Taking It to the People: Traveling Salespeople

Today’s Mac Tools’ truck, similar to the one driven by Ronnie Kennedy.

FOR THOSE WHO MAKE THE WORLD™

Mac Tools franchisee Ronnie Kennedy didn’t just have a company truck. He had a mobile salesroom.

On a cool North Carolina morning in 2013, Kennedy made his rounds. First stop: an auto repair shop in Pinebluff. His long and friendly relationship with the shop ensured a quick sale, and before long he was off to his next customer.

Kennedy is not a sales force of one. He is an entrepreneur who is part of a much larger network of franchisees and distributors of Mac Tools. The company’s mobile sales force is equipped with everything needed to best serve the automotive pros who use Mac Tools’ 42,000 products.1

For example, product demos have been a defining part of sales since long before the company’s founding. In 1823, Frederick T. Stanley left his home state of Connecticut at age 21 to set up his own business in Fayetteville, North Carolina.2 Stanley traveled door to door by horse and wagon, installing hinges and bolts by hand.3 The money he made from this work eventually helped him start The Stanley Works in 1852.4

Black & Decker offers another example of the power of product demos. In 1925, the company purchased two bus chassis from Pierce Arrow Motors and converted them into replicas of Pullman cars.5 With iconic orange-painted wheels, these “School Rooms on Wheels” attracted crowds wherever they went.6


Stanley’s 1953 Rollorama coach, which commemorated 100 years of The Stanley Works.

Three years later, Black & Decker took the same approach to doing business with the aviation industry.7 “We can’t sell an airport service facility if we arrive in a horse and buggy,” founder S. Duncan Black told a friend.8 The company purchased a plane from the Beech Aircraft Company so it could more easily reach rural airfields across the country.


An advertisement for Black & Decker’s flying showroom.

In 1949, it was The Stanley Works’ turn to follow in the footsteps of its founder. At a press conference on December 16, 1949, the company introduced a 36-passenger Rollorama motor coach to function as a mobile showroom. Displayed next to a re-enactor dressed as a Yankee peddler with a horse and wagon,9 the bus showed how far the industry had come since the 1820s. The company soon operated an entire fleet of similar buses.10

Inspirations like these ultimately led Ronnie Kennedy to an auto repair shop in Pinebluff on that cool North Carolina morning. The lessons learned from Mac Tools distributors like Kennedy continue to pave the way for additional sales innovations.

 


 

[1] "Be Your Own Boss - Tool Trucks." MAC Tools. https://www.mactools.com/en-us/Pages/Become%20A%20Franchisee/tool-truck.aspx.; “Brand History.” YouTube. December 05, 2017. Accessed February 16, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWl0IQ4tvj0&t=2s.
[2] Rodengen, Jeffrey L. The Legend of Stanley: 150 years of The Stanley Works. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Write Stuff Syndicate, 1996. 16.
[3] Rodengen, Jeffrey L. The Legend of Stanley: 150 years of The Stanley Works. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Write Stuff Syndicate, 1996. 16.
[4] "Stanley Works Continues to Be Merchandising Pioneer." Hartford Courant, May 2, 1965.; Rodengen, Jeffrey L. The Legend of Stanley: 150 years of The Stanley Works. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Write Stuff Syndicate, 1996. 15.
[5] Scott, Otto J. The powered hand: the story of Black & Decker. Washington: Uncommon Books, 1994. 42-43.
[6] Scott, Otto J. The powered hand: the story of Black & Decker. Washington: Uncommon Books, 1994. 43.; “School Room on Wheels Coming Here.” The Richmond Item Sun. May 30, 1926.
[7] Scott, Otto J. The powered hand: the story of Black & Decker. Washington: Uncommon Books, 1994. 43, 52.
[8] Scott, Otto J. The powered hand: the story of Black & Decker. Washington: Uncommon Books, 1994. 52.
[9] “Century of Progress in Hardware Selling.” Hartford Courant, December 17, 1949.
[10] “Stanley Works Rollorama Shows Products to Trade.” Hartford Courant. April 27, 1952.; Rodengen, Jeffrey L. The Legend of Stanley: 150 years of The Stanley Works. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Write Stuff Syndicate, 1996. 102.