Underhood: ABS Diagnostics
Opportunity for growth within Mac Tools has taken Mike Button from a 22-year-old, inexperienced distributor to Mac Tools director of sales.
There are numerous and varied opportunities for careers in the automotive aftermarket. Technician, shop owner, service advisor, parts sales, restoration specialist, tool sales … the list goes on. We wanted to share this story from Mac Tools about how one of its tool distributors has risen through the ranks and has become an executive at the company.
Mac Tools targets passionate individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit – those wanting to own and build a successful business.
The company places great value in its franchise owners, surrounding them with a network of experienced veterans for support and providing broad advertising/marketing campaigns that enable franchisees to remain focused on serving their customer base.
Franchise owners can use a single-truck approach, or in time, employ multiple routes in their operation that can lead to additional growth. Either strategy requires a strong work ethic, ability to build relationships, a genuine concern for customer service and a competitive drive to build a business that new owners can be proud of. And when a franchisee is ready and wants to pursue advancement in management, Mac Tools can provide that opportunity, too.
Just ask Mike Button. Mac Tools gave Button the chance to accelerate his career development and he has motored his way virtually to the top.
Most recently, Button was named director of sales at Mac Tools – his fourth promotion in 10 years. Button, 40, now oversees a network of regional and district managers in the U.S. for the Westerville, Ohio-based company that provides tools, accessories and electronics to technicians through a nationwide network of Mac Tools franchisees.
One could say that Button is a poster child for advancement within Mac Tools. “If you are willing to work hard, are determined and set your goals, what you think about every day is what you will become – no matter what it is,” Button says. “Mac Tools is the type of company that recognizes talent from within and wants to promote accordingly…If I can do it, then anyone can.”
Button grew up in Avoca, New York. A basketball standout and multi-sport athlete in high school, he joined the U.S. Navy in 1993. If there was one thing that Button took away from life in the Navy – a stint that included deployment to the Mediterranean Sea during the Bosnian conflict – it was, “attention to detail.” He returned to his native roots with a burning desire to run his own business. The checkered flag dropped in May 1998 when a family friend told him about his positive experience with Mac Tools.
At age 22, Button joined Mac Tools as a distributor in his home state. He said he bristled at those who told him he was, “foolish and couldn’t succeed in the business at his age.” The skeptics motivated him to succeed, but reality set in when he hit the road up against far more seasoned competitors. “I struggled for the first six months,” Button said. “I was young, couldn’t get anyone to give me the time of day or respect from the shop owners. “I was up against competitors who had 30 years of experience, 24-foot trucks and showrooms I couldn’t compete with.”
It was around the six-month mark with Mac Tools that Button had a breakthrough he vividly remembers. It was an encounter that convinced him that the service Mac Tools puts so much stock into does pays off. “It was a shop owner that bought his tools from a competitor, but I kept showing up and kept asking for his business,” Button recalled. “He finally challenged me with a unique item, thinking I would fail and wouldn’t deliver it to him. “I went the extra mile to locate it, and delivered it to him during off hours. He appreciated that so much that he started buying from me immediately. That’s when it clicked with me that if I can provide the best service, I can win the sale.”
With a newfound confidence, Button stepped into the driver’s seat of his 16-foot, step-van truck (minus the chrome stacks) and took Mac Tools’ advice of engaging his peers to learn more about the business. He reached out to Tom Neamon, a fellow Mac Tools distributor with 20 years of experience, who took Button “under his wing.”
“[Neamon] would take me out to dinner on Friday nights and ask me how my week went and help me with the back-end financials,” Button said. “I could call him any time during the day to ask him questions. He really was a mentor to me in the tool business.”
OWNING YOUR DESTINY
As a distributor, Button said, “I worked whatever it took. I can remember many nights being out on my truck at 11 p.m. and I started at 7 a.m., religiously.” All that hard work paid off. In May 2005, he stepped off the truck and away from “Being His Own Boss” to become a Mac Tools district manager. Four years after that, Button was named a regional sales manager, and in January 2014, he was named national franchise manager – leading a team responsible for working with entrepreneurs interested in becoming a Mac Tools franchisee.
In August 2015, Mac Tools named Button its director of sales. He is living proof that being a Mac Tools franchise owner can ultimately lead to opportunities one may never expect.
BUTTON’S TIPS FOR SUCCESS
1. It has to be a lifestyle – not just a job.
2. Must be motivated – want to win.
3. A strong support network – you can’t do it alone.