Is Matco Tools Taking Advantage of US Veterans?


Today’s economy has left many Americans looking very persistently for a job. American Corporations have left our country to seek cheap labor with little or no benefits provided and left us with this looming employment problem.

As a Veteran who served for 3 years in the United States Army I feel it is my civic and brotherly duty to warn others of false and fraudulent opportunities being presented to our military soldiers through very corrupt organizations who control franchising.

As a 6 1/2 year franchisee of Matco Tools I have endured fraud, lies, threats, theft and false documents to have my franchise falsely terminated by my franchisor NMTC Inc. doing business as Matco Tools (A Danaher subsidiary). If you want to read my story and complaints click here.

I went to great lengths to have my franchise reinstated but to no avail it fell on deaf ears. In fact, after driving 14 hours to amicably discuss my false termination with then President Tom Willis (Mr. Willis told our 10 member training class his door was always open when I went through training) his Vice President, Ernie Lauber, along with Mike Swanson met me at a Bob Evans where they gave me the opportunity to sign a document which would enable me to ask their permission in writing to discuss my franchise experience as well as deem me the one responsible for my franchise failure.

That is when I learned that Matco franchisees don’t have privileges afforded to them through our constitution and that the International Franchise Association (IFA) had that removed when it educated our franchisors on how to keep your franchisee out of court with an arbitration clause. Other franchises, besides Matco, work within the confines of small print.

You see, I even saw this language in my contract before I signed to be a Matco distributor but my District Manager informed me that if I wanted to be a Matco franchisee this was the only way. The UFOC (Uniform Franchise Offering Circular) has the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) stamp of approval on it. This means it is controlled and regulated by our government, FTC, who looks after the interest of the American people and works persistently to ensure our freedoms are protected. Right!?

I’m not the only one who faces this kind of thing either. There is an entire Facebook page dedicated to Franchise frauds.

So I complained to the FTC and they tell me they can do nothing for an individual. It has to be a group of victims. One victims life and hard work are nothing to the FTC. Imagine being raped only once to have your government or public officials say we need more victims from the person who assaulted you before we can do anything.

So I talked to my Senator who said he can do nothing because he is at the Federal level and it is a State issue and he directs me to my house representative and refers me to my Attorney General.

I talked to that House Representative and he tells me I am not in his jurisdiction and he refers me to the correct House Representative.

I talked to him and he tells me that he probably can’t help me because of my franchise agreement, but he might be able to change laws to protect future victims.

I drive to Little Rock to talk to my Deputy Attorney General who knows nothing about the IFA and tells me that Arkansas has nothing to do with my franchise agreement and that if I want justice I’ll have to get an attorney. He also tells me that the FTC is the governing authority over my contract which is a federal issue.

I spoke to many attorneys and even gave four of them money, but after two weeks and a follow up my money was refunded and I was told that they could not represent me but I had a strong case and not to give up till I found representation. I bet I have been to at least 40 Arkansas attorneys and 10 Ohio attorneys. I have talked to almost every law firm that deals in franchising. For some, reason with the agreement I have, an attorney does not want to represent me unless I was very profitable at the time I was falsely terminated.

Feeling frustrated I thought I would contact Beth Solomon who is Vice President of Strategic Initiatives & Industry Relations and handles IFA issues with franchisees. I thought if she heard my story and saw my proof she would hold Matco accountable for the crimes they committed against my franchise.

Wrong! Through a phone call conversation Mrs. Solomon informed me I was the reason for my failed franchise and franchising wasn’t meant for all people. Specifically, Mrs. Solomon has been tasked to usher in more tax dollars to fund franchisors with a greedy appetite and non-viable franchise opportunities. I don’t understand why someone who is working so hard to spend the tax payers dollar would not listen to a victim and make sure the money she is getting for these Corporations is not going to promote fraud.

I thought maybe I could reach out to some of the Vetfran committee members and they would listen and help. Mr. Helgerson, who profits from a list of Veterans who he can exclusively offer to franchisors for a price, informed me that I was threatening him and I might want to watch my tone. I find it hard to comprehend why a brother in arms who wants others to be successful franchisees would speak to me in a threatening manner. Maybe the links below can shed some light.

As you can see franchising as a whole has severe issues.

Matco is being sued for SBA loan fraud, has had their then Vice President, Tim Gilmore lie in recruitment videos to churn more victims, advertises their franchise as an employment opportunity through despite FTC rules, sold non-viable routes which did not contain the minimum of 325 customers in the FDD or contract, threatened franchisee with loss of their franchise, stole from franchisee after termination by not giving full credit for returned tools and works with the IFA to create more content for their Franchise Disclosure Documents (FDD) to protect the franchisor from the fraud they impose on the franchisee.

Stay away from franchising! But more importantly stay away from Matco! Don’t take my word for it! Look at their rating on See how employees rate Danaher. See how CEO Larry Culp Jr. has a 38% rating. See that only 21% would recommend Danaher to a friend. Matco’s Facebook page is littered negative comments about distributors who are not there to provide service due to churning. Ask Matco franchisees who entered through the Vetfran program like Richard Brannies retired United States Army and got a Bronze Star in Desert Storm, James Bunch who spent 11 1/2 years before being disabled in the United States Army or Michael Gatewood who was once the poster boy for Matco on Veterans day when Matco used him to solicit more victims of its fraudulent ways through the Vetfran Program. All of our information in the FDDs can be found at

Ask Ernie Lauber, who states he has a “Passion” for Veterans, what he did for this Veteran when he drove 14 hrs. to discuss the fraud imposed on his franchise.

Steven Blair has been a franchisee for 6 months when this video was made and Thomas Ryan less than two years. Ask Michael Gatewood how long it took him to realize Matco was a fraud. Matco used him in a similar way in 2006 to promote Matco’s Vetfran program.

If you feel strongly that this should not happen to our veterans sign my petition titled “Veterans Deserve Franchise Success Not Matco Tools Failure.”

Spread the word! Let’s keep our Veterans protected!

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