Eric Pagliughi is new to the business. He took over his Matco Tools route in the middle of the Great Recession when another new distributor abandoned the route after only six months. Some people thought he was crazy to assume so much risk in such a bad economy, but Eric saw positive signs. The...
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Even worse, the people working there are on temporary assignment and come from all over the country. “They rotate them. They could be here for only six months. You could have a guy who owes you money and he disappears. Sometimes they don’t even know (when they’re leaving), but usually they do. I had that happen, the guy just disappeared, doesn’t answer his phone… just gone.”
Although he doesn’t know for sure, Eric thinks he has fewer skips than others. “I can count on both hands the number of guys I can’t find right now. That’s the part of the business that everyone thinks is the most frustrating, but we have a good skip program in effect with Matco…I’ve had guys pop up in Arizona and Texas that left from here and (Matco) guys found them. Eventually it’s going to come back to me, as long as the guy keeps working and buying tools.”
Not everyone in his territory is working and buying tools. Some customers who were laid off “are collecting (unemployment benefits) and getting used to it. I’ve had guys tell me they’re just going to collect for a little while. You’d think they’d be looking for a job…”
Eric doesn’t expect he’ll ever look for a job again. “I don’t have an exit plan. If you start thinking about that, you’re already on that road. I have a more positive attitude. Get up in the morning, go work, be honest and fair to the guys and it pays off. I’ll expand the route, maybe get more customers, maybe a second truck with another guy to work it.” If a man who started his business in such tough economic times can have such a bright view of the future, then maybe there’s nothing for the rest of us to worry about.
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