Tales from the road: From sharpshooter to tool dealer

Nigel Clarke, previously a professional shotgun competitor, is now a family-driven tool dealer.

Clarke made Mac Tools’ President’s Club for overall purchases in the U.S. for both 2017 and 2018.
Clarke made Mac Tools’ President’s Club for overall purchases in the U.S. for both 2017 and 2018.

Nigel Clarke of Fleming Island, Florida, has been a Mac Tools dealer for nearly seven years. He first started selling Mac Tools in 2013 for Big Boy Tools, a tool company comprised of five tool distributors in and around Virginia Beach, Virginia. Just under four years in, Clarke decided to branch off and start his own route in Jacksonville, Florida.

His route now covers part of Northeast Florida, from Jacksonville to Orange Park, Fleming Island, and Green Cove Springs. Most dealerships he serves are independents; however, his biggest dealership and customer is General RV, a national RV dealer.

Prior to becoming a tool dealer, Clarke was a competitive shotgun shooter and traveled around the country taking part in professional competitions. All the traveling meant he was away from his wife and family, so he decided to look for a career that would bring him home to be with them. Becoming a tool distributor was a great fit.

“[Starting my own route] had its challenges, but it has been rewarding for our family … being able to have a business that we can set up and run as our own and make our own schedule," Clarke says. "It went extremely well the first year; we set some impressive numbers.” In fact, Clarke made Mac Tools’ President’s Club for overall purchases in the U.S. for both 2017 and 2018.  

Clarke’s wife, Tamiekah, handles all the “behind the scenes” work, such as paperwork, invoices, and checking in all the inventory, while Clarke is out in front of the customers. Of their three children, the two oldest boys, Payton, 14, and Noah, 10, also help on the truck from time to time. Their daughter, who is just seven years old, doesn’t help quite yet, he says.

So, what are Clarke’s sales techniques that have customers coming back?

“I’m not pushy,” he says. “I don’t try to force the customer to make a purchase. I listen to what they want. It may not be on my truck that day, but if I know I’m going back there the next week then I make sure I have a couple of options of what they are looking for.”

And, he’s honest.

“Honesty goes a long way,” he adds. “[Customers] may ask me for something, and rather than give them an answer that really isn’t true or I’m not 100 percent certain [of], I’ll tell them that I’m not sure and that I’ll get back to them with the correct answer.”

Clarke will also go out of his way to get a tool to a customer to complete his job. Even if that means driving from one side of Jacksonville to the other or communicating with other Mac Tool dealers in the area.

“Reaching out to other resources will only make you more successful,” Clarke concludes. “What I’ve learned in seven years is that honesty goes a long way with customers and … I’ve learned that if you can be the tool truck that [customers] call first, then you’ve earned their respect and they will call you first in any situation.”

As for future plans, Clarke would like to expand his business.

“I would love to have an employee and possibly a second truck to get to a point where we have two routes that we can manage,” he concludes.

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