Catching up with ... Norma Girardin, Mac Tools

June 10, 2009
Mid-coast Main tool distributor Norma Girardin discusses toolbox sales, customer financing and keeping a positive attitude with a slow economy

Distributor Norma Girardin will celebrate her five-year anniversary with Mac Tools this August. She continues to use resources around her to exceed sales, even if everyone else talks about a down economy.


“The news puts that stuff in your head — get it out of your head, just keep doing your job like nothing’s going on,” said Norma. “Don’t put your blinders on, but keep doing your job.

“Because sometimes, that ‘stinkin’ thinkin’ ’ can get in there, and you do start – even though you’re not doing it on purpose – you do start not selling, thinking that people aren’t going to buy because they’re not making money like they used to or they’re afraid they’re losing their job.”

Norma’s positive attitude has helped her continue to exceed sales goals steadily each month.

“Minimum increase has been about 15 percent, and I’ve had some months where I’ve been 30 percent over last year.”

She’s even had an increase in sales for big-ticket items, like toolboxes, which she continues to move frequently. With the downturn, she’s just had to find different ways to help customers set up payments.

“Financing has been hard, I will say that. And hopefully that’s something that’s coming in the future, when things get on track again in the world,” she said. “Financing has been real hard, so a lot of us have had to try and carry some of the weight personally. That does get tricky.”

When customers can’t get financing, Norma sometimes helps out herself.

“If you can pay $100-plus a week, then we could probably do it together. Then, I’ll charge an interest,” she said. “Everybody knows that whenever they do that with me, it’s my toolbox until that very last statement is made, just like all the tools that they take. I let them use it until it’s paid for. And that seems to work OK.”


Norma still finds that focusing on and spending time with her customers helps her increase business and build relationships.

“Some people just skip along, hurry up, get the job done, in and out of the shop, trying to do a volume thing. I’m not the fastest distributor in the world, but I have a lot of business.”

Even with the increased presence of the Internet, Norma finds the competition keeps her in check, and helps her provide service for her better customers.

“I’m always going to have those customers that are looking for price. I find that the better customers are the ones that are looking for service. They’re the ones that are going to come to me for that,” said Norma. “If they purchase online, they’re not getting their service. And if they’re looking for price, chances are they’re not going to be paying their bill as well as the guys that ‘get’ the whole service part.

“They tend to be the ‘A’ customers, the ones that understand the difference between service and price.”

Now that techs are more familiar with Norma, she doesn’t have to sell as hard as she used to.

“They already know they get the best service with me. They don’t have time to go and figure out how they’re going to get this thing returned and deal with this problem, when they can call me and say, ‘this thing’s broke’ and I go fix it or replace it, and they don’t have to worry about it.”

Norma covers about 300 miles for the mid-coast of Maine each week. With a more rural route, Norma stops at some dealerships, but says she stops at many more small shops.

“(Small shops are) dealing with so many different car lines, they have to have a lot more tools than a dealership. And a dealership gets special tools that they have to buy from the manufacturer to be a dealer, so you’re not going to be selling them those things.”

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