MAC Tools Distributor Interview: Robert Wall, Jr.

MAC Tools distributor Robert Wall, Jr. regrets the day he signed up as a MAC Tools distributor.

An experienced mechanic, Robert Wall, Jr. signed up as a MAC Tools distributor for a route out of Dewey, OK after being laid off from his job as a jet mechanic at Cessna Aircraft.

In just two years of trying to keep his MAC Tools distributorship afloat, Robert Wall, Jr.  lost his savings, his severance, his retirement account, two houses, a Nissan pickup truck and his Honda Goldwing.

His credit score had been 840, and his wife’s was 870 before joining MAC Tools… today both are under 500.

In all, Robert estimates his losses at around $200,000.

According to Robert, Stanley Black & Decker-owned MAC Tools provided inadequate training, no guidance and no support.

“MAC only wanted their money,” he told us in a recent interview.

As a result, only 2 of the 9 distributors Robert trained with are still in business.

To those considering the MAC Tools distributor opportunity, Robert Walls, Jr. says:  “Just don’t go there, period.”

An Interview with Former MAC Tools Distributor Robert Wall, Jr.

UnhappyFranchisee:  Robert, what’s your background? What were you doing prior to owning your franchise?

Robert:  I was working at Cessna Aircraft in Independence, KS, as an A & P mechanic, specializing in systems installations on the Citation Mustang jet. I was laid off in March 2009 after nearly three and a half years. Prior to that, I had been an ASE certified auto technician for 15 years. I also worked as a mechanical and civil drafter.

MAC ToolsUnhappyFranchisee:  When did you decide you wanted to own your own business? Describe the process you went through to determine which franchise to buy.

Robert:  I looked into the possibility about 2-3 months after my layoff.  I initially prospected with Matco, then decided they would have too much influence in my business, and I also spoke with the former Matco dealer for this area, ( I knew him when I worked as an auto tech) who gave me information and advice not to go with Matco.

UnhappyFranchisee:  How did you first learn about the general concept? What did you find appealing about this type of business?

Robert:  I was aware of the general idea from when I was an auto tech. Since there were limited dealers in this area, I thought it would be a boon, although we were in a nationwide recession at the time.

UnhappyFranchisee:  Describe the company’s sales process and your interaction prior to becoming a franchisee.

Robert:  I sought them out, after failing to come to any agreement with MATCO, and it was pretty easy, once they saw that I had already gone through MATCO’s preliminaries.

UnhappyFranchisee:  How was the company’s training and pre-opening support. Was it a positive experience?

Robert:  Well, to start, I had to go clear across Oklahoma to go on the “discovery ride” with a dealer in Liberal, Kansas. Couldn’t get any of the SOB’s in the Tulsa or OKC area to ride with.  Yeah, they paid for my motel, I bought my gas and eats for a week.  As far as “tool school” goes, it was just peachy.  In Ohio, they comped the room, most of the meals, taught the basics about tool-selling.  I just loved the role-play. “Now, say it just like we say it, these are tried and true methods!” I could hardly stay awake for most of it.  Some good training on their software, to get us started.

UnhappyFranchisee:  Do you remember how many other franchise groups were represented in your initial training class? Do you know how many are still in business today?

Robert:  There were ten people, one was a candidate for DM, out of us nine, there are 2 left. Even the DM got out.

UnhappyFranchisee:  What marketing and promotional guidance, programs & support were provided? Were they effective?

Robert:  NO guidance.  NO support.  District meetings were all about buying tools and stupid ass price point crap that made no sense, always tying in with a BOGO deal. One meeting had the Launch rep there. I asked him point blank, who do you work for? He says “Launch.”  This rep dissed me while riding with the Matco dealer in my territory, told a customer that I had lied, that I couldn’t get the deal I had told him I would on a scanner. DM told me there wasn’t a thing he could do.

They were always pushing MAC Card, backed by Greensky, whoever that was.  No help there, because they would not approve ANYBODY, except my wife.  She got a Platinum card.  I put her through just to see what would happen. She was the only one of about twenty apps that went through.  After that, I just gave up trying to put anybody through.

UnhappyFranchisee:  How was your first year in business? Was the support what you expected? Why or why not?

Robert:  My first year in was just what I made of it. No support.  My DM didn’t help me unpack, or even ride with me for the first month or so.  He rode with a guy in my class, who started up about two hours away from me, in Stillwater, OK.  I got some dweeb out of Georgia or somewhere to ride with me.  He was on the computer, the phone, or out crying beside the truck because he and his wife were having problems.

I re-scouted my own route after I got home, finding new stops to replace the ones that didn’t pan out. Then my new truck broke down. I had a 2009 GMC C5500 from Herr, and at 14K miles, the engine started acting up. Well, it sat in a GMC Truck dealership shop for SIX WEEKS being worked on, while I ran around in my personal vehicle, with tools and stuff in the back, computer in the front seat, making hand receipts, and wringing my hands trying to get GM Corporate to light a fire under somebody’s ass to get my truck back.  Couldn’t hardly sell a thing, made good on some promo stuff I got from MAC, and that worked for about two weeks, and I tried to stay steady on my route to collect.

UnhappyFranchisee:  What were the positive aspects of your experience?

Robert:  I liked having my own business, the fact that I tried to make it a service-based business instead of a sales-driven business was a good thing, and it went over well with a lot of customers, but having lite bulbs and batteries won’t pay the fuel bill.

UnhappyFranchisee:  When did things start to go wrong? What was it that made you an unhappy franchisee?

Robert:  Things went south when I couldn’t keep up the payments to MAC, Wells Fargo, and fuel. When you can’t guarantee that you can even fire up the truck to make your route, it’s time to quit.

UnhappyFranchisee:  Did you try to resolve your issues with the franchisor? What was the outcome?

Robert:  MAC only wanted their money, and I found out that the “financial consultants” you talk to to pay your bill, or make arrangements (ha!) have weekly meetings to discuss “distributor viability” which is a fancy term for letting you go, or cutting you off.

UnhappyFranchisee:  What is your current situation? What would you like to see happen at this point?

Robert:  I’m done, disgusted, maybe a little settlement money before I die, or MAC Tools exposed. I doubt if anyone will actually see anything worth having after the lawyers pull up to the tit and suck their fees from any kind of “settlement.”

UnhappyFranchisee:  Do you think that the MAC Tools distributor concept is a viable?

Robert:  No, not really, not at this point in time. You have too many mechanics that have a lot of their own tools.  You have the new guys who buy all their tools at once with student discount programs, and most everybody surfs the net, so the service part of the business has really fallen by the wayside, because any dealer who can make it on lite bulbs and batteries doesn’t have much on the shelves. And you definitely DON’T need half of the tools they send you in your start-up.

UnhappyFranchisee:  What mistakes did you make? Looking back, what would you have done differently?

Robert:  Never use credit cards when you are in a bind, you will NEVER pay them back like you think you will. Especially for fuel.

UnhappyFranchisee:  How has your investment in a MAC Tools distributorship decision affected your life?

Robert:  It’s back to square one for me. Dirt low credit score, lost homes, working for insurance, driving a beat-up pickup. At least my wife didn’t leave me. That schmuck in Georgia wouldn’t leave MAC, so she left him.

UnhappyFranchisee:  What advice would you give to prospective franchise owners? What questions should they ask? What warning signs should they look for?

Robert:  Just don’t go there, period. Most cities are looking for more and more restaurants and eating places. Try your hand at that, or a food truck. Don’t even think about a tool truck.

If you would like to contact Robert Wall, Jr., please send a request to UnhappyFranchisee[at]gmail.com

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TAGS: MAC Tools, MAC Tools franchise, MAC Tools distributor, MAC Tools pricing, MAC Tools opportunity, MAC Tools distributor opportunity, MAC Tools dealer, tool truck franchise, mobile tool franchise, Stanley Black & Decker, MAC Tools complaints, franchise lawsuits, Robert Wall Jr., Dewey OK, Bartlesville OK

6 thoughts on “MAC Tools Distributor Interview: Robert Wall, Jr.

  • April 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm
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    Good intreview. All valid points..

  • April 2, 2013 at 9:38 pm
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    I am sorry Robert for what you have gone through. You nailed MAC Tools directly on the head. They are a very selfish company who gives you no support and only wants to suck you dry so that they can move on to the next sucker. Just know that you are not alone in this. You should give Jerry Marks a call. I have done lots of research on him. He was highly recommended from a person who used him and was extremely happy.

  • April 3, 2013 at 7:09 pm
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    It’s just sad. There are so many of us living the same nightmare. I would like to invite everyone to visit my blog at: http://stanleymactoolslawsuit.blogspot.com/ you can read about mine and many other MAC victims stories. Lets keep the dialog going folks. After your visit to my blog come back and leave a comment here at Unhappy Franchisee.

  • April 30, 2013 at 11:03 am
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    There are a few important points that need to be addressed. First of all, payment. There has to be a way to guarantee payment. In this day of no checks being taken anywhere, and cash, credit/debit cards and pay deductions, tool dealers need a guaranteed payment method. You can’t go into a restaurant, or other retail business without paying for your products and services. That old bullshit line of ” I don’t have it this week” doesn’t pay the rent, fella. Automatic payroll deduction sounds like a good place to start. That way, dealers aren’t having to hold payments waiting for cash flow. Just another way of keeping your customers honest.

    And, better ways of dealing with deadbeats would be another avenue to make easier. Tool dealers are on the road every day. Dealers can’t afford to take the time out of the route to go to the courthouse, go through the patdown just to get in, then wait to file the paperwork necessary to get the former customer served, etc. I had asked a competing dealer, who was a good friend, about how he has dealt with those people, and most of the time, he just sucked it up. The only recourse was to show the loss on your taxes, and go on.

    Third, specifically dealing with MAC and Wells Fargo, there is not a dealer on the road now that started his business FULLY FINANCED. The debt to income ratio is impossible to overcome, I can tell you that from experience. In hindsight, there was no way, even doing a seven day route, to keep up with the payments to MAC and WF, pay yourself a modest salary (not poverty level), and buy fuel. There has to be a point where WF would be forced to say, hey, we are going to lose here, we have always in the past, we need a set of standards by which to judge where the bucks stops. Maybe you could survive if you bought an old beater truck, took about half of the inventory they want to sell you.

    As to lists of call, I believe a third party needs to be enlisted in this. Some sort of business survey company that would go around, checking for viable shops in these areas, and eliminate the bias that the tool co. DM’s have. These figures need to be trustworthy, not fudged by a DM that really doesn’t have the time to check these shops out thoroughly.

    Well, that’s all my lastest ramblings for now.

  • April 30, 2013 at 11:14 am
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    One other thing. INVENTORY. Just how much hardline does one need to carry ? As I posted earlier, with all the student tech programs available through ALL the tool co’s, having a shot at students buying tools is zip to zero. Veteran mechanics already have lots of hardline, and typically, the only calls for those types are warranty calls. If all you have is a line of 54 different types of flashlights, which by the way, where the hell do they all come from ?) you don’t have much in the way of things to sell.

    I think some serious polling has to be done to see just what mechanics want to see come by on the tool truck every week, or every other week, so that business owners can decide FOR THEMSELVES what would be good to carry. That would be better than the monthly ” buy this get this free ” crap.

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