An overwhelming majority of Matco’s distributors turned out for the company’s annual Tool Expo, as well as suppliers and industry partners. The event, held February 10-13, gave distributors a chance to get hands-on with new tools and equipment, attend educational training sessions, learn from fellow distributors and stock up on product for the year ahead.
This year marks Matco’s 40th anniversary, and the Expo served as the company’s way to launch into a year-long celebration. The expo showcased several Matco 40th anniversary products, including a 24 karat gold-plated ratchet featuring the company’s 40th anniversary logo.
“While we’re celebrating the past, we’re mostly focused forward,” says Ben Gambrel, Matco’s Vice President of Marketing. “We have a lot of innovative things that are going to be preparing us for the changes in the industry going on around us.”
The company’s anniversary isn’t all that was celebrated at the Tool Expo. Employees that have been with Matco from the start were also recognized.
“We have many 40-year employees that we’re celebrating,” Gambrel says. “40 year distributors, 40 year employees in the Jamestown [New York] toolbox plant, in the Stow [Ohio] office and in the field. It’s a testament to the quality of the company that we have people who have been with us since the very beginning.”
Product highlights at the show included tools such as the new MaxiumusFix repair database available on the Maximus 3.0 diagnostic scan tool. MaximusFix provides technicians with vehicle-specific information and resources, as well as access to technical service bulletins, flow charts, wiring diagrams and more.
Other new products at the show included tool storage, which was displayed prominently and featured new colored toolbox emblems as well as toolbox wraps; a new line of A/C machines with single-hand door access for easier serviceability; and new brushless impacts in the company’s Infinium line of cordless power tools. In all, Gambrel says there were 180 new specialty tools introduced since last year’s Tool Expo, and all of them were on display.
Distributors were able to get hands-on in multiple ways at the Tool Expo. There were product demonstrations throughout the show floor. Attendees were invited to use one of the computers set up in the tool storage area to customize Matco toolboxes, and could also watch live demonstrations of toolboxes being wrapped with unique custom designs.
Another hands-on opportunity was a diagnostic training session. Each distributor could use a Maximus 3.0 diagnostic scan tool to follow along while instructors went through everything from basic functions of the tablet, to scan tool functions and even MaximusFix. Other educational sessions included social media, business and sales training.
“We want our distributors to be the best trained out there to help explain the value of the tools,” Gambrel says. “With a focus on education and training, we know we’re equipping our distributors for a whole year of success.”
Gambrel is pleased with show attendance, and with Matco’s performance in general. While he notes that the company has seen growth in almost every product category, diagnostics, tool storage and branded merchandise have surged the most. Gambrel attributes the company’s success to two things: product vitality and distributor support.
“We measure product vitality and really focus on that,” he says. “We define that as the percentage of products that we sell that were released in the last 12 months. We’ve been doing a good job of providing new products, and we’ve been doing a better job of equipping and training our distributors.”
When looking towards the future, Gambrel says the company has realized that tools and equipment can’t be all they offer. That’s why, with products such as the Maximus 3.0 and MaximusFix, Matco is working to provide customers with the information they need to quickly and accurately complete jobs as well.
“Our company has been around now for 40 years,” Gambrel says. “There’s something about having that balance of [being] innovative and new with a track record of stability and success. This is a great place to come build a business. We’ve got 40 years of history that shows that.”
Matco's Tool Expo 2020 is scheduled for February 23-26 in San Diego.