Part I: Matco newcomer uses his own automotive aftermarket knowledge to reach customers

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 he 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.

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."

Balancing inventory

As a newcomer to mobile distribution and owning his own business, Ressler said his 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.

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."

Next: Read about Ressler's Matco Tools Expo strategies.