From a wagon peddler business to a multi-store distributorship, Skip Klase has seen the evolution of the aftermarket industry reflected in the ups and downs of his Canton, Ohio-based United Sales.
The son of an automotive distributor, Skip shares a similar background, including military service during the Vietnam era. Skip graduated from college with visions of a marketing career, but that changed when he discovered his knack for sales “My dad let me sell some of his products, but only if I found my own customers,” says Skip. “So I loaded surplus hoses in a VW Beetle and started to call on bodyshops.”
When his father retired in 1972, Skip took over the business and expanded his product line to sandpaper, tools… and R-M® paint.
Taking on a Tough Market
Today, Skip strives to stay ahead of the changing marketplace. Hard-hit by the auto industry slump, the northern Ohio area continually challenges the jobbers.
Using his Canton shop as a base of operations, Skip covers a wide area of Ohio. With five stores and 42 employees, Skip describes United Sales as “a large small business” that must demonstrate quickness and flexibility to meet customer needs.
“You can move just 20 miles and find the market totally different,” says Skip.
United Sales carries the full line of BASF & AkzoNobel products to meet every customer’s need. “These paints are quality products, competitively priced and backed by a good network,” Skip says. Value-added products and services such as the SmartTrak® & Mixit Pro® paint management systems also boost productivity for the jobber.
Key to the smooth operation of United Sales is Skip’s clearly defined role. Close to home, Skip handles the technical issues and “keeps the shelves filled. I’m the technical library of paint.” Skip also tests every new piece of equipment.
With more than 40 years in business, Skip Klase uses his expertise and industry insight to keep ahead of changes that come from consolidation, insurance issues and even the internet. Through it all, he is committed to one value. “We believe in service and we always have,” notes Skip. “We treat people the same way we would want to be treated.”