Celebrating 90 years in 2015, the National Automotive Parts Association, “NAPA,” was founded to meet America’s growing need for an effective auto parts distribution system. NAPA has been the industry leader ever since and an invaluable partner in the flow of parts from manufacturers to NAPA Auto Parts stores. Today, 91% of do-it-yourself customers recognize the NAPA brand name as their go-to store of choice. This past summer NAPA opened a new store in Ashland, located at 567 Walker Ave. The store is locally-owned and well-stocked for all your foreign and domestic car needs. We stopped by the shop to speak with Phil Knight, the NAPA Sales Manager.
Phil, congratulations on the opening of your new NAPA store here in Ashland and thanks for doing this interview with us today.
Thanks, we are really excited to bring the NAPA services here to Ashland. Our store is locally-owned and has been part of the series of stores that we have opened all across the valley. We’ve worked really hard to be here today. We saw a need and an opportunity here in Ashland.
Will you tell us a little bit more about yourself and the staff and the owner of NAPA? I understand you all are long time NAPA employees and love it.
Sure. This local NAPA is owned by Dave & Gina Marcus. Over the past 24 years here in Southern Oregon, we’ve worked our way forward, originally starting in Shady Cove, and have now grown to a total of eight stores. In regard to the staff, we’ve got a great crew all the way around. Many of us have been with the company for years. I myself have worked with Dave & Gina for the past 10 years. Overall we all have a lot of fun doing what we do. We’re all car guys, gear heads, grease monkeys, or whatever label you want to put on it. This helps a lot, when a customer walks in the store with an issue. Someone there almost always has encountered or taken on a similar challenge. If we don’t have someone in the store that has, we have immediate access to specialists in just about any field. Auto, marine, tractor/agricultural, motorcycle, or industrial, we can get the key to the puzzle.
In getting ready to open your new store in Ashland, you guys really did your homework in stocking up on inventory.
You bet, when opening a new store you really need to survey the market. We were able to pull stats on exactly how many and what types of cars are registered here in Ashland. We then project out how often repairs might need to be made and then order the specific inventory that would typically be needed. I can tell you one thing…. Ashland loves its Subarus!
But more than that Ashland has a very concentrated foreign car mix. So you can depend on us for keeping all the necessary inventory for meeting the community needs. If by chance we didn’t have the part you needed here in Ashland, we can have it to you later that day or the next day with free freight.
Yes, by using our network of 8 stores, we continually have couriers and parts delivery moving all around the valley and up the West Coast. We take good care of our customers, so that when they come in we’ve got what they need when they need it. Another step that we’ve taken is to stock the leading OE (Original Equipment) manufacturer parts. This means that when you’re looking for that new import part and you open the box on the shelf, you are most likely going to see the OE manufacturer name stamped on the item, or the name of the company that makes it for the OE builder. Trust me, we’ve had enough time in this game to work out the kinks to eliminate inferior or poor quality products which inevitably end up failing our customers.
It sounds like customer service has been key to your success.
Yes, we do our best, and when that’s not enough we’ll go the extra mile to get our customers what they need. I would like to highlight that if you need something, we can get it for you.
Can you give us some examples?
Sure. Each store and region is different, which makes it fun and interesting to work with. Take, for example, our store in Eureka. There are numerous lumber mills we keep stocked with belts, bearings and essential materials. In Ashland, we have the foreign cars, hydraulic hoses, and even hybrid car batteries (the big one that powers the whole car). Some customers have fleets of cars that need servicing, or manufacturing facilities that need our sales staff stopping by weekly to keep their shelves stocked with essentials. Every location is unique. The main point, however, is that if the customer needs something, we’re going to find that item for you and take care of it.
I’ve always thought of NAPA as a car parts store, but you’re really so much more.
Yes, we are especially popular with the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) crowd. We also have 7 full-time sales guys out and about continually meeting with business owners around the region to figure out how we can meet their needs. For example, if you had a large company needing paper towels, hand soap, nitrile gloves, or machinery to service, we would work out a service agreement and plan with you, and you wouldn’t be spending your time shopping on the weekends restocking your supplies. We would take care of that for you, and you would be staying focused on what you do best and or relaxing with your family.
You guys seem to have a really good attitude.
Ha… yeah, we can be a bit rough around the edges but we’re a family. If you don’t enjoy learning, talking cars, and having a good time while doing it, you’re not going to last long here… We enjoy what we do, and this is a good thing.
Phil, tell us about pricing.
Our prices are very competitive. We are here in Ashland, you can save time and buy local. You can also call ahead of time if you are in a rush, we can get the item pulled and ready for pickup. I think customers have grown to know that with the NAPA brand, we offer a fair price for a great product.
Tell us about the 10% student discounts you offer.
This was an idea to help give a little back. We’ve always got college students coming in needing to fix their cars and we know they are on a limited budget. We also remember those days, so when someone is making the effort to learn about fixing their cars, a) we want to support them in being safe and having a decent car to drive around in and b) we’ve found that NAPA customers are lifelong customers. You never know who that million dollar customer is gonna be… so best to treat everyone as best as you can. Besides you never know, maybe they might end up owning a fleet one of these days.
Ha… yeah that’s the truth. You guys are also recycling used motor oil and also buy back battery cores?
Yes, just bring it into the store in a sealed container please, and we will get it taken care of for you. Also, please check out this month’s ad about donating to AEFB.
How has the introduction to Ashland been?
It’s been great. We’re not living in a big city, waiting in rush hour traffic to get to the 9-5. We’ve got a different priority on life. And this really reflects in our customers, people who want to do things themselves. They’ve got the skill and experience to be resilient and we love this. Being in Ashland has been a great move for us and my hope in putting this interview out into the community is to introduce ourselves to the community at large so people come in, say “hi” and give us a try.
You guys also have tools.
Yes – we’ve got full array of tools including hand tools, power tools, tool boxes, compressors, and much, much more.
Who’s been driving the NAPA car all around town?
That’s one of our delivery folks. We keep them busy, so when you see them, they’re almost always on the go. If you end up seeing them hanging out… well then you better give me a call.
Finally, I think a key point you are making is that in working with NAPA in Ashland, you are really getting connected into the full network of your stores and expertise.
Absolutely. We’ve built an amazing network of people, from electrical to mechanical to industrial. We can also arrange for trainings by having experts from around the country come in. Speaking of networks, we have a nationwide network of AutoCare Centers.
Are there any AutoCare Centers here in Ashland?
Yes, Ashland Automotive Incorporated and Siskiyou Import. These are shops that buy and install premium parts, and offer their customers a 24 month/24K mile nationwide warranty.
Any last thoughts or comments?
Thanks for the opportunity to do this interview, and thanks to everyone who took the time to read everything I had to say. We are not typically interview type of people, but we saw this opportunity and we could not resist. We are thrilled to be a part of the Ashland community and are looking forward to taking care of all your car parts, tools, DIY projects and any other needs. You name it, we’ve got you covered. Come on down and check out us.
Auto Parts of Ashland
567 Walker Ave.
Ashland, OR. 97520
(541) 488 – 6621