Hitting all the stops

This Mac Tools dealer on the Oregon coast is in his upgraded truck, selling tools and service to a diverse customer base

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Joe Ostling has a mobile tool dealer with Mac Tools for nearly nine years. His lineal route is on the Central Oregon Coast, from Florence, north to Tillamook. He sells product to many businesses, and not just automotive. Ostlings customers work at small, one-man shops and large dealership, industrial facilities and manufacturing plants. He also stops at logging companies, trucking companies, lumber mills and dairy farms. This strategy of diversity has served Ostling well. “I knew if I could diversify my customer base, if one part of the economy [happens to be] low, business will even out in the long run.”

“I’ve wanted to own my own business for many years, and with the tool business, I could hit the ground running,” he says.

The Mac Tools dealer purchased the 24’ 2018 Peterbuilt 337 from Summit Bodyworks and took possession of it in February 2018. Ostling says because of the miles he covers it was difficult to justify a second-hand vehicle, so he opted to purchase new.

The spacious truck suits his large inventory of product and his show-and-tell service style. Each shelf on the Peterbuilt is categories for product type. He dedicates one larger shelf for sale items which are rotated regularly.

Ostling keeps popular diagnostic and power tool displays near the front door. He also likes to take power tools out of their packaging so customers can get a good look and feel for the tool. “A lot of customers are [purchasing] cordless tools instead of air tools. Most customers want to touch, feel and handle those items,” he says.

As far as features go, he appreciates extra tie downs for product display, and how well-lit the vehicle is, thanks to power outlets in various places throughout. “It’s nice to have a convenient space to plug in battery powered items,” he says.

He also keeps miscellaneous items in a couple drawers beneath the counter: punches and chisels, sockets not in a set. The products housed here were a bit of a treasure for customers, but this suits them. “It was 6-8 months before they learned they were there to investigate. Customers are funny -- especially maintenance technicians -- they are very inquisitive,” says Ostling. “They’ll take boxes down and open them to see what’s in them. It’s a touchy-feely deal.”

Ostling started out as an equipment manager for a construction company, and he says maintenance people are, for the most part, service oriented. On his truck he not only sells tools, he sells service. “That’s the way they (maintenance professionals) think and breathe and live. I went into this business with the same attitude; if I give good service to my customer, the rest will take care of itself.”

He does this by making sure customers’ needs, repairs and warranties are taken care of promptly with no hassles. He says this services keeps customers “coming back for more.”

“Once you become their supplier you depend on them and they depend on you.”

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