Tales from the Road: Landing the big sale

Dec. 1, 2023
This Cornwell tool distributor secured a large toolbox order within his first year on the job.

Rick Gardner started working in the automotive industry over 25 years ago. First, working at a shop changing oil while in high school. From then on, he quickly found himself working his way through almost every position possible, including a full-time technician, service advisor, service manager, and store manager to even a multi-location manager.

After the height of COVID-19, Gardner wanted to get away from all the stress of overseeing other workers across several departments and wanted to focus his energy on growing his own business.

So, he made the switch to selling tools as a Cornwell Quality Tools distributor and saying he’s doing well would be an understatement.

The sale of the year

Within his first year, Gardner came across an opportunity that every tool dealer dreams of. He was asked to outfit an entire dealership with modular toolboxes and service carts.

“The owner came to me and asked what kind of deal we could do,” Gardner says. Needless to say, he landed the gig.

Gardner ended up selling the shop seven 84” Platinum cabinets, seven 84” Platinum canopies, eight Platinum lockers, and seven service carts, all the same color.

“It was crazy,” he said. “It was very rewarding to have a company put their trust in myself. With all the other options out there, it was surreal they chose me, being the new tool guy and all.”

Standing out

Although his customers may say it’s his energy that makes him stand out, Gardner would say it’s his work ethic to always stay on schedule — and that he likes to have fun.

“I like to have a joke of the week,” he says, noting that he doesn’t like when it goes quiet on his truck. “I like to have an edgy joke that I can tell customers that kind of breaks attention and gets them more comfortable to open up.”

He also enjoys getting to know his customers and having a one-on-one relationship with them. In fact, it’s his favorite thing about the business.

“You can’t judge a book by its cover,” he says.

When he first started out, he had a customer comment that he’s just going to be like all the other tool dealers and not listen to what he wants. After hearing that, he makes sure to not only get to know every customer personally, but also to ask them additional questions to ensure he understands what exactly they need.

“I always try to ask extra questions and investigate what the customer is really looking for,” he notes.

Future plans

For this mobile tool dealer serving Stearns Country, Minnesota, his future is fairly simple.

Gardner plans to “keep trucking” and grow his customer base by continuing to “do what I’m doing.” 

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