Tales from the Road: Out with the parts and in with the tools

Changes in the automotive landscape caused a change in career for this Georgia-based Independent tool dealer.

Independent tool dealer Danny Jones says he covers about 700-800 miles per week in his Freightliner FL70.
Independent tool dealer Danny Jones says he covers about 700-800 miles per week in his Freightliner FL70.

Danny Jones has been an Independent tool dealer in the Dalton, Georgia, area for the past 10 years. But prior to selling automotive tools, Jones sold automotive parts: ACDelco and Motorcraft, to be specific.

“The parts business kind of went away in about 2000 or 2002,” Jones says. “I hung on there for seven or eight years, and in 2009 or 2010 I got to dabbling in tools pretty consistently, and [my next career] kind of blossomed from there.” 

Danny Jones Inc., Jones’ mobile tool business, started off pretty small, Jones says. He was working out of a Ford E-250 van when he first started, but the operation has grown since then, and Jones now works out of a 2002 Freightliner FL70 with a GEARWRENCH wrap. 

In the last decade, Jones has seen a number of changes to the tools industry, including the shift from pneumatic tools to battery powered options. He says this shift is also reflected in consumer spending. 

“[Power tools] are big business now,” Jones says. “I can count on one hand the number of air tools I’ve sold in the last six months, and I can’t count on both hands and both feet the number of battery powered tools I’ve sold. They’re selling 10-to-1 more than air tools are.” 

When it comes to customer spending, Jones notes that in the last few years, he’s noticed the shop owners and technicians on his route have “loosened up a bit.” With interest rates low, technicians are spending more than they were in the late 2000s. 

“Business is pretty good out there today,” he says. 

Jones attributes part of his success as a mobile tool dealer to the fact that he’s the only GEARWRENCH dealer in the area. He notes that there are flag tool trucks around, but says crossover is minimal. 

“They’re pretty strong competition, but they don’t sell what I sell, and I don’t sell what they sell,” he explains. 

When it comes to financing, Jones has found that it’s better to do it himself. 

“I’ve come to find out that the financing companies … want to finance your stuff, but they want to charge 15 or 18 percent,” he says. “People just aren’t going to pay that … [so] my wife and I just finance it ourselves.” 

The customers on Jones’ route, who range from independent repair shops to dealership technicians, are mainly spread out amongst smaller towns in northwest Georgia. He travels as far south as Cedartown and Rockmart, and as far north as Chattanooga, Tennessee, covering about 700 to 800 miles per week. 

That’s a lot of miles and, looking to the future, Jones hopes to slow down a bit when he gets the opportunity to sell his business.  

“I enjoy what I’m doing, I’m just ready to go play some golf and do some stuff like that,” he says. 

For now, however, Jones is content running his route and making the sales. 

“I enjoy what I do,” he says. “I truly enjoy what I do.”

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