Independent dealer finds new tools, deals at AAPEX and SEMA

Bruce Henry thought he knew a lot about tools, having spent 25 years as a technician before getting into the mobile distribution business 14 years ago. But after attending his first AAPEX and SEMA shows last week in Las Vegas, Henry, who operates Mule Creek Tool Co., realizes there are a lot more tools available than he ever imagined. So despite having felt overwhelmed by the two huge shows, he plans to return next year.

Henry, an independent mobile distributor in Deming, N.M., had been planning for several years to make it to AAPEX and SEMA. This year, he and his wife, Debra, made it to Las Vegas and got a chance to see what many of their customers have been talking about. Henry came across some interesting tools which he plans to carry on his truck. He also came across some excellent deals on tools. In addition, he got a chance to meet some knowledgeable sales people who took the time to explain how some of the newer diagnostic tools work.

For Henry, his first Las Vegas tool show experience is one more step in an education that began in a big way when he first got into the mobile distribution business. “I always thought I knew a lot about tools until I took this job on,” the former repair shop owner said.

The first thing he learned as a mobile distributor is that there are a lot more manufacturers selling tools than he realized.

In his third year as a mobile dealer, he attended his first warehouse distributor trade show, which was a big learning experience. He found more tools at the distributor trade show and made good contacts. “If my customer has questions, I want to go to the show and talk to the manufacturer,” he said. One of the most important tools he came across early on was a management software program that streamlined his billing and accounting. He found it useful to attend distributor trade shows regularly.

After hearing about all the tools at AAPEX and SEMA, Henry decided he needed to see the Las Vegas exhibits for himself. The first thing that impressed him about AAPEX and SEMA this year was how huge the show floors were. “It was overwhelming,” he said. He was unable to see all the tool exhibits at either show.

At the SEMA show, he came across diesel tools from CanDo International. At AAPEX, he came across some new scan tools he wants to carry, including the Launch EasyDiag, the Autel MaxSys Pro MS908, and the OTC Encore from Bosch Diagnostics. “There were more than enough people there to tell you about it,” Henry said. “The questions I had were answered.”

Henry said it is important for a mobile distributor to be on the lookout for new tools all the time. The tool manufacturers are always coming out with better offerings. “All the time I have to keep looking for new things,” he said.

Next year, Henry will make it a point to decide which companies he wants to see and have their booth numbers. “There’s so much to see and I needed to see it all,” he said. “Now that I know how it works, it will be easier for me next year,” he said.

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