Tales from the Road: A helping hand

Florida-based independent distributor Bruce McIntyre had help from a friend starting out, and he continues to pay that good fortune forward.

“I'm a part of USA Tools, but I actually own my part of USA Tools,” McIntyre says.
“I'm a part of USA Tools, but I actually own my part of USA Tools,” McIntyre says.

Bruce McIntyre was working in the paint and body business at a shop that serviced high-end cars when he decided to become his own boss. He wanted to run his own business, and being a tool distributor seemed like the right path, but he didn’t quite have enough capital to get started.

In stepped McIntyre’s tool distributor at the time, Ken DePies, and his son, Paul, who saw success in McIntyre’s future. Paul decided to back McIntyre and gave him a running start into the tool business.

McIntyre explains, “Paul called our wholesaler that we were using pretty exclusively then, and said, ‘Hey man, give this guy the tools he needs to get his business going, and I'll back him... Don't worry about it. If he doesn’t pay the bill, I’ve got it.’”

Twenty years later McIntyre is still running a successful business in the Brandon, Florida, area, and is still friends with both DePies. The elder DePies founded USA Tools, and that is the name on the side of all three of McIntyre’s trucks.

“I'm a part of USA Tools, but I actually own my part of USA Tools,” he says.

McIntyre drives one of the trucks once a week to a nearby vo-tech school. The rest of the week he keeps busy going on ride-alongs with his two full-time distributors, dealing with the wholesale companies and managing other aspects of running the business.

Always thankful that someone took a chance on him 20 years ago, McIntyre pays that good fortune forward by helping his distributors. When he brings a new distributor onboard, he rides with them for the first two months teaching them how to sell products, talk to customers and deal with problems.

"I'll give you everything you need to be successful,” he tells them.

In addition to properly training his distributors, McIntyre keeps his fleet looking impeccable. “I take great pride in my business,” he says, adding that he keeps his trucks well-stocked and looking like new. The trucks are always painted and wrapped, and vacuumed out every night, he says. There is also an expectation that distributors have product set up on display before getting to their stops.

“I want the trucks clean,” McIntyre says. “That's part of being successful. It's a combination of a lot of little things, and when you take care of all of those, you become successful.”

As he gets closer to retirement age, McIntyre says he’s glad to be able to slow down a bit and not have to be on the truck every day of the week.

“If I decide I want to take a half a day off and go play golf or something, I do that,” he says. “It's actually a nice mixture for [me]. I'm in a good spot right now.”

With a successful business in full operation, McIntyre remains thankful to his friend who took a chance on him. He notes that even after 20 years, whenever he sees Paul he still thanks him for his help in getting the enterprise going.

“Sometimes it takes somebody to have a little faith in you, to take you by the hand and help you,” he says.

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