When he bought Speed’s Power Equipment in 1991, Sam Wilson felt the thrill of owning a small business wear off quickly. Amid a recession, his 15 employees struggled to sell pretty much any available brand of power tool in his shop about a mile south of downtown Salt Lake City. Then Home Depot opened eight blocks away. Wilson, now 51, was ready for a strategic Hail Mary.
He stopped carrying almost every brand of machinery that could be found in a big-box home-improvement store, which left him primarily with a bunch of chain saws, blowers, and hedge trimmers made by Stihl. Wilson also moved his business to a new location six blocks away—six blocks closer to Home Depot, that is. “I’m not going to lie; I was nervous,” he says. “But my sales went crazy. It was just awesome.”