Mac Tools energizes distributors and launches new products at 2018 fair

March 13, 2018
Tools, training and a team approach get pulses racing in Houston.

   This year’s Mac Tools Tool Fair took place at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas and the theme was “Let’s Drive.” In fact, the drive to share, learn and sell was apparent for both attendees and suppliers. Energy was high as distributors from all corners of the country gathered for face-to-face conversations, trainings sessions and to get their hands on new products and equipment.

In an exclusive interview with Professional Distributor, Mac Tools President Ken Hartman, Director of Category Management Mike Brubaker and Vice President of Marketing Robert Holmes shared their thoughts on what makes a successful Tool Fair, and the direction of the company.

But first, there have been some big changes at Mac Tools in the past few months. Ken Hartman joined as president of Mac Tools North America in December. Hartman’s first “real job” was as a mobile distributor. Remembering the early days of tool selling, Hartman said he wants Mac Tools distributors to feel confident they have a voice, and a direct line to him and the leadership team. To accomplish this, the company recently reintroduced a president’s council, and plans to implement a board featuring more distributor players from a variety of backgrounds and experience.

“The tool business is something that gets in your blood and the culture here is just so welcoming,” says Hartman. “I can’t even count how many distributors I’ve had a chance to talk to over the last couple of days, and they’ve all been extremely welcoming. They all want to share with me their ideas, which is also fantastic. But I think that’s one of the things that’s resonating -- I’m going to look at the world through their lens.”

A few years ago Mac Tools joined the Stanley Black & Decker division of global tools and storage, and the company continues to invest in additional brands; Irwin, Lennox and Craftsman brands were also seen on the floor.

“We’re going to leverage some of these products where it makes sense, and it will make our portfolio stronger. It’s exciting to see the continued investment,” says Hartman. He adds, these acquisitions are helping Mac Tools to expand its U.S.-made product offerings and set up manufacturing capabilities throughout the U.S.

“The number one thing we can do for our distributors is to develop new product,” says Hartman. Vice President of Marketing Robert Holmes says “[This year] we felt like we had a very good grasp on a good set of new products that are going to excite the end user and our distributors.”

At the close of the kick-off segment, the doors burst open from the rear of the hall directly onto the show floor. At that moment a crowd of energized mobile distributors rushed through to see and experience the new-to-market products.

There were plenty of new products at the show, including a new air impact wrench that impressed attendees with its power, looks and handling.

“We paid attention to the other great power tools we have in our line and what the customer was saying,” says Holmes. “[We took] those [suggestions] -- like lights on a cordless tool -- and put them onto an air tool that’s never had lights before.”

This year’s training events were also a hit with attendees, particularly a session on how to operate multiple routes.

“More and more of our distributors are interested in growing their businesses. They were looking to hear from other successful distributors that have done the multi-routes, so that they could pick their brains and understand some of the ins and outs, [such as] how to pay employees,” says Holmes.

Scan tool training was also well received. Mac Tools recently expanded its diagnostic line, with the launch of three new scan tools. This year’s scan tool training sessions took place directly on the show floor. The smaller groups encouraged product suppliers and distributors to engage in a more intimate look at the product.

Director of Category Management, Mike Brubaker, says Mac Tools as a company is encouraging its folks to stay focused on training, and continues to develop digital training to give distributors a clear understanding on the many product SKU features and benefits, as well as sales strategies. Distributors can take the courses as it fits their schedule. Everyone who takes a digital recurring training course throughout the year gets a chance to win autographed helmets from racecar driver Adam Morgan or Mac Tools top fuel dragster driver Doug Kalitta.

Next year’s Tool Fair will take place in Orlando, Florida, February 14-16.

See pictures from the show HERE.

Sponsored Recommendations

Garage Tip: The Value of System Solutions

Learn why inspecting related parts when repairing your vehicle can save you time and money. Avoid future failures and ensure satisfaction! Click to watch now.

Access the Best Learning Resource for Professional Mechanics

Get hands-on tips, updated repair instructions, mounting videos, failure diagnosis, and best practices for professional mechanics. Click to access essential technical info to ...

From the Basics to Innovations - Transmission Technical Training Videos

Explore Schaeffler's portfolio of transmission technical trainings for the LuK brand. Tailored for all skill levels, our modules cover basics to innovations. Click to learn more...

Clutch Release Problems - Diagnosis & Failure Analysis

Explore common clutch release problems and their causes, from hydraulic issues to mechanical faults. Understand diagnostics and solutions for optimal clutch performance.

Voice Your Opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Vehicle Service Pros, create an account today!