Disney World in Orlando, FL employs more than 51,000 people. According to the computer in Mike O’Neill’s tool truck, about 1,000 of them are potential customers. They might use tools to fix a leaky faucet, or rebuild a bus engine, or change wheel bearings on a roller coaster, or build scenery...
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“That’s probably the biggest issue, because you don’t want to leave that one guy behind. For some I make a special arrangement to meet them somewhere. Some I have to make an every-other-week visit. It’s a constant juggle, but you just can’t give up on a customer because he may move to a big garage with 40 people, and the last thing we want is for him to bad-mouth his Mac distributor.”
The customer’s side
Compared to the planners, about 60 percent of Mike’s stops are big automotive shops. These shops service trams and other light vehicles, heavy equipment, and of course, buses. Disney World operates the largest private bus fleet in the country. Mike’s other customers work on rides and attractions and in other maintenance shops “that buy small stuff like drills, extensions, hand tools … not a lot of automotive tools.”
More than half of Mike’s business is from the cast members (as opposed to planners), and often they buy tools “for things they do off campus, like crafts.” Mike told us about selling 15 pair of safety wire pliers to someone whose wife uses a lot of braided wire for arts and crafts. He also indicated a Mac Perceptor Plus scan tool and said “I sell a lot of those too, (mostly to) guys who have their own shop outside here. Disney already has diagnostic tools in their automotive shops.”
Mike does a lot of business around Christmas time too, mostly stocking-stuffers, and even gift certificates.
Mike’s truck never leaves the campus, and in a typical 60-hour week he drives about 200 miles to see about 500 people. About 300 buy tools. “Most stops, they’re outside waiting for me. I have to limit how many get on the truck at once. A lot of times I can’t even leave the truck, so I can’t really tote-and-promote. But I don’t really have to.”
When asked what he likes most about the job, without hesitation Mike said it’s the people. “I love the interaction with customers. They’re a fun group of guys and they like seeing me show up. And being at Disney World never gets old.”
Mike has recently been promoted to DM and is in the process of training his replacement, Mike Archer. We’ll keep in touch with him to see how things progress in coming months and years.