Founded in 2000 by owners Rafael and Trina Gonzalez, the Tools Man, Inc. dba The Tools Man Industrial Supply is a wholesale/retail tool company that offers over 25,000 maintenance, repair and operating (MRO) supplies, industrial equipment and tools. Despite major industry competitors, they had already achieved success with some $200,000 in commercial sales when they sought help from the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center and Florida SBDC in 2013.
The couple faced several challenges, including a desire to secure government contracts. Mike Bell, a Procurement Specialist at the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), quickly started the process that would launch The Tools Man beyond Broward’s borders. The first step for the company involved reframing and correcting official documents listed at federal agencies. The next hurdle was to create a compelling elevator pitch, convincing federal contracting officers that The Tools Man was the best fit.
“We first came to the Florida PTAC [and Florida SBDC] with fairly low expectations, given that one usually gets what one pays for,” the couple recalled in reference to the Florida PTAC and Florida SBDC's no-cost consulting services. “In the case of the Florida PTAC and Florida SBDC, the people who supported us - Angel Rentas, Parbatee Chang, and especially Mike Bell - have been professional, knowledgeable and most helpful.”
Both Trina and Rafael worked diligently with the Florida PTAC and Florida SBDC and absorbed every morsel of information. With the help of the Florida SBDC, they secured a sizable loan and created a lucrative website offering a myriad of industrial tools. Next, they received a government contract and increased their revenue.
“Our business has expanded due to our efforts and acumen, but buttressed by the highly valuable advice and support we continue to receive from the Florida PTAC and Florida SBDC.”
With the help of Bell, The Tools Man currently has 25,000 items on the General Services Administration (GSA) Advantage website – the online shopping and ordering system within GSA. Its mission is to provide a streamlined purchasing portal for federal agencies to acquire goods and services. The Tools Man was selected for a major contract with the Broward Sheriff’s Office to supply disposable gloves. They also landed a quarter million dollar bid with Broward County Airport for recycling trashcans.
The Tools Man Industrial Supply now has a proven track record. Trina and Rafael Gonzalez are local and national competitors who have surpassed their own expectations. They are currently pursuing opportunities beyond the GSA by chasing a Defense Logistics Agency bid. Support from the Florida PTAC and Florida SBDC has helped them realize their reach is only limited by the goals they set.