Raleigh, N.C. distributor survives cancer; finds supporting charity makes good business

It all started back in 2001 when then mechanic, now Matco dealer, Doug Simms won a 50-50 contest for $290 at a charity event for a girl with cancer. Something prompted him to donate the money back to the charity. Since then, Simms has been bit by the charity bug.

"I just did it because I wanted to," he said. "And it felt good, so I've continued to do it."

After surviving cancer in 1996 and moving back to North Carolina in 2001, he initially became involved in local charity drives just to get more involved. Then in 2007 when the GM flat rate system started cutting into his income, he left 21 years of being a dealership technician to become the only Matco Tools distributor in his area. 

In a route that spans 600 miles, that's a lot of ground to cover. It is also includes a lot of different people who are his customer base, whose trust is crucial for business.

"You just treat people right, and they come back to you. It worked as a mechanic for getting customers back to the dealer and side jobs, and it works as a tool guy," Simms observes.

So, he made a point of becoming increasing involved in charity in 2007, when he started up with Matco. Simms' most consistent involvement is with "Relay for Life," which is part of the American Cancer Society. They hold fundraisers at everything from barbeques and antique auto shows. When Simms is not showing off his restored 1967 Chevy Camaro at "Relay for Life" antique auto shows, he's giving away prizes for their raffles.

"A service cart, No. SP8230, screwdrivers and Matco hats and gloves are the main giveaways," explained Simms. "I've been doing the cart every April for five years." 

Another charity that he helps out is Toys for Tots. Simms takes donations onboard his truck, which not only helps raise a lot for a charity because he has so many customers, it also helps close tool sales. Customers happen to set their eyes on tools they need and getting customers into his truck to do just that is a big part of his business model. Simms often has punchboards and games on the truck, so that his customers might see tools that they are interested in and purchase from him instead of someone else.

Simms' community involvement has both increased the awareness of his brand in the community and also helped out with a good cause. "You want to do to others what they do to you," Simms preaches. In this case, doing the right thing is not only good for one's soul, it is also good for business.