Gregg Cordes of Mid-Nite Auto Supply and St. Louis Auto Parts and former PPG manager Lance Getz gain strength in numbers
by Jay Sicht
Quincy, Ill.—After a long working relationship, Gregg Cordes and Lance Getz have partnered to open Quincy Auto Supply, the only independent parts and paint store in that town, after buying Abbott Supply’s automotive division. As Cordes’ third Auto Plusaffiliated parts store and PPG Platinum Plus Distributor, he can offer greater parts availability, competitive pricing, and additional services offered, he said.
“You have to be big enough to be able to compete and offer the things the other guys do and yet stay focused on the customers’ needs,” Cordes said. “I believe regionally, that can be done. But I think it challenges you, the larger you get.”
Getz, who is the general manager in the new venture, had worked with Cordes’ PPG customers, with stints as a PPG territory manager from 2004- 2011 and business development manager from 2011 to June 2017 after first being a 3M Automotive Aftermarket sales representative. Seeing an opportunity to purchase a business that would be a good fit for both, the two talked with the owners of Abbott Supply about a possible sale.
Although the company had been formed as Abbott Automotive Supply in the 1920s, auto parts had shifted over the years from being a business to one complementary to its industrial focus, with large chains becoming more difficult to compete against. The company had bought from Auto Plus and other sources.
“One hundred percent of our focus is on selling more automotive parts and paint,” Cordes said. “That’s why we get up every day. They saw it as an opportunity for their employees, and it gave us an opportunity to grow their business by them divesting that part of it and us focusing on it. Long term, it’s good for their customers, their employees, and the business.”
The pair leased a 6,000-square-foot storefront at 4817 Broadway, with greater retail traffic and the bonus of being next to a Harbor Freight Tools store for complementary shopping. In the span of a month, they worked with the landlord’s contractors to rehab the space, including new HVAC units, drywall, paint, ceilings, and counters. Staff closed for business at the end of the day on Friday, June 9, at the former location, and was ready for business at the new location Monday, June 12. All of the former Abbott employees have also made the move and a part-time delivery driver was added.
“They had a good group of people, and they had a lot of tenure with the company,” Cordes said. “We have a lot of guys with much experience in the industry and in this market, and that was huge. It really made it a good fit for me.”
Cordes and Getz have since revamped the inventory, doubling the dollar value of inventory on the shelf, but just as important, revising what is stocked. As an example, lines proven to be good sellers at Cordes’ other locations, such as Dorman’s OE Solutions and Monroe’s Quick Struts, were not previously sold by Abbott. Cordes and Getz pointed to weekly reporting from Auto Plus as a beneficial tool for having the right part on the shelf. The Emodel program predicts what parts will be sold by scouring vehicle registrations in nearby ZIP codes, combined with what area warehouses are selling.
“We get daily service from a couple of warehouses,” Cordes said. Auto Plus has multiple locations we can pull from: St. Louis, Mason City, Kansas City, and Memphis, so we have a lot of availability. It’s not always next-day, but through their warehouse network, we have a large availability of inventory.”
Auto Plus also offers marketing programs, a nationwide parts and labor warranty program, and rebate programs, Cordes said.
And although Abbott sold a number of other secondary paint lines, Quincy Auto Supply is focusing on being a PPG Platinum Distributor, as the only brand it sells. Doing so allows for better support from PPG, Getz said.
“We’re very focused on being a good partner to our customers, taking some of the knowledge I learned over the many years from PPG in business development,” he said.
The store will host a PPG MVP Advanced Estimating class Oct. 17-18. A 3M new products and seam sealer-application clinic on Sept. 19 was attended by more than 30 people.
Being committed to PPG also fits in with Getz’s belief that a shop’s focus should be on delivering cars, not on cheaper materials. He and Cordes pointed to color-match consistency (particularly from PPG Envirobase waterborne), product performance, productivity, and color tools, along with process improvements provided through PPG MVP training as benefits of staying true to one brand in PPG.
“You don’t take discounts to the bank,” he said. “You take delivered cars.”
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www.partsandpeople.com OCTOBER 2017
Reprinted from Parts & People,
River Valley Edition, October 2017