Scott Sharpe is the regional parts director for Asbury Automotive Group, one of the largest automotive retailers in the U.S., headquartered in Duluth, GA. Asbury is the parent company that manages the Crown Automotive Group, with some ten dealerships in North Carolina and another ten elsewhere, and seven dealerships within Texas’ David McDavid Auto Group, based in Irving, TX, but having other locations in Plano, Houston, Austin, and Frisco. Sharpe works for a company that oversees some 80 dealerships throughout the United States, and personally directs the parts operations of all of the David McDavid stores as well as the Crown Automotive stores in North Carolina. It’s an enormous job, managing parts for the seven David McDavid dealerships carrying a total of $5.1 million in parts, but he’s a seasoned professional with more than three decades of overall experience in the industry.
Sharpe knows wholesale parts inside and out and greatly appreciates the body shops in the Southwest that make up a large part of David McDavid’s revenues, he told Autobody News. “All of my managers are in wholesale with both feet. We’re dedicated and focused on wholesale, which means we’re going to be here today and tomorrow, providing the best service we can.
“We know the collision repair industry and all of the things that come with it,” Sharpe said. “We’re extremely aware of the struggles that the body shops go through working with the insurance companies. We know how important things like OE quality, product knowledge, price flexibility and cycle times are so important to these body shops. We want body shops to succeed so that we can succeed and we’ll do anything we can to make it happen—including better delivery, complete inventories with high fill rates and discounts when applicable and reasonable.”
Autobody News recently talked to the six parts managers running the seven David McDavid Auto Group parts departments. Amongst this top group, there are more than 200 years of cumulative experience in parts sales at the dealership level.
George Kadara, the parts manager at David McDavid Acura of Plano, runs a department carrying more than $500,000 in Acura parts—a total of 15,000 parts in stock with a fill rate of 83%. Kadara is proud of his operation and his crew. “This dealership was the very first Acura franchise in the country to open its doors back in 1986 and I’ve been with them since day one,” Kadara said, “It’s a prime position, because we’re backed by the David McDavid name, which is a proven winner and has a great reputation.”
Kadara touts the knowledge and experience of his counter people and truly believes it’s the foundation of his department’s consistently high numbers for wholesale. “Knowledge is the key and will always be integral of what we’re doing here. Our people need to know these cars better than our customers and that’s the bottom line. With decades of experience behind my counter team, I’m confident that these are the best in the business.”
Louis Phelps is the parts manager at David McDavid Acura of Austin and manages a department carrying over $400,000 in Acura parts—a total of 15,000 parts in stock with a fill rate of 89%, Phelps, 65, is one of the more experienced parts managers, with 49 years of seasoning in the industry. All these years on the job have proven one thing above all to Phelps—OE parts are just better on every level, he believes.
“We pretty much try to go with OE parts whenever we can to avoid problems with the aftermarket parts down the road. The insurance companies will lean toward the aftermarket, including recycled or remanufactured parts, but it’s not forward-thinking in many cases. If you can get a panel or a headlight that doesn’t fit, it ends up costing you [especially the shop] money, not saving. The benefits associated with OE parts make them a no-brainer. The manufacturer’s parts were built for that vehicle by the carmaker. The warranties are superior and the fit and finish is 100% accurate. You’ll never have to adjust or cut into a panel to make it fit with an OE part.”
Phelps values the skills of his counter people, who help his department to work together to avoid a significant number of returns through their wholesale accounts, he stated. “Our return rate is 7%, which is lower than most dealerships in this country, believe me. We hit these figures for several reasons. First, our people know these vehicles down to every clip and bolt. Second, we get the customers’ VIN number on every car they call us about. And third, we anticipate potential problems, so we take the time to make sure the order is right first time every time.”
Scott Bentley is the parts manager at David McDavid Honda of Houston, at the helm of a department carrying more than $1 million in Honda parts containing 100,000 parts in stock with a fill rate of approximately 95%. Bentley manages a large 15-person department out of a 20,000 square-foot warehouse.
Bentley recognizes the importance of sales efforts to body shops for his department. “Wholesale to body shops is a big part of our revenue mix and we strive to maintain top numbers. Almost every one of our wholesale guys has an average of 20 years on the counter, so they’re one of my biggest strengths. Having a big inventory is a plus, too, but getting the parts out to the shops quickly and efficiently is a huge priority.”
Bentley must be doing something right, because David McDavid Honda of Houston is currently #1 in the country for wholesale for Honda. “It’s not easy being the best performer in the U.S., but we’ve worked hard to get there and now we want to stay there. The relationships we’ve established with body shops in our region are invaluable and we’ll do everything we can to continue the success.”
Dick Graham is the parts manager at David McDavid Nissan of Houston, managing a department carrying $1.3 million in Nissan parts, 28,000 total parts and supervising a crew of 24. David McDavid Nissan of Houston is also a leader, with a #1 wholesale ranking in the U.S., Graham said.
Graham markets his department to body shops in his region in an aggressive fashion, he explained. “We contract with three outside sales organizations to assist us in marketing and selling our name to shops in Texas and Louisiana. We support these efforts with an ongoing direct mail program, getting postcards into every facility in our markets every month. We’re in front of these shop owners, so when they need some Nissan OE parts, we’ll be there to take their order. It’s a never-ending process, but if you stay on it, the results will happen.”
John Keith is the parts manager for David McDavid Lincoln Mercury of Plano, directing the department featuring over $400,000 in Lincoln parts; approximately 8,000 in stock and with a 92% fill rate. Keith, 68, has been working for David McDavid Lincoln Mercury of Plano for a decade and possesses 50 years of total experience in the parts industry.
Although he’s a veteran of the parts game, Keith isn’t even close to considering retirement. “I still move faster than 90% of the people here and I haven’t slowed down one bit. The passion to be successful in the parts industry is a big motivation to me always, and that will never change,” Keith said.
Dan Zieber works double duty for David McDavid, managing two parts departments—Honda of Irving and Honda of Frisco. Combined, the two dealerships maintain more than $1.5 million in Honda parts with more than 11,000 parts in stock at Irving and 17,000 parts in-house in Frisco. Honda of Frisco has a 94% fill rate while Irving hits approximately 90.6%, according to Zieber.
Running two departments is a tough 24/7 job, but Zieber embraces the challenge and loves the wholesale competition in Irving and Frisco. “I’ve been in wholesale for Honda within several different dealerships over the years, including setting up the wholesale operation at Honda of Frisco in 2005. The key is having a good inventory and staying in touch with all your customers. When a shop changes parts vendors, it’s because their existing parts supplier made a mistake or a series of mistakes. They either delivered the wrong part or late, and/or left the customer hanging on the phone too long. That’s when we want to be there in front of the shop customer, so when they’re looking for another source—we’re there!”
David McDavid Acura of Austin
13553 Research Blvd.
Austin, Texas 78750
Acura of Plano
4051 West Plano Parkway
Plano, Texas 75093
David McDavid Lincoln Mercury of Plano
333 West Plano Parkway
Plano, Texas 75075
David McDavid Nissan of Houston
11911 Gulf Freeway
Houston, Texas 77034
David McDavid Honda of Frisco
1601 North Dallas Parkway
Frisco, Texas 75034
David McDavid Honda of Irving
3700 West Airport Freeway
Irving, Texas 75062
David McDavid Honda of Houston
11200 Gulf Freeway
Houston, Texas 77034