Matco Tools distributor Rick Ressler (right), meets with one of his customers, Joe, who recently purchased a toolbox from Rick.
Matco Tools distributor Rick Ressler has been running his route for six months. Being a new distributor, he finds he can relate to his customers because he turned wrenches for 25 years before decided to start selling tools.
"It just seemed like the right move, and it seemed like the economy was turning around, I thought it'd be good to try something new," said Ressler.
He said that his wife, Dawn Ressler, and family (children Morgan, age 12 and Evan, age 9) have been very supportive to help him get his business started.
Ressler, who runs his suburban route in and around Elk River, Minn., about 45 miles northwest of the Twin Cities, finds advantages to his professional past, because he can relate to his customers on issues they're having with different vehicles.
"I know what they're talking about," he said. "I've been in some of their frustrating positions myself, so I think it does help me get a little bit of an edge in there. And they know that I've dealt with some of their issues."
As a newcomer to mobile distribution and owning his own business, Ressler said he's biggest challenge so far is keeping control of his inventory.
"Just like a mechanic wants all the tools in his box to get the car fixed, I want to have every tool on here for that mechanic," said Ressler.
Instead of stocking his truck with every tool possible, he tries to have the right mix of tools for customers that may need something immediately, but tries to find a balance.
I'll walk into shops, and they'll ask 'Do you have this tool?' When I have it, by gosh I'll go out there and grab it, and it's great because they'll get that car fixed," said Ressler. "You want to have enough for everybody, but you can't because you have to watch your dollar amount. Otherwise, you're going to sink."
Tool expo strategies
Many distributors use toting and promoting to show off tools to customers, and Ressler is no different. However, he does implement some different strategies on what tools to bring into the shop.
"Sometimes it's the basic things you've got to bring into the shop, because they wear out and they get lost. It's not always the latest and greatest tool," said Ressler. "Sometimes you've got to go back and bring something that was a great, popular tool, even a few years ago."
To find tha balance of controlling his inventory and showing off new tools, Ressler employs a strategy for both that he used after seeing new products at the Matco Tool Expo in San Diego this past February.
"What I liked, I brought back one of, because I knew I didn't have enough money to bring back everything that I wanted."
Ressler's district manager, Adam Blair, advised Rick to choose a few key items to bring back for his customers, instead of purchasing everything he liked.
"I wanted to buy a whole bunch of stuff and bring it back. But he said, because I'm a newcomer I should concentrate on a few things."
Ressler would show off and give tool demonstrations for the one tool he purchased at the expo to his customers.
"I toted that (tool) around and said, 'Hey guys, this is what I found when I was in San Diego. I really like this tool, and this is how it works."
Ressler then took orders for customers who were interested in having a tool of their own.
In particular, he found success with a Cal-Van Master Brake Flaring Tool Kit he found at the show.
"Everybody has a brake flaring tool in their box, of the older style, and that works," said Ressler. "But this updated version is a no-brainer.
"I showed the guys how to use it. I had good luck with it."
Ressler said this tool was an update for some techs' toolboxes, and also a lighter weight tool to complement the hydraulic version that some shops already had. Overall, Ressler said he sold about 17 of the product by using the one demonstration tool he purchased at the Matco Tool Expo.
"Next year, I”m going to do some more homeowrk and try to bring even more stuff back for these guys to help them out out here," said Ressler.