in Orlando) for more new and exclusives from Matco at the 2008 Expo, and be sure to keep tabs on where they land in Entrepreneur's next rankings. For more details on Matco, visit