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Asking Tough Questions in the Forklift and Material Handling Industry With Don Myers

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

Mark Hiddleson

Don Myers is the General Sales Manager at J.M. Equipment. He started his career more than 40 years ago at Los Angeles Clark Lift and has enjoyed a successful career ever since. For over two decades, he has been a sales manager for two forklift and material handling dealerships with multiple locations in Northern California. Don has been a mentor for Mark Hiddleson for over a quarter of a century and has provided inspiration, support, and a vast number of business opportunities.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • How Don Myers got started in the material handling and lift truck industry

  • The importance of balancing work with family life

  • Tough questions to ask clients during sales calls

  • Don's experience working at Team Power and J.M. Equipment

  • Don talks about strategic alliances, his mentors, and the importance of being a mentor to others

  • Why leadership is a part of natural self-expression

  • Don shares tips for being a great salesperson

In this episode…

What does it take to become a great salesperson? What is the most efficient and effective process for conducting sales calls?

For Don Myers, there's more to being a salesperson than just making an appearance and listing the products you sell. You have to do the uncomfortable things to be successful. You must develop an attitude for asking clients tough questions. Building relationships is vital, and asking questions provides an excellent opportunity to learn more about your clients’ businesses and build rapport with them.

In this episode of The Tao of Pizza Podcast, Mark Hiddleson is joined by Don Myers, the General Sales Manager at J.M. Equipment, to talk about the importance of asking tough questions in the forklift and material handling industry. They also discuss strategies for being a successful salesperson, building strategic alliances, and the importance of balancing work with family life.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode...

This episode is brought to you by Specialized Storage Solutions Inc.


I have been in the logistics and storage industry for several decades. I know I don’t look that old, but it's true..

We provide industry-leading warehouse storage solutions nationwide.

So basically if you have a warehouse that needs Rack, Shelving, Carts, Conveyors or Mezzanines we help engineering, installations, inspections, and repairs to help clients optimize their logistics operations.

Sometimes people don’t even realize that we can actually help with permit acquisition services.

We take a look holistically at your entire business supply chain ecosystem to develop the resources for continually improving your operation.

To learn more, visit or give us a call at (707) 732-3892. One of the best ways to learn more about our products and services is to follow us on instagram. And there’s a link on our website to do that.

I will even give you my personal email address for podcast listeners so email me at if you’re ready to take your warehouse storage and retrieval systems to the next level.

Episode Transcript:

Intro 0:01

Welcome to The Tao of Pizza where we feature top logistics leaders, entrepreneurs, and supply chain innovators and share their inspiring stories with a holistic twist.

Mark Hiddleson 0:17

Mark Huddleson here, host of The Tao of Pizza Podcast, where I talk with top industry innovators in the warehousing, logistics, and supply chain business with a holistic twist. Before I introduce today's guest, Don Myers, this episode is brought to you by Specialized Storage Solutions. Listen, I've been in the logistics and storage industry for several decades. I know I'm not that old, but it's true. We provide industry-leading warehouse storage solutions nationwide. So basically, if you have a warehouse that needs racks, shelving, carts, conveyors, and mezzanines. We can help with design, engineering installations, inspections, and repairs to help clients optimize their logistics operations. You know, Don, sometimes people don't even realize we can actually help with permit acquisition services. We'll take a holistic look at your entire business supply chain ecosystem to develop the resources for continually improving your operation. To learn more, visit Or give us a call at 707-732-3892. I'll even give you my personal email for podcast listeners. Just email me at if you're ready to take your warehouse storage and retrieval systems to the next level. Today, we're joined by Don Myers. Don started his career better than 40 years ago at Los Angeles Clark Lift and has enjoyed a great career ever since. For the last two-plus decades he's been a sales manager for two different forklifts and material handling dealerships with multiple locations in Northern California. Don has been a mentor for me for over a quarter of a century. He's provided inspiration, support, and an incredible amount of business opportunities. Don, I think I may have told you this before. But you were the very first person I call when I started my company. And it was the right call. Thank you for joining us on The Tao of Pizza.

Don Myers 2:10

Order Mark. Thanks for that great intro.

Mark Hiddleson 2:15

It was there's the understatement of the year. There's really thank you I've been looking forward to this. When I was thinking of this project, you were the first person I called when I started my gun I remember Yeah, yeah. And you were one of the first people I wanted to interview on the show because you've been you have been just a great inspiration. So I am I'm curious I didn't realize I think I might have known you were a Southern California guy but how did you get started in the lift truck industry and material

Don Myers 2:48

handling industry back at that time I was working for Los Angeles seven up bottling company as an as major accounts representative selling lots of soda pop all over Southern California to the military bases to the airlines, the catering industry. That great job for a young guy with a couple of kids, you know, worked out pretty well. My best friend one of my guys was in my wedding 51 years ago. Yeah, access dating myself was working for a sparkling water company selling water. So similar, right, we were some liquid. He wandered into Park lift, Los Angeles cork lift and their Chatsworth facility and ran into a guy named Dick Besakih, who was CEO, Branch Manager and he said, “kid with that Spiel you should be down for it goes now water”. And the rest was history for Rick Lopez who owns his own company called National fleet leasing, but he dragged me in as his product support guy. And I've worked for Capitole there in Chatsworth, and then up in Ventura County during the year so the fruit fly infestation. So that was a costly experiment for me. And then governor and then the repeat governor. But after that, the sales manager there was joining forces with Clark with West in Sacramento, as John Curley earned he is a legendary James Bond looking kind of guy dynamics sales guy taught me lots of things like oh, we went for a ride, got into let's make a sales call in an MGB by the way, and I got John Urlacher in there and his suit and tie and he said, hey, where do you live? South Simi Valley. He said, well drive me there. He said, “why don't just drive me there”. So I drove over there. He said, Okay, I'll get out gonna ask you to goddang tie and let's look like real salesman. So I've that stuck. And as Mark knows, I wear a tie a lot, particularly in the winter when I can wear a sport coat, but I've learned that lesson as well as many other things. I'm John curvature, Rick Lopez, when we still do lots of businesses with the NFL, kind of a partnership on one of our product lines, but that was that was the auspicious start into the lift truck business. And John wished me way up to Sacramento and one of the best moves I'd ever made.

Mark Hiddleson 5:19

Yeah, the move from Southern Cal to Northern Cal and about how long ago was that?

Don Myers 5:25

Because he'll have 1980 1981 80 was when we moved up. Yeah. Nice. That's, that's a while back. Yeah. Yeah. So

Mark Hiddleson 5:39

the bed flight I can't so the fruit fly was called the medfly, right? Because it was, it was the medfly. Mediterranean fruit flies Mediterranean

Don Myers 5:48

fruit fly. Yeah, I had trucks on order. I was at the factory for some training and calling in your motor payphone. We had payphones in those days, you know, tin can and a string called in a in the same branch manager was saying, Hey, we just had another cancellation from this big fruit company and that fruit company, so they all canceled their orders. I went, I went to the factory thinking I was a sudden came back a popper. No way. We weathered then we weathered that. I guess either way, the interest rate was high.

Mark Hiddleson 6:26

I wanted to go back to the Medflight thing because we there was a funny family story that you remind me from back then. And my uncle used to be in construction. And he was staying with us because he had a project in Stockton. We lived in Ripon you know, which is pretty close. But my mom had baked a peach high. And it was during all this thing and everything. And she you know the refresh peaches, you know, we just enrichment or wherever you just got peaches from your neighbor, right and buy it at the store. So they were homegrown peaches. And she made this pie and she wasn't sure but she maybe thought that she saw some waterbay in there. Maybe it was just, you know the TV with all the hype. Yeah, buy in the refrigerator. And to make up her mind because he's like, I make this pie. I don't really want to throw it away. Well, my uncle woke up in the morning he was constructing. So he was up at Oh, dark 30 before everyone else. And he saw he's like all they made a pie. So he took a big old slice of the mudflow pie. And we did. Boy, he had to tell him, there was a reason that none of us had taken a bite out of it yet, but he thought it tasted pretty good.

Don Myers 7:36

So the Medflight pie, the Medflight pie, that's a good time.

Mark Hiddleson 7:42

Yeah. So you and you mentioned that all the mentors that you had. And that's, that's awesome that, that you shared that with me. And you were, you know, when I was a rookie for their material, how many salesmen are companies were kind of joined with I call it a strategic partnership or a networking partnership. Where in our business, you can really choose the for focus on forklifts or focus on racks. There's few people who do both really well. But it's tough to do both really well. And so our companies kind of formed an alliance. That's how we met. And I was the rookie, and then at that time, you had a little bit of seniority. And you taught me a lot not just about sales. I mean, you were super professional, I mean, the tie, we all wear a shirt and tie back then. And but he taught me a lot about, you know, family life and balance. And that, you know, it's important to be professional everything. But you really prioritized and made me appreciate because I always put I put my family first and some people were like, well, you know, your careers more important. They always support me were you know, I don't think I had any kids. I started having kids when we met and I wanted to make that a priority. You really supported me in that you mind sharing, you know why that's important. And I just really appreciate that. You know, 25 years later, I'm so thankful that I had mentors who gave me

Don Myers 9:06

advice. I'm honored that you'd give me credit for all of that. It's simple and basic, you know, kind of faith base that you what we do every day is to honor our family to put food on the table shelter, and hopefully, you know, if you do the job, right, you can throw in the extras and college education and those things that are important that we all strive for. I'll tell all my employees family first if they've got an issue and there, they need to be somewhere to be their family. Absolutely. Absolutely. We've as a company here and I'm very proud of our company. We rally around ours that need extra help. It's been it's been tough through the COVID thing of course we Gosh. Last Monday we came in and there were 11 people out with the COVID I call this the handshake COVID Because it's, thank God, it's not as severe as the original, the original dose, but you know, we do what's right for the family, we support them, we pay our people, well, I encourage my guys that the, the focus is on the family, after you've accomplished that, the rest of stuff kind of comes pretty easy. Picking your work day, don't, don't take it home with you, you know, don't don't get up in the middle of night worrying about it. If you organize yourself correctly, the job becomes so much easier. You know, there's there as I like to say, there's so many moving parts in the business that if if you get the machine out of whack, that means if you're honoring your, your job more than the family, it's not gonna work, that's just not going to work. If you plan your day you plan your sales calls. You say what you're going to do for a client? Do what you're gonna say, or tell them why you can't do what they say. Often the salesman will shrink from the hard questions. And believe it or not, one of the hard questions is turns out is Mr. Customer, how would you like to pay for this? How do you How would you like to acquire your your material handling equipment? I can't tell you how many times they've come to me for something I said, Well, let's talk about how they're going to pay for this. Oh, I better go ask him. What do you mean? So that's what I mean, a lot of moving parts. And keeping your customer informed along the way, keeping your family informed along the way. That's important. I always say you can be extremely successful in this business, we're going to half a day. And all you got to do is pick which 12 hours. Simple as that.

Mark Hiddleson 11:49

And there are what are some of the I love the tough questions, because I think you taught me how to be a professional and there's things that even though you know those uncomfortable, it almost reminds me of cold calling, that in the beginning, it's something that you have to do that, you know, it's it's what's going to make you successful in the long run is building these contacts. And I don't even call it cold calling. I call it a warm introduction. I'm gonna go and do warm introductions, the way of reframing it, but what are some of the other questions that you want us you want to ask up front that make your job easier that, you know, it makes your client to if you're talking about how they're going to pay for it? I'm sure it's top of mind for them.

Don Myers 12:38

Right. Right. You know, the, I always say first of all cold calls. You're right when we were new at this, it's a little scary can go in and ask for some business. Well, yeah, you can't. You can't that as it turns out, you can. Even through COVID. You know, we still I still make calls, we make calls some sometimes now everybody gets caught up in Salesforce and digital contacts and all that. I think they're great. They're great for organizing your day. They're great for remembering stuff. But this is still a belly button to belly button business. People want to reach out and touch you. They want to know the sincerity of which you're going to deal. You can't be a yes, man. When you go into see a client, you have to ask open ended questions that reveal their motivation. For example, someone will call up and you know, they need you to send them a quote for a used forklift. Well, as my favorite hunting ground, I don't send quotes, I don't send quotes at all. If you've got some time for me, Mr. Customer happy happy to stop by there's too much at stake for the both of us for me to just send you a quote. And chances are, if he's asking for a quote, he's already got the one picked out he wants he just wants to show his boss he's he's making the right decision, right? There's nothing better than to destroy somebody else's deal by doing the job correctly, which is go visit them sit down and guess what on the first visit, or you can ask anything. For example, on your first visit, you can say, Gee, what is it that you do here? I only coming Great. On the third or fourth visit and you say why would you say that? What is it that you do here? Now which one is better to ask? So so that's kind of that's kind of the the reason you want to ask everything on the first visit everything you can think of without being you know, idiotic, but really, you're not going to offend a guy by you're in fact, you're going to flatter the guy. You know, what is it that you do? Oh, you all look fantastic. This impressive facility or whatever you're going to say? Who else would be involved in this decision? What's your motivation? Why do you need this? Where are you going with it? How are How hard are you going to use the machine So often, salesmen were nervous when salesmen like electricity, like water, you know, they'll go to the the easiest point of contact, and so on a salesman so bad, I gotta use trucks sale for 12,000 bucks or whatever it is. But was it the right thing for the client? And if you dig a little deeper, I'm convinced, not just convinced I've done it in my personal sales career, and I've done it a number of times for my salesmen asking the simple question that can be offensive, and simply is, okay, now that we have all of the facts, and thank you for deciding on that. You'd like to buy a used forklift for $12,000. Let me ask you this. When are you planning on going out of business? Provocative question to ask a client, right.

But the fact the fact of the matter is, I can justify to a light user or to a heavy user easier with a heavy user, but a light user why that forklift, which is now going to be a fixed asset should be the best you can possibly do. And don't get the secret outlet for cars break and $1,000 bills, I mean, it is expensive to repair a forklift, just by the time the guy goes out to look under the hood, it's 500 bucks. And if you fix this, the darn thing more than that. And then we hit built in obsolescence, you know, that is Mark built in obsolescence is making your whole warehouse a, an eight foot aisle, when you know darn well that down the road, they're going to need to have it narrower or wider. So either way, they're stuck with something that's going to be expensive. That's, you know, forklift, if you you buy a used truck for 12 grand, and then down the road, it breaks and there's two or three grand, and then God forbid you have a transmission or an engine, that's six or $7,000. Now you've got this five to eight year old machine that you've got 20,000 bucks in that, that we're gonna make it work. And that's built in obsolescence. So try trying to convince the customer what's best for their budget. It's tough. But it's tougher if you don't ask those questions in advance. And is there a time where it's an appropriate sale? Yeah, sometimes we have a real cream puff truck and the guy's application fits it. But I'll know that by asking those questions. How are you going to use it? What are you going to do? The classic for not just sending the quote as often, we would or not, they'll call in you get a giggle out of this because you get this as well. Okay, how high do you stack your products? Well, we need 25 for the lift. Excuse me. Yeah. We want to counterbalance forklift that goes 25 feet near. We don't particularly make that. But let's, let's have me with a tape measure over there. Turns out they only needed a 15 and a half foot lift, right 187 Three states a standard of our industry, but they have no conception or perception of what their needs actually are. Unless you go look, if you go look, it's amazing what you can do. It is also goes to throughput. So we can talk about that later what throughput is. But anyway, I hope that answers the question for ya.

Mark Hiddleson 18:09

You reminded me of, of two things. One is, you know, in the early days, and I was doing a lot of I was doing a lot of cold calling in those days. It got easier as I went on. But the leaves I used to give you all remember, I'll never forget, like everybody who was looking for a forklift back then, you know, late 90s, early 2000s They wanted a $5,000 Sit down propane use 455 Yeah, and in so in, which kind of didn't exist. And what's funny is people are still looking for a $5,000 formula, even though things that double so now I guess that $12,000 Lift is what the $5,000 lift was back then. But even back then it was 12 grand and they just wanted to start at 5000 Yeah, so you were never bashful and that was you know, I worked with multiple reps over the years and one of the things I loved about you is it didn't matter what that they were looking for a lot of salespeople to sit up guys looked at for 5000 pounds it doesn't exist guys and knucklehead you would always follow up and have those questions I remember I gave you guy was a plumbing it was the nose first name was Bill but he was opening a plumbing company they wanted a $5,000 lift. But it turns out you remember what happened with that guy? They ended up they leased new they leased a brand new forklift?

Don Myers 19:39

Yeah, I no doubt use that same question on them the fixed asset if you can. The thing about sales is thinking on your feet and simply asking an answering their question with a question. It really reveals a lot. And what you know what's to worry about if you buy a used forklift? Well that you're gonna get me a great machine. I have this other theory that's called transference. Everybody wants to transfer their responsibility to somebody else. Right? They want they I told you what I needed. Now it's your problem that it didn't work, right, that's transfer. So their boss told them to go out and get a cherry forklift, and he only had five grand to spend. And so now he wants to transfer that burden to Don Myers why I liked that, being in that position, but let me if I'm going to accept that responsibility, let's be realistic about what it is, it's going to do to fix your business. And if I remember almost correctly, that that type of situation, the worst thing you can do, if you're starting out something where you're going to depend on a material handling piece of equipment, to better be the best that you can do. The cheapest thing is always just the monthly payment all sound like a car salesman there, right? But it's really true. You buy a new truck and you you consume it, it'll last twice as long as getting a used truck even more than that, you know, and I've been back I'd like to think that I've, I can visit any place I've ever sold a forklift, and not be embarrassed to go inside. Now, that's not to say that they didn't force their will. And they bought a used truck. And it turned out to be a disaster. But I guarantee you, I probably replaced it with a new one. And they they got a financial education. Yeah. Well, the other thing you reminded me of other than that, you know, the $5,000, forklift leasing a new forklift,

Mark Hiddleson 21:36

I just released an interview a couple of weeks ago with one of my clients, David Smith, and he's, you know, operating multiple facilities, and they did a truck, I forget exactly what was called, that's in the show notes of that show. But they showed where they were losing money. And these were over the road, I think it was lift trucks and delivery truck, it was all they looked at their whole fleet. And they had ways they were doing employee satisfaction surveys, customer satisfaction about breakdowns, stuff not getting delivered. And they figured that it was costing them money to have this older fleet that they actually made money by by replacing going through email was a big was a big company, a lot of trucks big study. So it's worth it for our clients, you could share that resource with your clients, as David was really articulate about it and how they go How do you measure employee says a driver satisfactorily because like we have these surveys that there was a company, they made them up, we gave it they tabulated the data, we had a way to, you know, count all those metrics. So it's, it makes common sense. But then also the prove that you know what, study? So that's a that's a great point. And the great and the good salespeople are going to find what's clients and get them into the right. The right truck the right system. For us, it's the right system. Yeah, you get you get

Don Myers 23:03

to where you you've identified what's going to be the best fit for them financially, you get to what works, always the best solution is new equipment is going to yield the lowest cost. We have customers that use their forklift, a couple 100 hours a year. harder to justify knew of that, I get that. But for the most part, the average user, if he only uses it 500 hours a year, which is half the standard, I guess, well, at least gonna have the thing for 20 years, I've often told the guy especially in a small business, if if indeed that's that's the case, you're gonna retire with this machine, and it'd be a fixed asset, it's not going to cost you a lot of money. So it works either way, right? It just works either way that you find the solution. And then we have guys on the other end, we just delivered porticoes to a company that wanted to lease things for 60 months, and they want to put 3500 hours a year. Well, that's that's a ton of use. That's 1000s and 1000s of miles if it were an automobile, you know, we equate a medium user the damage and use on the forklift is about 35 miles to one hour of use. So you start adding that up. So what was the solution? We went down to a 36 month lease, the lease payment was higher but the maintenance was slower. So 36 months they'll come out with 10,000 hours on and in the trucks that we sell are a little add for my product, right? But they're so reliable that a 10,000 Our truck of any one of my brands is still flyable still usable. We have 1400 or so rental assets. And a lot of those are north of 10,000 hours we have a J.M. Equipment company has an in house leasing company where we own the asset is a tremendous advantage, particularly to our margin users. And we can give you volumes of references of guys that do this with us, we'll put a truck in for, let's say, 36 months, we're partners in it, right, because we own the asset, we want to use it afterwards. So let's say we're in the 25th month of a 36 month contract, and that thing is topping over 10,000 hours, we will come in, replace it with an identical brand new machine at the same rate. And we'll take that forklift out and we'll utilize it either as a used truck or into our rental fleet. But the customer's not going to bear the burden of those additional hours and additional dollars me in additional breakdown. In no matter who's paying for the repair on a guaranteed contract, we'd be paying for the repair. So there's where our part of the partnership is good for us. But what's he paying for the most expensive thing on the forklift is the operator you know, the operator the forklift is gonna run, depending on what they're doing with it, well under $5 an hour to run asset and maintenance, right? or there abouts. The operator, he may be paying that guy $25 An hour $18, or even at minimum wage, 16 or 15, whatever minimum wages, depending on which party you vote for. It's gonna be it's gonna be the most expensive part. If that guy sitting around doing nothing, then who's bearing that expense? So it all works out just and it always goes back to that first interview, ask anything, you won't offend anyone. If you ask directly, even my stop gap question on certain clients, when you plan on going out of business. In other words, you've just given me an order. I had a guy come in, I can document the story, if you like, yeah, the guy. One of my salesmen, one of my salesmen was sending the guy and as often happens, they're out in the field and says, Billy Bob's gonna stop by to take a look at us lift. I got one all picked out for him. At what, these days lifts are a lot more expensive, right? It's a $19,000 us truck that had about 8000 hours. That's a nice machine. He came in, let him drive. We drove around. He said, okay, yeah, I'll take it. I said, Great. We had a nice chat. And then we walked up to wherever the new equipment is. And I said, Look, I got to ask you, when you plan on going out of business, and it took, and he left here buying a brand new Nomad from us, and he's happy as hell. So I had an order in the bag. I didn't have anything to risk. You want to entertain this thought or you don't want to entertain the suck. Being being brash is way different than being bold. I like to think that being bold is a good thing. Asking the bold questions and brash questions could get you in trouble. And again, I caution salesmen, particularly thinner skin or younger salesmen. Be careful with that when you're going out of business. Because if you're talking to a guy in IBM, that will probably be a silly question, right. Get it, sir. Yeah, it is.

Mark Hiddleson 28:09

I mean, it's the tough questions in the in the half do. I was listening to a sale. I don't listen to much sales. Things anymore. But there was a podcast. I forget. While I was listening to it was Jeffrey, how do you pronounce his last name Gitomer, the guy who wrote The Sales Bible?

Don Myers 28:26


Mark Hiddleson 28:29

Gitomer. And he was on a podcast, he was somewhere and I can't even remember I'll have to. I'll have to go back. I'll put it on the show notes. But he was one of his things was he said he would tell the client in the beginning said nobody does this. He goes I have a full hour with the slides and presentations that I think is real worthwhile. He goes, Do you want to go through that? Or do you want to place the order right now? Before? Before they were like, well, we've looked at everything we were just kind of kind of ordered, and then he'll say okay, let's let's, let's see. Let's just get the whole again, bold question. Yeah, it's a bold question. And he may at least get people thinking it's kind of funny in that I love humor. I mean, humor is something that that I've used in the business you can ask kind of some of those tougher questions because obviously it's a little tongue in cheek you know, when are you going out of business? You had to build a rapport to ask that and then absolutely, you got to be at the right spot. So that's a good one for cold calling. walk in the door and say I'm involved in material handling and we're all solutions when are you going out of business? Yeah, too soon. To time. I'll try it. I'll try it. So while we're having fun when I first started my company, you just started with the you know, you had to start he had been for IG been for a while working for for Team power. In

Don Myers 29:57

201. When we when we got together I was at high school. I was many years before team power,

Mark Hiddleson 30:02

but then when I that was 97. But then when I started my company in 2005 Oh 202 1005 I

Don Myers 30:09

was a sales manager, General Sales Manager for Joe Hensler at Team powered forklifts. I had 20 years. So career with with the, with the highster branded for lots of various reasons I thought I was at at a mere 50 years old, I thought that if I could sell this stuff and make this kind of money, man, I could sell anything. So I took a year off, it was fantastic year, again, family oriented. I thought I was rich. And then and then all of a sudden I say I guess I better go back to work. And I done some stuff with with Mr. Lopez and LFL quickly figured out it at the level at which I was operating. I needed service behind me it just wasn't gonna work to just be a freelance equipment salesman, there's so much more to it. And the Jo handler at I'd sold some Lindy lift trucks for him, which is one of my favorite trucks to sell. And he made me an offer I couldn't refuse, went to work for him in 2002 1001, I think went to work for him. So that's the 2005 I would have been the GSM for him and I would have stayed there. I liked working for Joe Joe's a terrific fellow. In fact, I just spent the weekend at the racetrack with some of my old colleagues from from T power for consoles. A good good reunion was a good group he operated family was important to Joe and some of the some of the things that I can glean off of Joe mentoring. I think he mentored you a bit about this famous saying if you're going to be a business owner, the real estate you're on I think that we all enjoy that and seems that the companies that I run across the scene the most successful, that's what they see, don't do. So that was good. But Joe had some some issues and these decide to sell the company and otherwise I probably still be with fortunately I some four years later wound up here. You know, it sounds patronizing, but it's really not I should have been here my whole career. This is a terrific place to work the there were six owners took me a couple years to figure out if I wanted to work for him because I had one Jo handler that was enough. The guy that bought it rough Logan and Chris valance way was the sales manager there. I like both those guys, I had nothing to guess I learned lots of stuff from both. Both those guys, I made good money. So it took about a two year process for him to convince me to come over and say at six owners at the time. So I don't know that I could work that way. But as it turns out, that worked out fine. Three of those guys have since retired. And the three that are laughter. While they all were 100% of salt of the earth guys and and Adi Bergen who I directly report to the president of our company. He's a terrific guy, and, again, acts as a mentor to us and the rest of the crew. And we learned one thing, here's a secret but out about it. If he's asked me a question, he already knows the answer. And I've tried to I've tried to live up to this a little harder, he makes it look easy. But we have that our CFO is buttoned down as a CFO should be and some sometimes CFO is rules are harder to live by. But again, at the beginning of the process, we have certain ways that we do business, we let our customers know in advance Mark, when you're supposed to tell a guy how we'd like to be paid, not when he wants to sign the contract. But while he's thinking about the contract, right. So again, say anything, inform anything, you know, gee, we need to have you fill out this credit application to get you all set up. You and I just did a transaction. And that was you're sitting in the meeting. That was one of the things I have to know in the meeting if you recall an application to do business with me. Yeah, I'm thank you for that. That worked out great. Or is working out great. So

Mark Hiddleson 34:05

yeah, and I mean, you do seem with JM like the whole time you've been with with JM I have a funny story. I'm going to tell one on you. But he just, you know, every time I call you and I asked you, you know how's things going because you've got multiple dealerships that you're involved with Salinas. There's one in Fresno than tikka is where your base which is real close to us. And he just seemed like and they're not even real like that lease when you were describing the lease and the buyback and how you work with the client when the time when you're looking at. That's what I call the holistic solution. You're not going well you guys have the 36 month contract, you gotta pay for it, if there's going to be extra repairs, but then you've kind of just in the way you set it up. It's in your best interest because those repairs are coming back to you. And so you're really doing what's what's best

Don Myers 34:55

for you. It's a partnership we share in that the use and the distance bution of that asset with the client. You're right, if and I have comes across my desk often, and sometimes we have people that they'll ask for outside financing. And if your business change, guess what? You can't just send the lease truck back not to anybody. Yes, yes. And I've done it a number of times, we are now facing a tremendous obstacle, which is a current governmental administration that wants everything to turn electric. And it's kind of an unfair mandate. And I got to tell you that in the material handling industry, not just the brands I sell, we started selling electric lift trucks in like 1947. So we've always had electric lift trucks and in all recent history, dating way back to maybe in before 2010, we were 60% of electric. Everything we sell my industry, not just us. And that's some 200,000 forecasts a year sold what we call the ITA count. On all dealerships combined, about 200,000 forecasts are sold annually. And out of that 60% of electric vehicles. Now automotive guys would love to claim that except of course, the Tesla and the guys that are all electric anyway, right. But to come to us and tell us that we will no longer be able to sell propane, or diesel powered forklifts in the state of California after 2025 or 26 are given us a little leeway maybe is absolutely ludicrous. It's absolutely almost impossible. Is it possible at a number of our agricultural guys and we're driven maybe 90% by ag or ag related clients, they'll call up for 20 rental trucks to be delivered on the corner this and that. And they plow it over and put a portable ramp in there and they're doing melons out in the middle of the field. Well, there's no place to plug a charger in, in the offices that are still running internal combustion vehicles. They may be 67 year old buildings and only barely have to await and to drop enough power into run 20 electric lift trucks could cost them a half million dollars. I mean, seriously running more power from the street, put the drops into the building. That a chief and so that's unfair to put on to agriculture. Yeah, never, never mind. The fact that the dirty little secret about electric vehicles is the tremendous amount of internal combustion. Fuel it takes to mine that lithium or to process lead. And to top it all off. The majority of the country is still fossil fuel driven on their electric plants. Then in the east, the further east you go the more colder use

Mark Hiddleson 37:52

it how am I as cold? My favorite cartoons? Is a Prius. plugged into a coal plant. It's a little cartoon. Thing is a little puffs of smoke.

Don Myers 38:06

Yeah, we are polluting the air to make clean energy. Yeah. Is it feasible? Yeah, of course, it's feasible. I think it's a great idea if you could power it with a solar solar battery, you know, a charger is fine up, we have

Mark Hiddleson 38:21

some of that. We need news, if until he go nukes we're not it's not going to be sustainable to do you know,

Don Myers 38:29

electric it's not, it's not and we have one nuclear power plant. Barely, that they want to close that it provides 78% of the power for the state. So probably not a good idea. There's nothing wrong. I think it's Diablo Canyon, right? I think it's still operating. And I want the governor saying that might not be a bad idea to leave it open. But what I've heard and I don't have an actual answer for this, or I did run into ground to make sure I'm not spreading rumors. France is about the same amount of square miles as the state of California, the entire country of France would fit inside of California. We have one nuclear power plant, they have 51. And they're 51 aren't new, they're old as well. And so now the shocking thing that solicited KPK all the guys that built those plants that are either dead or very retired, so we don't know how to build it. I don't buy that, particularly that will have some young minds that can put this together. And they

Mark Hiddleson 39:25

were all built before computers were anything how they are now. So I've read that the safety is so much I mean, those plants were built with a slide rule, though, you know, engineers were still using slide rules when they and I'm only took engineering. I know what the slide rule is. I can't use it. Because by the time I was in engineering, you got to HP that calculator, you know the he could do all that stuff. But yeah, we can now that it's just the safeties better everything you know, for newts, but a lot of when they Good news, that one of the one of those

Don Myers 40:03

that have a slide rule, difficult to use.

Mark Hiddleson 40:08

So there's a, I have a funny story about one of the things I've done in my career, we've had strategic alliances like you have. And we have an interesting relationship too, because I wanted to bring this up. You're kind of a competitor, or you have eight or 10 guys who are kind of they're selling some of the same things we sell.

Don Myers 40:31

What's that? 14 of them,

Mark Hiddleson 40:33

but you have 14 So 14 of my competitors that I'm giving all my inside secrets, but one of the things I've done in this you know, we've done projects with you I've done projects with RJ and turns out I played all star Babe Ruth baseball with a and that's one of the things I love about oh, I didn't know that the small industry didn't know that. Oh, no. Yeah, we were. We were on the All Star baseball team for the league we're in was Newman Patterson, Ripon river bank, in there, all these Babe Ruth teams, and it was like two or three players off of each one. But yeah, RJ I'm out. We're in, like 1983. But, uh, I did a presentation. I remember when you were with Team power. I did the Whitewater. So you had six or seven, maybe maybe eight reps in that room. And and it was a good way for me to it's kind of like this, introduce myself to more people. Get a face to face with your guys. And we'll never forget. But you had another rep. From from Iraq manufacturer, Lloyd. And I gave a speech and I thought it was a pretty good speech. I spy totally minute and everybody was happy. And then your next guest unceremoniously asked me to leave the room.

Don Myers 42:01

So embarrassing. You were kind enough to do so that smacked him upside the head.

Mark Hiddleson 42:08

So I want to I want to come back. And so I'm wondering, Am I welcome to come back? Absolutely.

Don Myers 42:16

First and foremost, I don't think we've ever changed our relationship. Now. Secondly, you're actually a customer. You buy lift trucks from me. Thank you, Casey. Yeah, yeah. Mark's wife enjoys having great equipment. And so I shouldn't be just calling on her instead of him to get those new lifts out there.

Mark Hiddleson 42:32

He's the one who believes in the lead. Like you said, it's a new piece of equipment. And she's like, we're in this business. And she's like, Don Myers is your best friend. You better have a good fourth, why don't want to go in there and see, so I mean, he's got this T cells that Greg Clark does a beautiful green one. And then when you are with JM was the other one was the D so it's a Nissan it's called the it's nuclear. Yeah. It's funny, because people will ask me the details about about cotton. I asked Don, what I needed. He told me what it was and how much I signed the sign the dotted line.

Don Myers 43:09

But I wanted to ask you,

Mark Hiddleson 43:10

I mean, there's a couple last questions that I want to ask you. You know, we share some hobbies, with with cars and that. But we've also, we've both we've had some people in common that we've mentored, they've done phenomenally well. Oh, yeah. And I'm just curious, like, what are some of the proudest moments of your career thinking back? You've had a lot of great people working for you, but and you've worked for some great people. I mean, Joe Henzler.

Don Myers 43:42

And what were the first mentors that you mentioned in the beginning? Well, giant earlier Rick Lopez and Logan best and I talk several times a week usually it's we we both sell unitary product and he's shipping a bunch of unit carrier product into my territory now, which we partner in so what can be better, right? But yeah, I've had a lot of guys along the way in there, there's, if you're, if you're going to be good at this, you should open yourself up to other sales guys. I like to say I didn't really think anything myself, I stole it from everybody else. And working with quality sales when I can shave off a ton of guys that some with some that aren't with us that really set the bar for me, you know, early on when I went to work for highster like 84 I think 8384 The the branch manager there my first big commission check I want to thank you so don't take me back the client. That was good, you know, and that stuck with me. The clients are important you they come first you can't you can't become successful. But excuse me in this business. You If it's not a good deal for both parties, you just can't. You can hold your head high. Like I said earlier, I can go anywhere I've ever sold a lift truck if it if it didn't work out. It wasn't because we didn't try or it wasn't because I didn't trust him by what was right for all right. Let's still you can still show it and hold your head high. I think it says a lot. While so the old school used car salesman types. They can't go in places that that they've done business.

Mark Hiddleson 45:32

Yeah, I was. That was one of the things that when I was a rookie in material handling business, I just come out of the car business actually worked my way through college working at the Swift dealerships in Sacramento. Oh, yeah. And I quickly became a manager. I was just trying to work my way through school, but I was passionate about about cars. I mean, that's one of the things that we share in common. I see you've got the picture of a hot rod behind me. What what is that? I can't tell what it is from what I'm seeing.

Don Myers 46:06

That's a Shelby Cobra.

Mark Hiddleson 46:08

Shelby Cobra. Yeah.

Don Myers 46:10

There's a Mustang over there. Show me autographed photos that someone one of my friends gave me so nice. Pretty cool.

Mark Hiddleson 46:22

Nice. Yeah, those are cool. But he told me to be proud of that. I mean, I was a little bit shy. I mean, I felt like I was different, like that was going to school. So it was a great way to make a living with flexible hours and learn. Like I wanted to go into sales. And I don't think there's really a better like, I can't think of a better place to learn sales where people are coming in off the street, and they're automatically already don't like you. They're mad at you all the time and defense in what was it that was one of the things I loved about cold calling is I was like, man, I've been doing this for five years, having people come in, I had to take whatever came in, it was a kind of a relief to say, I want to look at the companies I want to do business with and go in, put my best foot forward. But uh I think I want you to combine the cars question in the in the leadership. I mean, I think you're a person that that leadership is just a part of your, your natural expression of who you are. And what do you think, you know, whether it's your hobbies or habits or, you know, what do you think? Why do you think that leadership is a part of your natural self expression?

Don Myers 47:32

Well I don't know, I guess. Attitude is everything, you know, you've driven by attitude, your health is driven by attitude. And I think you and I have discussed that. You what the mind can conceive the body can mind can precede the body can can see right, is that

Mark Hiddleson 47:55

I get that right of the mind can conceive and believe the body can achieve?

Don Myers 47:59

Yeah, that's exactly right. So I went to a training early on, there was the managers, communicator coach and counselor, right. And so sometimes I have to turn my collar around and become father Myers. And other times, I have to be the disciplinarian and I, I try to manage out of enthusiasm. I have, I'm known around here for a year, everything's fantastic. And I don't think that's fantastic. But the, to me, no one here is at a higher station than any other that that simply put, I have people that have a variety of jobs here we have 190 employees, they don't all report to me at teak, we have set a location so. So in this group, the time clock is right outside my window here in the in the the jam facility, and I love nothing more than the greeting our people. And that's kind of what, what I apply set my life at is that you're you're an important part of our group. You know, when it comes to customer, our clients that are clients, employees that want to do something, I'll do nothing but encourage them the things they need to do, I've had a number of people as technicians or other positions in our company that have risen to the job of sales, and that that all comes from the enthusiasm that I give them and then the direction of if, if you want to become a salesman, how would you prepare for and give them some building blocks to do that? But I think the way that you present something, we have two examples of too much enthusiasm wouldn't be the last president and not enough would be the current president. So somewhere in the middle, you figure out what's going to be good.

Mark Hiddleson 49:50

It's and it's tension between between that it's not one side and not kind of sloppy in the middle but that's a great that's a great point. And how do you have a tension between? For me, I'd say enthusiasm and authenticity. For me. It's, it's important to be authentic. But I'm the same way. It's the language you use and what the mind can conceive and believe the body can achieve. And that's a great answer. And you started to go into, and I love this, because I think, especially in this business, if you have a background in parts or your PSR, you know, I forget what those things stand for. But services and support rep parts, or stand for park services, parts of service, parts service, and some, you're talking about people different. What what are some of those things? I mean, we're running late. But if you were preparing for a career and sells it, you had experience in the business, what are what are a few of those things you'd say to do to prepare yourself? Because I think you do need to prepare spells is there's challenges, right? So

Don Myers 50:56

there are challenges it and it is to do the scary. You know what to do the scariest? Yeah, lots of folks are afraid to get up and talk in public. You could be that guy and be a successful salesman was pretty hard to do. Develop, first, your attitude, first gratitude. I don't owe you anything, if you come to work for me, there's an opportunity and it's a mutual opportunity, I'm taking the risk that you're going to be worth the investment that my company is going to make in you. And you're going to take a risk that what I'm bringing to you as a genuine opportunity. And I know it is I mean, I know the opportunity. I know this business, if you do this job correctly, then one of my favorite things is if I've got salesmen in house, nobody hears buying lift trucks, if you want to go out there, but besides that, I mentioned throughput, and that's a great place for young salesperson to get their chops. When I started, I've learned that early on about asking questions, and I learned not to just show up and throw up right which means don't show up. They're safe. And we got four coats we got rack we got pallet jacks, we got this, we got that. You can't do that. Because if you don't need something at the mall, you don't stop there do if you need something at the mall, you go there for specific thing, our jobs a little more difficult, we have to identify that that which you didn't know you needed. Is that fair to say it that way? It is? How you do that is you have to get inside of the building. And you have to maybe bait the hook sometimes for a client by asking subtle questions. Oh, tell me about that. Why do you do this? Why do you do that? Okay. And don't immediately say I could sell yourself for that. When you're surmising at the end of the day, I guess my ideas for that. Let me bring them back to you. Why do I want to do that? I want a second visit because on the second visit, I haven't ordered more. Right? So the inquisitive nature is something they need to work on their attitude if when I come in the morning and I say good morning to people, and they say how are you doing? That's not fantastic. You know why I work with you? And I'm sincere. I love it. That I came with it, they do mock me with it because that's that's that helps the whole overall environment. You know, I like to think again, that being the cheerleader, builds my enthusiasm. And there if anybody's listening is particularly new new salesman, yeah, truly making those cold calls is the most fun you'll ever have. And Mark will tell you that the beauty of this business is you never know on a given day what opportunity is going to come your way you may come in to work wherever we're at by the end of the day you might have had the biggest opportunity of your life come across your desk and those those happen by not sending a guy quote over the over the internet you go see I'd rather just not sending a quote at all if they don't want to see me because chances are you're just the backup bit

Mark Hiddleson 54:04

yeah you're just creating I call it the lumber you know that's just you got a month a stack of quotes this big but you don't have any real clients in in in our business the racking the for whom it's the same been in the building I mean physically seeing what's going on, there's always stuff you see that you can't get over the phone. And then the most important thing like you're saying is developing that relationship where you are again, you know, assess their needs and make value added suggesting that those are just great. Those are great points makes me want to go into sales.

Don Myers 54:40

Come on drawn down and get you territory. Oh, and

Mark Hiddleson 54:42

you are Yeah, if you if I ever call you and I want a job. I'm hoping that you'll hire me to run your material handling partner division to give you a

Don Myers 54:53

brand new pickup. Yeah.

Mark Hiddleson 54:57

You know how to get rid of my old 10 year old Corvette.

Don Myers 55:02

I can't imagine it's 10 years old by now, but I guess it's the second one, right? Yeah. Yeah.

Mark Hiddleson 55:08

So what's your what's your big car? Tell me I know you have this awesome Mustang, this one all kinds of work. Tell me about the Mustang?

Don Myers 55:18

Well, it's a 67 Mustang Fastback and it's I, as as a hobbyist things you got to have, you got to have your alphabets, you know, there you can go too far with the career, you if you take it home with you, it's bad for the family, and learn, if you organize your day ways, then you can go home with a clear mind. And you need to have a release, whatever your art is, I have a couple of different arts that I do. But when it comes to the car, I've had many I've put together many this is probably the most extensive build that I did. It's it's been published in a magazine, and it's won all kinds of different awards. But it served as a little internal motivation. It was mostly built on areas where I made additional dollars bonuses and large commissions over various projects. And I built it and it's done so well simply because I didn't want to settle for something less. And I have a large group of, of hotrod buddies that No, no, just do this and you'll have it on the road. It took me seven years to build the thing. But for me that was that was the release. There's nothing like putting something new and shiny on your project car and then sit back in the garage, crack a beer and go, Man, am I cool?

Mark Hiddleson 56:46


Don Myers 56:49

That's what that's what that hobby provides plus you, you will meet the world's greatest people that these types of things, you know, cars, car functions and such. Yeah,

Mark Hiddleson 56:59

yeah, I love car shows. And there's a I don't know if I'm supposed to sell this or not. But I remember he told me a story that yours is. You did everything like a Shelby, but it's not the actual Shelby, but you've won, people get pissed because your car is nicer than the actual Shelby was that. That's true. Because I love that. I love that.

Don Myers 57:25

I mean, the add that you know, an original Shelby GT 500 is 150 $185,000 car. I, it's not hard to make it better than original. It's that original is using maybe acrylic paint. And then and you can't have anything cool on it. In today's automotive world. There's everything's available my car is is I think faster and original Shelby, it's got four wheel disc brakes. It's got an explosion proof gas tank, it's got a fuel shutoff system, and it's got extra frame support. It has a restraint system that surpasses what you might find on the original cars. There's just a lot about it that that makes it the faster, safer and jump over small buildings with St. Mt.

Mark Hiddleson 58:19

I just watched the movie and like that's a grand Torino that he jumps like, he could probably do that with your Mustang just like exactly

Don Myers 58:27

fly us. No, it is it is at that car shows because of the paint base coat, clear coat, paint PPG colors, it just pops. You know, it just doesn't and you put it next to an original. The originals are, you know, six year old machine and they looks 60 In some cases, and some are are marvelously restored. And gosh, I've take one in a heartbeat. Yeah. And you get flak when you when you know the the best form of flattery is by this copying, right? Yeah. So I've never shown it and claimed it to be the original ever. People come and say I suppose it's what we call in the the old resto mod or a tribute car clone, if you will, not my favorite term clone. But it's done so well because it is what it is. I have other Mustang here, guys that will give me a bad time about it. But I say well, it's it has done how it's done because as well as it's done because it is what it is. I took it to Knott's Berry Farm. And I met a guy from local magazine called Car Craft and they published four pages in Car Craft on the car based on not being a con but the level of the restoration act at that. At that same show. I was invited by the President of the Los Angeles chapter the Shelby America club to show the car on the Santa Monica Pier. They got such a kick out Out of the the blend of honoring the original car. But what it could be today with modern conveniences that's why it took so long to build. It's got a it's got a five speed transmission in it, I can get out on the freeway and drop it into fifth gear and it gets great mileage and we could go to my garage right now drive to LA and the darn thing. I've trailered it's not a trailer queen, but I trailer it so that was we have trouble. Usually it's four or five or eight of us go in at one time. Somebody has trouble take mine off the trailer and we'll put theirs on until we can get it fixed. I had a unique experience of calling a guy's pick up from Knott's Berry Farm all the way back up to Dell high up by Sherlock Modesto area. A guy's 49 pickup that wouldn't go any further. He was trying to get triple A to tow it all the way home that wasn't working. So I didn't know the guy but he was a friend of a friend. Right? So yeah, that's right. Good Karma man. And we're driving along and I call back to the guy and my buddy is driving my car. I say, hey, we need gas in that thing. Yeah. And he says no, I said, Man was supposed to be doing pretty well on the mileage. He says, well done. You never drive at 55 miles an hour. Oh, yeah. There's that. But yeah, I don't I you know, it seems sometimes folks will think it's egotistical, but it's not. I like going to car shows. Because you get great stories from people that their dad had one or their whoever are they're building. What do I enjoy those stories? How did you do this? Where did you find that is just good camaraderie and achievements that you make personal life. My granddaughter in her third year at ASU? It's an achievement. Nice. Yeah. Your car doing well. Other things that I do. I do some stuff with the University of Pacific and that that's been a lifelong pursuit. So I think if you divide up compartmentalize things is so much stronger for your mind. I know that you take a great deal of pride in your family. I think the things that I admire, mark where the hell you been? I couldn't get a hold yet. I was in Australia surfing. I love that was fantastic. So your World Adventures I live vicariously by?

Mark Hiddleson 1:02:19

Yeah, we're overdue for those big vacations. But we have we've made family a priority. I love the story about your car. It's a it's a beautiful story because you took the time you did it right. And even though it's not the exact car, I mean, all those reasons that makes it unique. The magazine or what year was the Car Craft?

Don Myers 1:02:40

60s, I'm sorry, 2006 1000 houses.

Mark Hiddleson 1:02:46

And I love we'll be able to get a link to that in the show notes if I can, I will get it. And the thing he reminded me about cold calling in the car. This is all connected a friend of mine, his daughter's in sales. He was asking me for some short advice about cold calling because she's nervous about it. I said man, the thing of it is when I did I just did it and I kind of did you know checkup from the neck up try to start brand new every time I gave him all this, like keep doing it. I mean, the more you do it, like after you've done a few 1000 starts to get pretty it just you're just doing it without trial. But the one thing and I want to say on this, I forgot to tell him I had to call him back I go. I also used to pray a lot more. But it was cold calling I would pray. You know? And it else?

Don Myers 1:03:35

Yeah. Faith base I told you at the beginning

Mark Hiddleson 1:03:39

at Faith base because you know, I had to have faith that I was in the right person at the right time. And it wasn't you know this person by it's just pray for the right thing to happen that it's gonna happen for me at the right time that all recognize opportunity when it's there. Well, Don, this is It's truly been a pleasure. We're out of time. I really feel like I want to do round two, folks is Don Myers, J.M. Equipment. Forklift, sales manager, extraordinaire, car collector, and one of my best mentors truly, truly been a pleasure to have you on.

Don Myers 1:04:14

No, thank you very much. Nice compliments. And as much as it's been a pleasure for for you. It's been a pleasure for me to see your success. We've have other colleagues that have gone on to do the ultimate build a business that sell it successfully. Young guys that walk in looking for a job, and I hire folks and have for a long time. And I have to tell you, it's the way they come through the door. I'll go that's a winner before they even open their mouth. I can almost tell this like 90% of the interview the way you come through the door. So always remember that the way you come through the door. Somebody's making a decision on a tie is always accepted

Mark Hiddleson 1:04:57

and wear a tie. So what's the The best way so somebody was looking for careers. Would your phone line gonna blow? What's the best way to if someone was interested in starting a career in fourth, what would be the best way

Don Myers 1:05:09

to well, they could reach out to me at Or for the brave, and if you have a lot of time to 094082345 cell phone.

Mark Hiddleson 1:05:28

That's fantastic. So direct line for Don Myer is if you're interested in launching an outstanding career in the material handling business thought. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thanks, Barbara.

Don Myers 1:05:40

It's been a pleasure. It's been fun. Thank you. Yeah, this was fun.

Outro 1:05:43

Thanks for listening to The Tao of Pizza Podcast. We'll see you again next time and be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes.


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