Industrial-Sized Selling Opportunities

Ways to tap into the industrial marketplace.

Mobile tool sellers typically fall into one of two categories. There are long-term business owners who are comfortable with their existing roster of customers: With a proven track record for selling and collecting roughly the same amount each week, they can navigate the route with their eyes closed.

They are the owners who passed the living-paycheck-to-paycheck level years ago.

And then there are the owners who are new to the tool selling business. While they are dedicated, have operated their mobile business long enough to overcome the jitters, know the shortcuts around their route and earn a steady dollar, they occasionally have to tap into savings or implement minor cutbacks to coast through the slow times.

Although both categories of tool sellers work hard, and don’t mind the long hours necessary to build and sustain a mobile business, having access to a sufficient pool of customers is critical.

Serving tool customers in the industrial sector has not historically been a profitable market, according to industry observers. But this often overlooked group of buyers—many of whom also work in the agriculture, municipality or aviation fields—offers a wealth of opportunities.

Specifically, this particular sector of mechanics is responsible for the repair, installation, adjustment or maintenance of industrial production and processing machinery, or refinery and pipeline distribution systems.

As a result, qualified mechanics who know how to operate and repair machinery in sectors related to major construction, maintenance, millwork, oil refineries, power-generating plants, food-processing facilities, heating, air conditioning, refrigeration and elevators—just to name a few—are critical to industrial growth and sustainability.

Add to that the surge in residential and commercial development, coupled with the need for repairs in hurricane-devastated regions, which both drive the demand for renovation and expansion—therefore mechanics.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, roughly 1.3 million workers are employed as maintenance and repair mechanics earning an average of $32,650 annually. They perform work involving the “skills of two or more maintenance or craft occupations to keep machines, mechanical equipment or the structure of an establishment in repair.”

Duties can include pipe-fitting; boiler making; insulating; welding; machining; carpentry; repairing electrical or mechanical equipment; installing, aligning and balancing new equipment; or repairing buildings, floors and stairs.

The real estate, local government, municipality, travel accommodation and public school systems offer the highest level of employment in this sector, according to industry leaders, who add that top-paying sectors for industrial mechanics include telecommunications (with average earnings of $51,500 annually), air transportation ($51,000 annually) and support activities for water transportation ($49,000 annually).

Although the highest concentration of workers is in South Carolina, Louisiana, Indiana, Alaska and Wyoming, this field employs mechanics in every state.

More than 270,000 mechanics work in the heating, air conditioning and refrigeration sector, earning an average of $38,000 annually. In addition to installation, repair and maintenance responsibilities, mechanics can also be in charge of oil burners, hot-air furnaces and heating stoves.

Analysts anticipate job growth in the heating and cooling industry to remain strong through 2015.

The top-paying industries for heating and air conditioning repair personnel include computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing, which can earn mechanics an average of $57,000 annually; aerospace product and parts manufacturing; power generation and supply; motor vehicle parts manufacturing; and wired telecommunications service, which can earn mechanics in the mid-$50,000 range annually.

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