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Putting a Face with the Voice: The Sales and Customer Service Team

As you walk into the Standard Tools and Equipment corporate offices, the entire front hallway is made up of our customer service, sales team and marketing team. It’s a loud and bustling hallway, answering phones and having some fun along the way.

When you call in and talk to our sales and customer service team, have you ever wondered what the voice on the other end of the phone looks like? Our sales and customer service team is made up of some of the most amazing people I have had the pleasure to know and work beside. We wanted to show you a peak inside our sales center…. it’s a fun place to be. Come see us sometime!

The Sales team

 


From Left to Right:

Julie Surprenant: Paint booth rock star. Loves to talk to customers from her home state of Rhode Island or fans of her beloved Red Sox. Her office is covered in Red Sox gear and her son’s beautiful artwork. You can tell from talking to her that she’s not “from around these parts”…. and we love that about her.Julie's desk
Fabiola Martinez: Tools USA and Eagle sales and customer service. Makes the most amazing empanadas that everyone in the office can’t get enough of. Seriously, we beg…. it’s sad and pathetic, but they’re that good. She also covers our Spanish sales line.

Wayne Piner: Eagle Sales, Parts and Customer Service. Loves coaching in his spare time and has mastered the art of working with so many women (and acting like he doesn’t love every minute of it.)

Jennifer Patterson: Sales. Specializing in paint booth sales and customer service. The newest member of our team, Jennifer has a gazillion post-it notes at her workspace. She loves talking to people, and you will enjoy her very southern accent! (She may also slip a ‘sweetie’ or a ‘Hun’ in there).

Jennifer at her desk
Bill Daliege: Problem solver. Parts orderer. Manual writer. Detail fixer. Has been with us 10 years and is familiar with the “vintage Eagle machines”. He loves to help you out …. just don’t touch his hat.

Sales posing
Michelle Duncan:
Michelle is the team’s cheerleader and coach. You’ll often find her dancing in the hallways, bringing in food for someone’s birthday or helping to solve a customer’s issue.

 

Gina Gilchrist: Gina is the smiling face you see if you come to see us. She always has candy in her drawer and gum in her pocket, so she’s a good friend to have. She’s been with us for 10 years and can assist in solving almost any issue!

Angie Brown:  She is the team’s fashionista and camera lover, and the camera loves her back!  She is the most cheerful and happy person on the team, and her awesome attitude is surely contagious. If you check inside her desk, you would see that she likes Lysol wipes and multiple packets of ranch … she also always has enough sugar to get her through the day.

Angie's snack stash

Not Pictured: Rosy Gonzalez: Our rock star sales and customer rep, based in Texas!

KNOW WHO YOU’RE DOING BUSINESS WITH

barneyOne of the benefits that the Internet has brought with it is the ability to find almost anything that you’re looking for from the comfort of your computer. No longer is location a barrier to doing business. Let me give you an example. Do you remember that big purple dinosaur from the 90’s, Barney?  Say you’re throwing a Barney birthday party for your soon-to-be-three year old, no longer do you have to drive to a zillion stores to see who carries supplies from that popular children show from 25 years ago. Now, you can hop on Amazon or Ebay, check out partycity.com or scoot over to Walmart’s site to order custom banners, posters, balloons and table clothes that have the big purple Dino on it. Within an hour, you can be done. Some of these products come from China (the Dinosaur is popular over there), some come from personal collections, and some are sold exclusively online for those searching for the hard-to-find supplies. Some of the sites you may choose to order from because you know of their business (everyone knows Walmart) and are familiar with them. But what if you have never heard of them or have no idea who they are? Would you still choose to do business with them? It’s hard to determine how genuine a business is when you are simply looking at their web site. When you are looking for a paint booth, you are looking at a large investment… not just some balloons or party décor. How can you decide if the company you’re looking at online is a legitimate business that will provide you a quality booth?

Here are some signs that you may want to pay attention to when shopping online.

Remember that anyone can get a web site and pay to show up on Google. Here are some results for “Paint booth” on Google.

NC paint booth Google search resultsA nice web site may be a good sign, but what is contained within that web site is even more important. Don’t be swayed with how “nice” a site is… but for the information they provide about themselves. When you search for a product on Google, remember that anyone can pay to show up in the ads … the one’s who show up in the organic results are the ones that are there because of the content they provide as well as the record they have proven to Google.

THERE IS NO PHYSICAL ADDRESS LISTED

This is a big giveaway that it is a company you may not want to do business with. When ordering anything online, it’s important to find out that it is a legitimate business before you give them payment information. If the company does not freely provide their location (actual address), business history and how their booths are made (and where they are made)…. I would go with a more established organization. Get a physical address and Google Image the map of it. A PO Box is not a physical address.  FYI- When you Google our address, this is what you see, our office and plant facilities…. with an actual brick-and-mortar location and cars in the parking lot.

4810 Clover Rd. MapquestA companies web site should include: where their booths are manufactured, where their booths are shiDistribution centerspped from, who is makes the booths, how long the business has been making booths, how many employees they have, etc.

Some competitors list several states that they have “locations” in… but in reality they are a distributor of a company that have storage warehouses in those locations. Some of these companies do not have any kind of brick-and-mortar location, although they present themselves to.

If you are shopping on a site like eBay or Amazon, make certain you know the company you are purchasing it from.

about us video captureNO PRESENCE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Can you find their basic web site but nothing else? No Facebook page or YouTube account. No blogs to read. Remember that anyone can set up a basic web site, that doesn’t mean they are a legitimate business. Find a company that constantly posts blogs with useful information, post photos of client’s products and testimonials. Companies should be utilizing as many avenues as possible to tell you about their company and products. If not, perhaps you should ask, “why?”

FEEDBACK + REVIEWS

Every company has their share of upset customers, but if all you find online are customers that are complaining about their experience with a company…. It should be a red flag. You should be able to see both positive and some negative comments when you look at their reviews or scan their social pages.

PHOTOS OF ACTUAL PRODUCTS One of our paint booths with a car

We all want to see what the finished product looks like. Look for customer photos on their site or on their Facebook page. Drawings are the industry norm, but their social pages and blogs should provide images of what their booths look like after installation.

TYPOS AND ERRORS ON SITE 

Are there misspelled words or errors in the formatting? For example, instead of “14’W x 10’H x 24’D” does it read “14’0?wid? x 10’0?hi?gh x 24’0?deep”?

These are signs that the business is:

a)     Copying and pasting the information from somewhere else.
b)    Doesn’t take the time to really proof their site for accuracy. Make sure you do business with a company that pays attention to the details.
c)     English isn’t their first language, so perhaps they are located elsewhere.

WHO THEY ARE Our funny Holiday picture

You should know whom you’re doing business with. Can you easily find a name, or photo, of someone at the company, or the CEO? Are there photos of the employees posted on their Facebook? Are there email addresses or direct phone numbers? Is there an “About Us” portion of their site that tells you their mission and why they are passionate about what they do? All of these little details add up to give you the information you need to make an informed decision on whom you are doing business with.

We thank you for your trust and your business!

Let’s Chat ….. Online!

Heather and coffeeIt’s early Wednesday morning and I am just settling into my desk, big ole’ cup of coffee in my hand and looking out the window hoping I will soon see a few snow flakes. As I start to sort through emails and check voicemails, I hear a big BRRRRRRRRING! It’s my computer letting me know that a customer is online and wanting to chat!

So, I start my morning assisting a customer on our paint-booths.com site looking to get a heated booth. In this cold weather, I can’t blame him! We chatted for a few, and were able to get him a quote quickly, while we both had our coffee.

We have recently added the “Live Chat” option to our web sites (www.paint-booths.com, www.toolsusa.com, and www.eagleequip.com).  Don’t worry- it’s not Skype or a video chat — we can’t see you sitting there in your PJ’s (thank goodness).  While we are still getting used to communicating with our customers online, it’s great for our customers to quickly ask a question or request a shipping quote. We also love it when our customer’s just stop by to say hi. Look for the Bright Aqua Button on the left side of our site. (See Image) Continue reading Let’s Chat ….. Online!

The Process of a Paint Booth Sale

It used to be that everything could be bought at your local hardware or general store. After that, there was Wal-mart (AKA: Wally World). Since the Internet has become a household necessity in the last decade, online shopping has skyrocketed and people are carving out niches that only the Internet makes possible. For instance, a stay-at-home Mom who can sew really well is able to sell her crafty pieces on Etsy or Ebay. Have some stuff you want to get rid of but don’t have the time or energy for a yard sale? (Plus, you really hate getting up that early.) Snap a photo on your phone and put it on Craigslist.  People no longer have to fight the crowds at Wal-Mart or search from store to store. They can find everything, including extremely rare and hard-to-find items or Paint Booths, on their computer.

Shop with Caution: With online shopping come scams and rip-offs. After all, anyone can setup a web site and become an “online seller” without any credentials or validity.  How do you know if it is a legit business or just a guy in his garage? It is extremely important that when you are ordering from an online retailer, do your homework. Read the “About Us” page on their site. Check them out on social media (Facebook / Twitter / Ect.) Are there pictures of their facilities, phone numbers, an address, email addresses, etc?   How long have they been in business? Do they stand behind their products? Do they have a customer service department? Google their company name for any online conversation about them. Read their customer feedback. Always go with your gut instinct. Okay, rant over… moving on.

Here’s the process of your paint booth going through production! We’re going to demonstrate via photos (fun, right?!). All of our sales & customer service team members are based out of our home office, on the same premises as our manufacturing plant. Both located in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Once you have shopped our web site, watched our “About Us” video and liked us on Facebook…. You’re ready to order. Continue reading The Process of a Paint Booth Sale

Introducing the Sure-Cure Air Makeup Unit from Standard Tools and Equipment Co.

We have always been the innovative type; it’s kind of a given if you’re in the manufacturing business. In today’s market, businesses must adapt and change to endure. Through Standard Tools and Equipment Co, Tools USA (since 1979) and Eagle Equipment (since 1953), have continued to grow and expand, remaining a leader in the industry.

Have you ever found a product and it was so genius and so simple, you thought to yourself, “Why didn’t I think of this?”

We find that our most successful endeavors come from looking around the industry that we know best and noticing that we can create something better than anyone else out there. For us, that’s exactly how Standard Tools and Equipment began making paint booths in 1997. We noticed a need, we heard customer after customer asking and we had all the right elements to make a better booth ourselves. Since then, we have become an industry leader in paint booth systems. We use our knowledge and experience to develop unsurpassed products for our customers.

The Sure-Cure Air Makeup Unit, STE-AMUWe are proud to introduce you to our latest successful adventure, the Sure-Cure® Air Makeup Unit.

We started developing plans for our own air makeup unit in 2011. This plan came from a couple apparent needs:

  1. There was a great need in the market for a safe and reliable unit that had all the bells and whistles included in the marketed price.
  2. Customers were fed up with the lengthy wait times that were currently associated with Air Makeup Units. They didn’t understand how we could design, customize, build and ship a paint booth in less than 10 days but they had to wait months, for their air makeup unit. We didn’t understand it either.
  3. We researched and decided that we could make them ourselves. We would do it better, safer and quicker. After all, we are a leading paint booth manufacturer and we know what it takes to heat a booth properly. It only made sense to build them ourselves. Continue reading Introducing the Sure-Cure Air Makeup Unit from Standard Tools and Equipment Co.

How to Build a Paint Booth

homemade boothFor around $200 in materials, anyone with some basic construction skills can create a paint booth. Isn’t that scary? There are hundreds of sites and discussion boards online giving tips on how to build a homemade paint booth, and no two are the same. When looking into building your own homemade paint booth, just whom are you getting advice from? Do they know anything about the proper flow, safety, and design of a paint booth or are they just really crafty?

There are really only two methods: one too common & one correct.

All too common:

DIYer heads to their local big-box store to buy supplies (plywood, 2x4s, nails, any type of light fixtures, two HVAC fans, HVAC filters and some vinyl sheet for ductwork.)  DIYer cleans out a corner in the shop or garage and builds a booth. No worries about airflow, adequate filtration, egress or other such nonsense.  It may require a couple of attempts to get this part of the project just right.  Once complete, DIYer brags to their buddies about how inexpensive this project really was.  Once painting starts, DIYer leaves a door cracked for ventilation, leaving a high potential for an explosion or a fire. Overspray coats the item (due to poor air flow), the items around the booth (due to poor containment) and the items outside the shop (due to poor filtration).  DIYer dials 911 when the paint-soaked plywood ignites.

 

Correctly Install a Paint BoothSDD WHITE INSIDE

Price comparisons often keep hobbyists from exploring other options and considerations. It is possible to buy a pre-engineered spray booth manufactured in a high-quality shop and based on a proven design.  The booth comes with detailed installation, operation and maintenance manuals as well as experienced professionals available to answer any concerns.  Contractors come on-site to complete the booth’s electrical, fire and ducting systems to ensure the highest safety.  Once a permit-of-occupancy is obtained from your local permitting authorities, you can enjoy the quality and productivity that your new spray booth provides for many years. [Plus, you can get extra work from the first guy after his fire.]

Buy Before January 1st to Save Thousands.

It’s December already, can you believe it? Where does a year go? With the year coming to a close, you may hear a lot about “Section 179” and how you’re business can benefit if you are looking to purchase some equipment before 2013.

We get just as confused as the next guy when you start talking “tax rate”, “deductions” and “depreciation”. We thought we would do a little research and try to explain how this could be a HUGE benefit to small businesses.

When we say ‘equipment’, we mean any large purchase you buy to benefit your business. Some examples: a paint booth to help your productivity, a car lift to increase your repair business or a frame machine for the busy winter months. If your business needs it to increase business and it’s an ‘investment’, it is most likely included in this category.

You can even finance it in 2013, but write it off in 2012 and save thousands.

So, section179 is what exactly? It’s an incentive created by the U.S. government to encourage businesses to buy equipment and invest in themselves. Essentially, Section 179 of the IRS tax code allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment purchased (or financed) during the tax year. Wow! The FULL PURCHASE PRICE will be deducted from your gross income. (As long as the total purchase price is less than 139,000.) Continue reading Buy Before January 1st to Save Thousands.

Cleaning Your Paint Booth

If a paint booth is supposed to keep dust away from my project, why am I still seeing it?

Well the answer to this question may be an easy one. It may seem that the paint booth is not serving its purpose, but that may not be true. Most likely you have a dirty or poorly maintained booth.  Proper cleanup and maintenance is key for creating flawless finishes, and also provides a safe and competent working environment for painting. Continue reading Cleaning Your Paint Booth

Our CEO’s Response To Doing Business In China

Meeting at our Chinese plantsLast week, I was in China visiting three of the plants that manufacture equipment for Eagle Equipment and Tools USA. A picture of my visit to one of the plants was posted on facebook. We were immediately inundated with comments that were ugly, obscene, and questioned my patriotism. This is in response to those comments.

My family roots in this country can be traced back to the 1600’s, before there was a United States. My ancestors fought the British in South Carolina during the American Revolution. My family served and died for both sides in the Civil War. And I have had relatives serve our country in every war from WWI to Afghanistan and Iraq. My father and his father were lifelong members of the machinists union (AFL/CIO) in the airline industry. My mother’s father played football for the University of Alabama in 1917 and 1919 (no team in 1918 because of the war). My son spent ten years as an officer in the US Army, serving in Kosovo, Iraq, and Korea.

I love my country and I am proud of my family’s American Heritage and my lineage.

Reviewing products produced overseasTen years ago, Standard Tools manufactured all of our products in the United States. We paid above average wages and provided good benefits to our workers. Gradually over the years, we became less competitive because we could not compete with imported products. Like the textile and furniture industries before us, the automotive equipment industry was being off-shored in search of cheaper labor.

Faced with a choice of importing products or shutting down a portion of our business, I elected to bring equipment in from overseas. We spent two years selecting vendors that could and would produce equipment that met our rigid standards of quality and safety. We continue to monitor the development and production of our foreign made products. We maintain a presence inside the manufacturing plants that work for us. I can assure our customers that the quality of production in our plants equals or exceeds the quality of most American manufacturers.

While I wish that we could build these products in this country competitively, the reality is that we can’t. And sadly, the American buying public doesn’t care. We still offer American made lifts. Last year, only 13 people were willing to pay for an American made Eagle lift. 13! Like all of the other lift and frame machine manufacturers and distributors, we are forced to give the people what they want, an inexpensive product. I see our goal as providing the highest quality imported product and a competitive price.

Carefully inspecting one of our foreign-made productsNow let me share my final thoughts on this subject. There are currently 50 employees and their families here in North Carolina that depend on Standard Tools for their livelihood. They come from all over: Rick and Terri are from Pittsburgh. Bill is from Chicago. Phil and Jennifer are from Long Island. Carmen is from Miami. Her parents fled Cuba to escape communism under Castro. Bam, Dhuen, and Soh are Monteynards from Vietnam. They are refugees from the internment camps set up by the Vietnamese following the fall of South Vietnam. Rada is from Bosnia. He fled from the civil war in his homeland in the Balkans. All are Americans and all love their country dearly.

We are a great nation and we will continue to grow and prosper. However, in the new global economy, we must work with other peoples and nations to achieve prosperity. The world seems to have gotten smaller in my 60+ years but not more understanding. There is still no place for ignorance and bigotry. It is easy to blame our problems on foreigners, including the Chinese factory worker. The truth is that it is not their fault. They are just like us, people that love their families and are working hard to provide for them. We just come from different places.

Michael Kestler, CEO
Standard Tools and Equipment Co.

Welcome to the Standard Tools & Equipment Blog

Standard Tools and Equipment Co., operating as Tools USA and Eagle Equipment, is a trusted leader in the automotive aftermarket industry. Through their mail-order catalog and Web sites, they market hundreds of their manufactured products including frame machines, pulling posts and clamps, paint booths, truck paint booths and powder coating equipment.  Eagle Equipment is an internationally known supplier of automotive lifts and wheel service equipment.

The company has been recognized as one of Google’s “One Million Visitors” Web site as well as one of the Top 500 Online Retailers by Internet Retailer Magazine.

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