Getting to know Action Truck Parts
By Nick Seidel, Vice President
Please briefly describe the history of Action Truck Parts (a quick summary is fine)
Action Truck Parts started back in 2005 as an HDA Truck Pride associate location, Acme Truck Parts. A second location of Acme Truck Brake & Supply. In 2007, Ben Seidel, president, bought out the other partner in the company, Bill Dudek of Acme Truck Brake and Supply. With Ben Seidel’s contacts in the industry, Acme Truck Parts then became the first Traction Truck Parts location in the United States as a franchise location of TW Distribution. During the next six years, Nick Seidel, now vice president of Action, become more involved in growing the business and taking on new opportunities. One of those opportunities was joining VIPAR Heavy Duty. In June 2013, Traction Bolingbrook dropped the TR from Traction and Action Truck Parts was born. Over the past four years, Action Truck Parts has been on the forefront of the changing heavy-duty aftermarket with the growing retail driven marketplace. In July 2016, Action acquired its second location in the Chicago market, Darryl Dupre Truck Parts, located in Rockdale, Ill. In effort to expand their retail structure, Action Truck Parts is currently moving their Rockdale branch to a much larger facility with a renovated retail space. The project is planned to be completed by the beginning of June 2017.
Please briefly describe your company’s distribution structure: What do you sell, who are your vendors, who are your customers, etc.?
We are a diverse heavy-duty distributor. Our company focus is to have the right part, at the right time, for a fair price. We aim to sell and stock whatever our customers ask us to. If we do not have it, our customers are going to go elsewhere. We strive to provide anything that a customer needs. Our motto is, “If we do not have it, we will get it for you as fast as possible.” Because a lot of our customers are repair shops, they do not have the time to wait for products because that truck sitting in their bay is taking up prime real estate that makes them money. We have to supply their demands as soon as possible. We align ourselves with suppliers that offer a premium product—Phillips Industries, Bendix, Automann, Webb Wheel, Tramec Sloan, Gates, and S&S Truck Parts—just to name a few.
What separates Action Truck Parts from competitors in its marketplace?
We are customer service focused. We are a supplier for our customers. If we do not fulfill their needs, they are forced to go elsewhere. Because of our motto, we want to be that first call. We make sure all of our deliveries and pickups are done in no longer than an hour’s time. Our staff is knowledgeable. We have training provided for them once a month from our suppliers. Just like anything else, continued education is key.
How do you believe customers perceive your business?
I believe our customers perceive us as a young and eager company to deal with. There are few times that we tell our customers no. We do whatever it takes to serve the customers that call on us.
How and why have your customers stayed loyal to your business?
Loyalty is hard to come by in Chicago. Everything is price driven. For those customers that have been loyal, it is our service and drive to provide them with whatever it is they need. Whether it is a brake drum, an engine, or even a lawn mower, we will find a way to provide them with theirs needs.
What is one thing most customers/suppliers don’t know about Action Truck Parts that would surprise/impress them? (i.e., tell us something about Action Truck Parts we don’t know)
We are a young group. Average age is 34 years old. Although we are young, most of our employees have come up in the trucking industry. Whether it is a dealership past, trucking family, or automotive background, all the employees understand the fundamentals of a vehicle.
What are the pros and cons are for working for a family-owned business?
Pros: The biggest thing is that decisions get made fast. Just like our customers, we do not have the time to wait around for things to happen.
Cons: Being the third generation, there is a lot of pressure to carry on the legacy. I focus on growth and tend to not the little things get in the way.
What makes Action Truck Parts a great place to work?
The feeling of being a part of something. We never sugar coat anything. We are extremely honest with our employees. Everyone has responsibility and they are rewarded for the things they do. Action is nothing without its employees.
How vital is it to have quality employees entering your business from younger generations, and how are you trying to recruit these younger professionals?
We are a very young company. We are hiring people that are eager to learn. They don’t always have the most aftermarket experience but want to be a part of something that is going to change the industry. We sell the idea of growth and the opportunity of growing with the company. Action does not want turn over. We pay our employees well, invest in them and hope that they understand that we stand behind them and their families.
Do you feel Action Truck Parts is in the position to change with the times? If so how?
Absolutely. We want to be the leaders of change. Retail, technology, and most importantly, our people. The retail aspect of the business is huge. Sixty percent of our business walks through the front door. If we don’t change things on the sales floor, people have nothing new to look at. Social media is and has been a focus of Action Truck Parts for the last two years. Our customers now know more than ever. Competition is getting stronger, margins are getting thinner, and we have to be prepared to have answers for our customers. Any information we can provide via Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of media to our customer base the better. Our people. Once again, a young staff that understands what we are good at and where we need to improve. No idea is ever shut down. We ask for comments and suggestions weekly from our staff. If they think we need to do things differently, we try it. If it doesn’t work, we change it and try something else. If you’re not changing, you’re not growing.
Do you have any advice for the next generation, as they work in this industry?
Be patient. Be patient. Be patient. Do not come into this industry thinking you are going to re-invent the wheel. Sort of cliché, but the next generation wants it all with half the work. Success only comes before work in the dictionary. Work harder, work longer, but use the tools you have to work smarter.
What are your goals for the long-term future of Action Truck Parts?
Action Truck Parts is in a unique position. Because of the Seidel Diesel Group and it family of companies, we already have market penetration in various markets across the country. We plan to expand our brand and business into those areas. Although Chicago has been the focus for the last 12 years, Action Truck Parts is very interested in acquisitions in other parts of country.
Why did Action Truck Parts join GenNext? How can GenNext help Action Truck Parts’ employees?
Action joined GenNext because I saw an opportunity to get involved with a group and some people that had a mindset to change what the aftermarket is and has been. Behind the times sort of speak. The average age of the industry is in the area of 55 to 60. That needs to change if we plan to have individual, family owned companies that provide for the transportation industry. We need younger people involved. Otherwise, like we have seen in other industries, the big corporations are going to soak up the little guy. GenNext offers our employees a base from where we can learn from. The Distributor Training Expo, webinars, and the mentoring idea behind GenNext, offers insight to an industry that our employees might not experience if we were not involved. Also, I was “voluntold” that I was going to be involved. LOL. Obviously, by the relationships that I have cultivated in the industry with the young professionals that want to change where the heavy-duty aftermarket is going.
What are the three most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are?
- Joining VIPAR Heavy Duty in 2013
- Networking every event like there is nothing else to do.
- Treating every moment like I have nothing to loose.
You have to take chances. If you don’t, you will never know if it will work. Since 2013, I am not afraid to ask for anything. Whether it is an employee, a customer, and most importantly, a supplier. Listen to your people. They are the number one supplier of information. Never dismiss their ideas.
Are there any industry leaders that have influenced you/mentored you? Who were they and how has their knowledge assisted you?
Bill Dudek – Acme Truck Brake & Supply: Bill always told me to research everything. Double check your work. Provide your customer with everything they need. Never say no. There is an abundance of information Bill has taught me about the industry. Most importantly, do not get caught up in just supplying your customer, make sure it makes sense. If you have to walk away from a deal, do it knowing that you made the best decision for your company and the people that work for you.
John Bzeta – Fleet Brake: John and I have been friends for the last few years. He brings a different perspective to the table. One late night at HDAW a few years ago, John over heard a conversation I was having with a supplier. He walked over, tapped me on the shoulder, and ask me to take a walk. Knowing who he was but not personally, I excused myself from the conversation and followed John. Not knowing why he asked to speak with me, I was curious. He started the conversation with this, “Do not ever let a supplier tell you how you need to do things. Dictate to them the way things will be. Be straight, be honest, and never be afraid to be demanding. If suppliers want your business, and truly want it, they will listen and make it happen. Never be afraid to ask. The worst thing they can say is no, but you will never know if you don’t ask.” That conversation has stuck with me for the last four years. I practice it daily.
Dave Willis – CRW Parts: Dave is a wealth of knowledge. His family company has been around for what, 200 years? I look to Dave for insight on inventory, employees, and most importantly, the beautiful game of golf. The best thing about Dave is that no matter how busy business is, where he is at in the country watching his kids play sports, or how bad his golf game is, he always answers the phone when I call. A true friend and mentor.