A Healthy Obsession

Matt Scharping's work ethic, attitude and drive have produced company-leading results from what was once a failing route.


Matt Scharping is admittedly obsessive, hates to lose and says he'll do whatever it takes to be successful. He also rarely stops smiling, loves his job and tackles it with a passion fueled by providing everything he can for his wife and children. It sounds like two different people, but these...


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Matt Scharping is admittedly obsessive, hates to lose and says he'll do whatever it takes to be successful. He also rarely stops smiling, loves his job and tackles it with a passion fueled by providing everything he can for his wife and children. It sounds like two different people, but these characteristics combine to form what Scharping hopes is the "total toolman".

The former dealership service manager and Sprint Car racer initially got into the business by taking over for a retiring Mac dealer. He then switched to Cornwell, and after about 18 months made another move, to district manager. "I was looking for more freedom," explains Scharping.

But after a year of supporting dealers throughout Minnesota and Iowa, he realized the demands of the DM job did very little to lighten his workload. So to balance his personal and professional goals, Scharping came back to where it all started, personally and professionally.

"I got back on the truck in June of 2003. It was a route that another guy had recently quit in and around Arlington, MN, which is where I grew up and now live," he explains.

Despite spotting his fellow dealers six months of selling time, Scharping finished 29th in national sales for 2003. He followed that up with a second place finish in 2004, and using a goal-oriented plan and unmatched work ethic, Scharping grabbed the top spot as Cornwell's leading seller in 2005. "And I even took two weeks of vacation," he adds with a smile.

"Look What I Get To Do"

"A lot of the tool business is mental," states Scharping, when asked about the secrets of his success. "While some people wake up and say, 'I have to go to work today', I look at it like, 'I get to go to work today'.

"Attitude is so important in this business. And so is work ethic. Everything else can be taught." Attitude and work ethic have proven to be the cornerstones of Scharping's success, with both being crucial in meeting the demands and expectations he's placed on the business.

"Being satisfied leads to boredom, because there's nothing left to strive for. That's why I'm continually setting goals and forming plans for reaching them. This year I wanted to hit a certain dollar amount in total sales, so I broke things down to see what I needed to do every day, week and month for that to happen," he explains.

Combating boredom isn't difficult when you examine the parameters of Scharping's weekly route:

  • 500 customers, about 10 of which he sees twice a week.
  • Days that can start as early as 7:00 a.m. and stretch as late as 11:00 p.m.
  • He relies on his 22' International to take him as far as 60 miles outside of Arlington, which is about 45 minutes southwest of the Twin Cities.
  • In addition to traditional automotive repair shops, Scharping also hits a garbage truck fleet, a race shop and several farm equipment repair facilities.
  • Additionally, he owns a landscaping business. He says working there on the weekend helps take his mind off the tool business.

"Some people think I'm crazy to have a route this size and then carry the additional demands of a landscaping business, but this is the way I was raised," states Scharping. "My dad was a farmer who also worked a full-time job. So when he got home from work, I knew I'd better be starting my chores. That's just the way it was and that's what I know."

Dad would be proud. In addition to his record-setting sales numbers, Scharping's work ethic has also produced:

  • A relationship with Hennepin Technical College in nearby Eden Prairie, which generated six-figure sales at the beginning of the 2005 school year. "Votech takes some cultivating and extra service after the sale, but if you're willing to invest the time and accept the risk of setting up truck accounts for students, the rewards are great," he states.
  • A gaudy $48 average weekly payment, which balloons up to as much as $150 for open/shop accounts.
  • A 6-1/2-week turn on all sales.
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