Truck repairs cost Manassas, Va. tool dealer big

Dealer finds he needs a contingency plan.


One thing a mobile tool dealer needs is to have a contingency plan for when a truck needs repairs. Gary Cook, a Cornwell Tools dealer serving Manassas, Va., learned that lesson the hard way in 2009 when he encountered problems with a truck which he bought new the previous year. An 11-year Cornwell...


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One thing a mobile tool dealer needs is to have a contingency plan for when a truck needs repairs. Gary Cook, a Cornwell Tools dealer serving Manassas, Va., learned that lesson the hard way in 2009 when he encountered problems with a truck which he bought new the previous year.

An 11-year Cornwell veteran, Cook had to rely on a pickup truck for nearly four months while the 22-foot truck which he purchased new in 2008 was getting repaired.

Having a truck out of commission was a new experience for Cook. He had never had such a problem in either of the two trucks he previously drove. He decided to buy a larger truck in 2008. His previous truck was 18 feet long.

The first problem he encountered was a faulty emissions system. It took weeks for the repairs.

But if that weren’t enough, a tree fell on his truck when it was parked in his driveway and destroyed its roof. His truck was back in the repair shop for several more weeks.

Had he known how long his truck was going to be out of commission, Cook said he would have rented a truck. The problem was that he didn’t know how long the repairs would take.

This experience has led him to consider investing in a trailer, as other dealers have done.

While his truck was being repaired, Cook used a pickup truck to service his accounts. He wasn’t able to carry many tools in his pickup truck, so he ended up having to make special trips to his truck to get tools for customers.

There were no impulse sales for the months Cook was without his truck, making 2009 his worst year ever since he became a mobile distributor 11 years ago. “It was the worst year I had,” he said. Up until then, the business had grown every year.

Once 2009 was over, Cook’s business resumed its growth. In 2010, he did close to $500,000 in sales and 2011 and 2012 were even better.

Cook is optimistic about 2013. The service shops in his area have inconsistent sales at the present time, but they all need to buy tools.

In addition, he loves the business. A former service technician, Cook loves the independence being a mobile distributor gives him, and he likes working with his customers, some of which have become close personal friends.

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