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By Craig Braack

Small business spotlight: Meet “Matco Bill” owner of local auto tool and supply franchise

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You have probably seen the truck, now meet the man himself!

By Andrew Harris, pictured is Bill and family

If you are in the auto sales, repair, or auto body industry in the Southern Tier, then you know William Ferguson of Wellsville, aka “Matco Bill”. If you don’t work in that industry then most likely you’ve seen the truck with a big Matco sign and wondered what the heck Matco is ?

Established in 1979 as an independent tool distribution and franchising company, Matco Tools builds premium toolboxes in their Lakewood NY plant, just outside of Jamsestown NY. Beyond toolboxes Matco dealers, estimated at about 2500 nationally, distribute automotive tools, equipment, diagnostics and guidance.

Ferguson’s local Matco operation is part of a national network and a part of everyday small town life. The work is busy, if you can imagine how many auto sales, repair, restoration shops are within Matco Bill’s territory. This franchise of Matco products and services earns the business of customers with a personal relationship. Ferguson describes his work week:

“A tool dealer calls on the shops weekly to see what each business and technician may be needing, wanting, and to address repairs or quotes. I believe there aren’t many business models left like mobile tool sales. If a customer desires a $500 tool for example, there may or may not be money down but there usually is a weekly payment of 1/5 to 1/10 of the agreed price. So that customer would pay between $25 and $50 each week with no interest. The desired weekly turn on a sale for most dealers is 5 to 10 weeks to allow the technician to make payments and open affordability to more expensive tools, or multiple sales. There are options for credit contracts that are interest accruing but those are usually reserved for larger purchases like toolboxes and diagnostics, shop equipment or several items at one time.”

Meet a few of Matco Bill’s happy customers

The mobile tool sales business is one of the last “on your word and a handshake” businesses. Matco Bill has used old fashioned business practices to earn the trust and respect of his customers like Affordable Auto in Andover NY.

Tap for a quote!

Using the simple handshake to make agreements, understanding the needs of individual customers like Jacob Riehle at Affordable, and being a reliable supplier have earned Matco Bill a healthy business and the respect of customers. Riehle had this to say about doing business with Ferguson:

“He is a good dude. All the interactions I have had with him, he is about helping how he can so I give him as much business as I can. One thing he does is that I like it he will raffle off tools donated by him to help raise money for people in need.”

Matco Bill explains that giving back is one of the most important, and satisfying parts of the job he does:

“I have been blessed to also use my business to support several benefits, currently my customers and I have been able to make a $1500 donation to support a 16yr old entry and participation in SkillsUSA for Diesel tech. We donated 4k to help the family of a local man who had a tragic motorcycle accident, to rescue pups in cuba, several other tragic family benefits for people who have lost loved ones, or experiences house fires. In 2020 we donated $3k in Black Rifle Coffee to Olean General, Jones Memorial, and St. James hospitals. Being able to support this community is absolutely a perk of what I do.”

Giving back to the community and running a successful and respected business are part of what keeps Matco Bill on the move, but also the freedom of being his own boss. After five years working at the Matco facility in Jamestown, the twists and turns of life offered an opportunity. Bill learned about the opportunities that mobile tool sales presents and took a leap of faith. He moved to Wellsville, “one of the last vestiges of small town America,” bought his truck, and started building a business.

Matco Bill is a veteran of the United States Air Force and is well respected among the local veteran community. He credits that service and experience with his success today and reminds all fellow veterans that it is okay to be patient in determining a career path.

“After my enlistment ended I did what most people do and tread water until I decided to use my veterans benefits for college and got a justice degree I have never used. Many people never really figure out what they want to do and I am lucky to have done that but it wasn’t easy and I had to sacrifice a lot of myself to set up a solid foundation to start a business and I couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for people like my wife who support and believe in me.”

Follow Matco Bill on Facebook

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