Gasoline prices have been trending downward in the last few weeks, a development that most mobile tool distributors welcome for obvious reasons. But Jim Koenig, a Mac Tools distributor in Cheyenne, Wyo., would prefer the opposite. That’s because a good chunk of his customers in southeastern Wyoming are in the oil business.
“It (the tool business) is up and down with the price of oil,” said Koenig, who has seen his sales fluctuate four times this year, driven by changing oil prices. Koenig’s 300 or so customers include a large number of companies that work on trucks and trailers that haul oil.
Koenig worked for 20 years in sales for Snap-on’s industrial division selling tools to the Air Force, coal mines, power plants and schools, before becoming a Mac Tools distributor one year ago. He explained that a lot of oil drillers have repair facilities in southeastern Wyoming since it is conveniently located for them. The Cheyenne area has a lot of available talent for these companies and the trucks can get to the oil fields in the western and central part of the state in a matter of hours.
The repair shops do a lot of break work, clutch work, windshield work on the semis and trailers.
When oil prices are falling, as they have of late, the technicians in the repair facilities are less secure about their jobs and hence, Koenig noted, less inclined to spend money. “They don’t know if they’re going to have a job week to week,” he noted.
The oil companies comprise about 25 percent of Koenig’s customers, but they are the larger customers and represent a bigger portion of his total sales. He spends as long as four hours at some of these stops.
The oil companies also employ a lot of mobile technicians. “I might catch them at the shop once in a while,” Koenig noted.
While the business has its challenges, Koenig is glad he made the switch to being a mobile distributor. He enjoys the interaction with the service techs, whom he described as being a very colorful group of people.