If you don’t know Todd Switzer, then you’ve at least since his big white truck, with “Snap-On” emblazoned in red letters. He’s traveled up and down the Keys for more than a decade now, quietly doing his job, supplying mechanics and other tradesmen with the tools they need to do their jobs. Private citizens jump on the truck, but he also visits marinas and airports and municipalities. He’s quiet, always smiling, and a heck of a salesman.
Switzer lives in Key Haven with wife, Joie, who teaches tennis, and son Smith, 13. His daughter, Camden, 20, is a sophomore at Brown University in Rhode Island.
He has about 200 accounts between Key West and Grassy Key, and spends between 10 and 12 hours on the road five days of week, while catching up on restocking and paperwork over the weekends.
Here’s a little more about Switzer:
How long have you been the Snap-On man? 17 years.
What’s the least expensive item on the truck? A $3 wire brush.
What’s the most expensive item on the truck? A top-of-the-line scanner, Zeus. It costs about $12,000.
What do you like about this job? I like the flexibility. It’s rewarding and challenging every day.
Do you still sell the hot pink Snap-on jewelry boxes that look like toolboxes? Yes. And I just sold a full-size pink toolbox to a mechanic who had a sister that survived breast cancer.
How did you get to the Keys? I grew up in the Baltimore and Pennsylvania areas. I was a mechanic for nine years. I started at 13 years old, sweeping up, and making $1.25 an hour. Eventually I became the boss’ protégé and became the lead mechanic. But I left that job to enroll in Florida Keys Community College (now College of the Florida Keys) in 1987. Then I met Paul Tripp, the former Key West restaurateur, who sponsored me as a cyclist. I spent about a year on the road, traveling and living out of a van.
What kind of bike did you have back in the day? A Bianchi Celeste green bicycle. I think it cost $700, which was a lot of money back then. Now a set of pedals will put you back $1,000. It’s all relative. I sold my mountain bike to buy an engagement ring for Joie — whom I met on vacation in Key West — and moved back to the Keys in 1995.
Do you still ride? Yes, I ride as much as I can; mostly road biking. Some weekends I meet up with a group of guys and we do the loop here in Key West or the bigger loop to Baby’s Coffee or Sugarloaf.
What’s your “perfect” day in the Keys? Go for a bike ride, go for a boat ride, spend time with the family and a nice dinner.
What’s something you can never refuse? An opportunity to make money.
What job would you be terrible at? Selling something I didn’t like.
What was the first concert you ever went to? Hmm, I guess Live Aid was the most memorable.
What’s your life motto? Hard work pays off.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? The ability to read minds.
Do you have a secret talent? I’m pretty handy. I can fix anything from TVs to bicycles.
What’s your guilty pleasure? Chocolate Häagen Dazs.
What are you watching? The seventh season of “Orange Is the New Black.”
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you take? I’d take water, my wife and a mountain bike.