Joe Matuk of Park Forest, Illinois, had been working in the used auto parts business for about 25 years when he received a phone call from a friend who was a district manager for Mac Tools. He had asked Matuk to become a mobile distributor in the past, but Matuk had always refused. This time, however, the route was close to home. Matuk expressed his interest, and the process began.
Before signing on with Mac Tools Matuk looked into other tool distribution companies, but ultimately found the best fit for him was with Mac.
“It seemed like [the company] was very friendly, very easy,” Matuk says of Mac Tools. “They were having a district meeting a week or so after I was looking into this, so they let me [attend], and it was pretty interesting. The process started ... and we went forward.”
That was about 15 years ago, and Matuk is still on the road with Mac today. He doesn’t have to travel far since his route is fairly urban with multiple stops densely packed together. The majority of his stops are dealerships, which Matuk says is a good thing.
“You go into a dealership, [there might be] 20, 30, 40 guys,” he says. “Some dealerships, I spend a good couple of hours there.”
Matuk has a lot of competition in the area from independents and other flags, but he’s done a good job of making himself stand out to be the go-to mobile distributor. His tactics are simple, yet effective.
“Make sure you show up every week, talk to everybody, treat people the way you want to be treated,” he says. “That’s how I am - I’m a very easygoing guy. I try to make it so that they’re happy to see me. I walk in with a positive attitude and smiling and hear, ‘Hey, Joe’s here! Joe’s here!' It’s almost embarrassing,” Matuk laughs. “But it’s really nice that they do that.”
Matuk found early on that he had become more like a friend or a family member, not just someone his customers did business with. On numerous occasions he’ll be invited to parties, birthdays, even weddings. And when he was going through a tough time in his personal life, Matuk found out just how much he means to his customers.
“Guys could tell there was something wrong - I was not myself,” he says. “It was just so heartwarming how guys cared, and came up and hugged me. ‘Hey Joe, how’s it going?’ and, ‘Just hang in there, you’ll get through it.’ It was amazing. It was nice to know I was not just their tool guy, I was their friend.”
Needless to say, Matuk loves his work. While he has no immediate plans to retire, he looks forward to the day that he can, somewhere down the road. His grandson, who is currently 14, rides along with Matuk in the summer and seems to enjoy the industry.
“He’s very good with my customers,” Matuk says. “He carries my tool bag in, and even does the tool demonstrations sometimes.”
Perhaps someday Matuk’s grandson will want to take over this tool route. For the time being, however, Matuk is happy with the way things are.
“I love what I do,” he says. “I’ve met a lot of good people - I’ve made a lot of good friends doing this.”