Tales from the road: A driven dealer

Oct. 5, 2018
Independent tool dealer Justin McCarthy is busier than ever with a full-time job and two trucks on the road.

When we last spoke to Boston-area independent tool dealer Justin McCarthy (Tales from the road, February 2015), he was busy working a full-time job as a technician and operating his tool business, Bad Larry Tools. Some things never change, it seems, and McCarthy is busier than ever with two tool trucks, a distribution van and his same full-time job.

“I’m still doing the same thing,” McCarthy says. “We have two big trucks now, and both of them are wrapped by SK [Tools]. My buddy has a van that we’re incorporating into the business also, so there’s actually three vehicles.”

These days, McCarthy has enlisted some help from family and friends.

“My oldest daughter, Amanda [McCarthy], helps me on the weekends," he says. "My niece, [Allie Flood], helps me with inventory on the weekends [and] I have a nephew that’s going to start helping me keep things organized.”

Hank O'Brien, McCarthy's neighbor, helps out by making warehouse runs, and Frank Coryat helped with fabrication, displays and general rehab of both trucks.

He adds that another longtime friend, Luis Pagan, started driving one of the tool trucks about a year-and-a-half ago. Pagan also owns a business, Linmar Textiles, which sells items such as shop rags, microfibers, gloves, PPE ear protection and safety glasses. The two product lines go hand-in hand, Pagan says.

McCarthy says the Bad Larry Tools moniker came from another friend who had planned to help with the business before its inception.

"It’s a saying in southern New England: ‘Look at that Bad Larry,’ or ‘Where is that Bad Larry?’" he explains. "A friend of mine – who since passed – used to call his tools that. We were working one time and I wrote ‘Bad Larry’ on these pliers he was always looking for."

McCarthy keeps the Bad Larry Tools trucks on the road almost daily. His shift at his regular job is from 11 PM to 7 AM. When he finishes a shift, instead of going home he actually drives a tool route in one of the trucks. He notes that the only days he doesn't drive his route are Mondays and Sundays.

As if working full-time, driving one tool route and managing another didn’t keep him busy enough, McCarthy also maintains and repairs the trucks. Plus, he’s in the midst of digitizing his inventory.

“We just got all the inventory on the computer,” McCarthy says. “By October ... there will be no more hand-written receipts. To find time to do that while I’m doing what I’m doing, it’s like a giant bowl of scrambled eggs. But I love doing it.”

Milwaukee Tool products are also keeping McCarthy busy, as he says they are selling well right now. In addition to having new offerings and reasonable pricing, Milwaukee backs their products with a five-year warranty. He notes that if a customer has a problem with a Milwaukee tool, he'll take it and have his daughter package and ship it to the company for the warranty work.

"What’s good about [Milwaukee] is that I ship it to them and they ship it back to me quick, so the [technician] isn’t without it," McCarthy says. "I do have ... loaners that I give people, if that’s the only [tool] they have.”

In addition to offering loaner tools while handling warranty claims, McCarthy sets himself apart from other tool dealers by selling Bad Larry-branded hot sauce. Being that he's located on the south shore of Massachusetts, it comes in three flavors: South Shore Hillbilly, Choochzilla and Savage Sauce.

When it comes to the future, McCarthy has an idea how his will ideally look once he (someday) retires from his full-time job.

“I’m not going to give the tool truck up,” he says. “My goal is to put a couple more trucks on [the road] in the next few years. When you retire, you can never have enough money. Especially today, everything costs so much you have to keep [an income] or you’re going to be in trouble.”

For the time being, however, McCarthy is content with all of the roles he plays and how busy they keep him.

“So far it’s been a good ride,” he says. “I don’t regret any of it.”

About the Author

David Brierley | Editor | Fleet Maintenance

David Brierley is the editor of Fleet Maintenance magazine.

Brierley’s education and career have been based in the publishing industry. He is an award-winning writer and comes from a background in automotive, trucking, and heavy equipment. Brierley joined the Endeavor Business Media vehicle repair group in 2017 as managing editor for Fleet Maintenance, PTEN, and Professional Distributor magazines, as well as VehicleServicePros.com. In his current role, he writes for and oversees production of Fleet Maintenance magazine. He has worked in the publishing industry since 2011.

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