New McAnax Brand Equips Team for Success

Any colour of toolchest – so long as it’s red! Henry Ford, a marketer who knew a thing or two about cars, would have approved. However, for the team planning a new brand at Pace Marketing in summer 2004, this simple formula posed its own challenges.

The new brand was required for a wide range of tools and equipment to be sold to distributors in the automotive trade. As Derek McCann of Pace puts it: “Our basic objective is to get distribution. In other words, to get the brand recognised by our consumers by placing it in front of them. Since our product grouping is a well defined, engineering product, and since our product is similar in appearance to its competitors (for example, the market demands that all engineer’s toolchests must be painted red!), the job was to make ours immediately identifiable.”

There was little then in the equipment itself that would provide a visual basis for the difference that a brand offers to the market. We would have to look elsewhere. The history and reputation of Pace Marketing seemed a good place to start.

Whilst the Pace name is unknown to the consumer, the mechanic on the garage floor, the branded products it supplies (including the original Vise Grip) are stock in trade in that market. However, with over thirty years on the clock supplying into the automotive trade, Pace Marketing is well known to distributors and retailers as the supplier of quality product. Its service credentials are equally well established and the buyer knows that Pace stands over every item of equipment that it sells.

We looked a little closer at the world in which the tools and equipment are used in order to gain some sense of what role the new brand might play there. Gone are the days of the backstreet repair shop, with its cluttered, oil-slicked floor and peeling calendar. Derek talked of the growing professionalism of the trade and the pride which the mechanic (even the weekend enthusiast) now takes in having a spotless, well organised workplace (“you could eat your dinner off the floor in most of those places”) and a purpose-built collection of tools.

Given these three elements: the homogenous product, the largely unseen supplier and the growing professionalism of the trade, it seemed to us that we needed to locate the brand in the mechanic’s working space, the place where the magic happens, where engines are taken apart, overhauled, fine-tuned, reassembled and sent out pitch perfect.

We homed in even further on the character of the lead mechanic, the experienced member of the team, who demands quality in the engines and bodies that he works on and in the tools that he uses.

We imagined how he might be. We saw him as quietly unassuming (much like Pace itself), moving around in the background, making adjustments, fine tuning this or that and readying the machines for performance. We speculated that, as a teenager, he backpacked around Europe to the various race circuits, sleeping rough in order to secure prime viewing. We talked of how he loves the smell of the oil and rubber, the roar of the engines.

His workplace is a hive of activity, but despite the vast range of tools, equipment and engine and car parts which apparently litter the space when he is working on a vehicle, he has a place for everything and everything in its place.

Derek and the team agreed that a brand with these characteristics would be well equipped to appeal to distributors, retailers and mechanics. This brand would reflect the experience and know-how of Pace itself to offer the right tools and equipment for the job.

For the professional mechanic, the brand would deliver an increased sense of professionalism and reassurance. For the serious DIY enthusiast, the brand would deliver both this sense of professionalism and access to a compelling world of speed and performance. With more of the traditional tool and equipment brands crossing over into lifestyle, e.g. Caterpillar, Stanley, Landrover, this latter group are becoming increasingly important.


What Happened Next?

The brief to Creative Inputs was to create a visual identity that would reflect the character of the brand and would express the lead mechanic’s intelligence, judgement, commitment to high performance and affection for the machines that he works on. It also needed to carry the sense of “a place for everything and everything in its place” that sits at the heart of the brand.

And so the MCANAX brand of equipment was born.

Derek and the team then spent a number of months identifying products for the range, applying the new identity, placing orders with manufacturers in the Far East and determining the right price for their market. They then took a deep breath and introduced the MCANAX range to their distributors in November 2004.


The Bottom Line

“When we launched the brand, people accepted it immediately. They said, “that’s great, that makes sense” and then they had a look at the pricing and they all bought. They wiped me out. Our supply chain runs from four to six months. We ran into terrible problems with supply.”

  • The brand has gained immediate acceptance amongst the critical audience of distributors and retailers.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that the brand is proving highly popular with the end user, the mechanic.
  • Year on year, sales of tool-chests were up 61% during the first four months of 2005, with jacks and equipment up 25% and 20% respectively (these latter figures are rapidly increasing as Pace receives supplies from its manufacturers).
  • The Pace Marketing team, which for 30 years had averaged two members, has added four new members since the beginning of 2005.
  • The team has already added several more items of garage equipment that weren’t in the original range. The MCANAX logo now appears on things as diverse as plastic toolboxes, grease guns, foot pumps and socket sets.


Closing Credits

“We wanted to take a homogenous product and brand it. Our basic objective was to persuade the vendor that his first offering to the mechanic should be ours. We now have a brand that is gaining a considerable level of acceptance in the marketplace.”

Derek McCann, Pace Marketing


Leading Man: Derek McCann of Pace Marketing

Direction: Gerard Tannam of Islandbridge

Design: Jenny Browne of Creative Inputs

Copy: Denis Goodbody of Adept Advertising