Spokane Journal of Business

Parts Wholesalers projects sales growth

Company doubled size of store in Cd'A this year; employee count steady

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-—Staff photo by Jessica Valencia
Parts Wholesalers President Tim Trudnowski says store sales are up this year, and the Francis Avenue store is outpacing the others. He's pictured in the downtown store.

Parts Wholesalers Inc., an automotive parts wholesale and retail chain based here, is expecting its second year of sales growth this year following the opening of a Post Falls store last year, and a larger new Coeur d'Alene store earlier this year, says company President Tim Trudnowski.

Parts Wholesalers does business as Motion Auto Supply and Automotive Jobbers Supply, and it supplies parts to stores and mechanic shops within a 200-mile radius of Spokane.

Sales companywide have been up so far this year compared with last year, Trudnowski says, although he declines to disclose revenues or the percentage increase. He says 2013 is on pace to be the second consecutive year that revenues have increased in year-to-year comparisons. During the downturn between 2009 and 2011 sales flattened out, but didn't decrease greatly.

Companywide, Parts Wholesalers employs 107 workers full time, he says, a number that has remained almost unchanged compared with last year.

"We don't see any big changes," Trudnowski says of employment at the company, although it added six employees when it opened a new North Idaho location last year.

Its ninth location opened in Post Falls at 206 E. Seltice Way in August 2012. The 5,000-square-foot building previously was occupied by Carquest Auto Parts.

Last month, Motion Auto began operating out of a new building in Coeur d'Alene, Trudnowski says. The 8,000-square-foot store at 1245 E. Best replaces a 3,000-square-foot building it had occupied next door at 1225 E. Best.

Parts Wholesalers developed that building for $650,000, and tore down the older building upon completion, he says.

Parts Wholesalers has expanded or remodeled almost all of its stores since opening them, he says, due in part to growing demand for services at the stores. He says the company doesn't have any immediate plans to open additional stores at this time.

The company's headquarters, at 120 S. Cedar on the west end of downtown Spokane, is its largest location, with 104,000 square feet of floor space, with roughly 2,000 square feet of that devoted to retail sales. The rest of the building is devoted to a wholesale warehouse. Wholesale sales make up about 75 percent of sales companywide, he says.

"That's what we grew up on," Trudnowski says.

In addition to the downtown store, Parts Wholesalers owns and operates nine Motion Auto Supply stores in Eastern Washington and Idaho, he says. Locally, other stores are located at 13124 E. Sprague in Spokane Valley, 1217 E. Francis in north Spokane, and 12722 W. Sunset Highway in Airway Heights. The company's two farthest stores are located northwest of Spokane in Omak and Twisp Wash., he says. Motion Auto Supply stores account for 60 percent of the revenue for the company, Trudnowski says, with its retail stores also selling to wholesale customers.

In addition to the stores it owns, Parts Wholesalers works with 35 independently owned stores, also known as jobbers, providing stock and services to them. These independent stores, which also sell to retail and wholesale customers, make up the remaining 40 percent of Parts Wholesalers revenue, he says.

Parts Wholesalers is associated with Federated Auto Parts, a national marketing group based in Staunton, Va., with a parts distributing network of more than 4,000 stores nationwide. Trudnowski says Federated Auto Parts buys wholesale for stores, which enables smaller independent stores to compete with the larger national parts chains.

"It's allowed us to stay competitive," he says. "It's certainly allowed us to survive."

Parts Wholesalers was a founding member of Federated in 1985 when the group formed, he says.

The Spokane company competes with national auto chains, including Atlanta-based National Automotive Parts Association (NAPA), Springfield, Mo.-based O'Reilly Automotive Inc., and Memphis, Tenn.-based AutoZone Inc., all of which have stores in Spokane.

"We compete very, very well," Trudnowski asserts, adding, "We feel we know this market better than anyone."

He says so far, all of its stores are up across the board in sales but the Francis store is performing better than some of the company's other stores.

"They're having a good year this year," Trudnowski says, although he's concerned about several road construction projects that may affect sales around that store for the second half of this year.

Francis Avenue is receiving attention this year from the city of Spokane and Washington state Department of Transportation, with paving taking place along almost the entirety of the road within Spokane city limits. The DOT also is working on a bridge replacement project on the east end of Francis tied to the North Spokane Corridor.

Parts Wholesalers operates a fleet of 55 vehicles, Trudnowski says, most of which it uses for parts delivery. He says the company hasn't had to buy new trucks for a couple of years.

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