Texas Independence: Newcomer carries the torch in a changing economy

In two and half years, this largely self-taught Texan has a promising future in tool sales

Clint Maxwell, right, gives an Ingersoll Rand air hammer to a customer at a shop that services oil tankers. Clint Maxwell never planned to be in business for himself. As a young man, he had aspirations to be an engineer or an architect. But while attending the University of Texas in Arlington, he realized he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. Fast forward to today, and the 35-year-old Maxwell has...

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For those who skip, Maxwell follows a plan. If someone owes him money and doesn’t return phone calls or emails, he visits them at home. He gets home addresses from drivers’ licenses, which he requires of all customers.

He also uses social media to find information about delinquent payers. “Facebook has been valuable because people put so much information on it,” he says. ”People put all their information out there on the street.”

“The easiest way to make sure you get paid is call their mother,” he says. “Guys don’t want to look bad, especially to their mother.”

He also visits spouses at work to pass the message along. “No one (spouse) wants to be married to a loser,” he says.

Maxwell says it’s important not to invest too much emotional energy in skips. “You do your best to chase them down, but you don’t get consumed by it,” he says. “It will eat you.” This, in turn, will affect how you treat other customers.


Outlook positive

Maxwell is optimistic about the future of his business. One reason is the tool manufacturers keep coming up with new and better products.

He recently learned that metric tools are popular with some customers. He has noticed that a lot of his technician customers need specialty tools for work they do around the house and in their own garage. “They have ‘standards’ at work and metrics at home,” he notes.

He has also noticed that diagnostic tools have become popular as of late, as have cordless hand tools with longer-lasting batteries.

One of the things he likes best about the job is there is always something new to learn. “Cars change and technicians change,” he says.

While the market is still challenging because of the recession, Texas has fared better than most regions, largely on account of the energy industry. Some of Maxwell’s best accounts are shops that service oil and gas fields.

He is also grateful to have a supportive wife, both morally and financially. His wife recently took a job as a full-time nurse, allowing Maxwell to pay more of his debt.

He has already paid off about half of his business debt. He next hopes to buy a new truck and install ISN business software. With more tools to display and automated business management, he thinks he will be able to increase his sales significantly.

Looking to the future, he would like to see independent distributors pool their resources for buying and warehousing.

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