Show Me Your Truck: Leroy Hess, Mac Tools

Feb. 1, 2022
This seasoned tool dealer prioritizes a clean truck and professional attire.

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Leroy and Mike Hess made up the first multi-route at Mac Tools, and they spent many years as the flag’s number 1 two-man team. When Mike decided to retire after 30 years in the business, Leroy purchased his brother’s truck and route, transitioning the multi-route operation into one large route that Leroy runs himself. Leroy sold his 22-foot step van and now drives his brother’s former truck, a 22’ 2018 Kenworth T270.

When a customer first walks on to the truck, the first thing they see is Hess’ Mac Tools display. He has special holders that stand the tools up out of the box. He also has special drawers on tracks that pull out to display all the used tools he sells.

While most tool distributors put their toolboxes at the front of the truck, Hess puts his at the very back so that interested customers need to walk all the way through the truck.

“It’s like putting milk at the back of the store or the candy dish at the back of the truck. They go back there to get free candy but they might pick something up on the way, you never know,” he says.

When it comes to organization, he has his KNIPEX pliers in a certain section, torque wrenches on the ceiling in bungee straps, and air tools displayed standing up.

He had a special desk built into the truck and while some people may say it’s a waste of space, Hess likes it because it’s his own personal area. With the step van that he used to own, all the customers had to go through his workspace to get to the tools.

“I like the cabin chassis better because they don’t come through my workspace. I can stand behind a desk, this is my personal space, nobody comes in it,” he said.

Keep it clean

Cleanliness is of the utmost importance to Hess. He has two rugs that Cintas, a business services company, changes out once a week for him and his niece, Chelsea Hess, cleans his truck on weekends for some extra cash.

He also is very adamant on proper attire on his tool truck. He prides himself on dressing up and his standard work ensemble is dress pants (never shorts), collared shirt, and nice shoes.

“It is so simple and cheap to do, and it is amazing to me that it’s overlooked,” Hess says. “If you went to buy an expensive car, wouldn’t you expect them to be dressed up a little bit? We are selling super expensive tools.”

Hess mostly calls on automotive repair shops, heavy truck repair, car dealerships, farm equipment dealers, and farms themselves in the Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, area. Farms have been very good to Hess as they have millions of dollars of equipment and have several hundred dollars’ worth of tools to repair them. He explains that farms have been “gold mines” for him because most tool guys don’t call on farms.

“I grew up on a farm and a lot of my farm customers ask, ‘Why do you come to my shop?’ and I tell them, ‘When I lived on a farm, we would have spent thousands of dollars on tools if someone would have come to us,’” he says. “They have become very regular, valuable customers.”

Hess notes that he has a great working relationship with his Mac Tools district manager, Kevin Wendt. He says it’s important to be on the same page as your district manager, as he has been for more than 15 years.

One key to Hess’ success is that he never leaves any stone unturned.

“I live by this motto: never overlook it when a customer tells you, ‘I have a friend that has a shop at such and such a location. I always go see that person,” he says.

About the Author

Amanda Silliker

Amanda Silliker is the former editorial director of the Vehicle Repair Group at Endeavor Business Media. She oversaw five brands  — Motor Age, PTEN, Professional Distributor, ABRNand Aftermarket Business World. Prior to her tenure with Endeavor, she had over a decade in B2B publishing at Thomson Reuters, ranging from writing and editing content for print and web to managing awards programs and speaking at conferences and industry events. Connect with her on LinkedIn

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