What makes a good tool distributor?

March 1, 2024
Being a good distributor has nothing to do with your gender, and everything to do with being there for your customers.

What makes a good tool distributor?

I’ve been writing for this magazine for about five years now, and in that time, I’ve spoken with some of this industry’s most successful distributors. They all mention many of the same things that have led them to succeed – consistently showing up for their customers, asking questions if they don’t know something, and providing their customers with the best service possible.  

As some of you may know, March is National Women’s Month, and the reason I bring that up is because if you look at the list of qualities that make a good tool distributor above, you’ll see that being a good tool distributor is not synonymous with being a male tool distributor.

I know that seems obvious, right? What does being a male or female tool distributor have to do with anything? Unfortunately, for some people, it does matter. In this month’s issue, we are celebrating all the female tool distributors out there.

Of the three women interviewed for this month, there was a common thread in their response to the question, “What is it like being a woman in this industry?” And that thread was respect. Whether they were being respected for their decision to join such a predominately male industry, receiving a lack of respect for being a woman, or knowing that to earn respect you must also be respectful.

For many women looking to join a male-dominated industry it, unfortunately, doesn’t take much effort to find doubters – people telling you why you don’t belong.

Luckily, for Cornwell Quality Tools distributor Hunter Castaneda (Tales from the Road, Pg. 42), she’s gotten great support for her decision to become a mobile tool distributor.

“I receive a lot of respect from my friends, family, customers, and even strangers on the road, for taking on such a male-dominated industry,” says Castaneda.

Sadly, Castaneda’s story isn’t every woman’s story as they begin their journey in this industry.

“Starting out was tough because nobody wanted to buy from me,” says Mac Tools distributor Staci Effertz, (Show Me Your Truck, Pg. 32), “If they would ask me something, they wouldn't believe what I was telling them. Because I’m a woman, they didn't think I knew what I was talking about.”

However, Effertz notes, you have a lot of the same customers for a long time, so she won them over by being the tool person everybody wants to go. She showed her customers the respect she expected to receive from them, and she got it in return.

Shai Moss, an independent tool distributor with Stahlwille Tools featured in this month’s cover story (Pg. 20), explains that for her, it’s about “putting out there that ‘I’m just a tool dealer who happens to be female’ versus focusing on being female.”

The women featured between the pages of this month’s issue all exude the qualities of what it means to be a good tool distributor, so please help the Professional Distributor team celebrate them and all the other women in this industry.

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