IT’S only fitting that parts sales play a key role at Perfection Truck Parts & Equipment and it’s not just because “parts” is the company’s middle name.
The company is the sum of several enterprises, and they work together to provide customers with an unusual mix of products and services. Perfection’s goal is to be the Total Solutions Provider for their customer base.
“Perfection is both a warehouse distributor and a truck equipment distributor,” says Chris Simpson, general manager. “That’s pretty unusual as you typically find companies either being one or the other. We are split about 50/50 between the two types of companies. It has been that way since the beginning of the company in 1946.”
But within those two broad categories of businesses, Perfection also operates a driveline service shop, builds custom hoses and control cables, provides extensive remanufacturing and repair of heavy-duty cranes through its Perfection Crane Services division, and produces and installs custom vehicle graphics as part of its Perfection Graphics operation.
All these combine to form Perfection Truck Parts & Equipment, which in turn is now part of Rush Enterprises—a multi-faceted operation that includes a chain of commercial truck dealerships.
Rush Enterprises. Inc. acquired Perfection in 2001. Rush Enterprises and its DBA (Perfection Truck Parts & Equipment) have both enjoyed growth during that time. Rush, a company with a $1.4 billion market cap, has grown from 24 locations to 107 since 2001.
“It’s a fantastic match,” Simpson says. “Much of what we have been able to accomplish has been made possible through the support we have received from Rush Enterprises.”
One example is the acquisition this summer of a 30,000-sq-ft building that had previously been the home of an auto dealership. Perfection had been leasing the facility, but the company decided to buy it and make the building the permanent home of Perfection Crane Services and Perfection Graphics. The company also is using it to install some of its heavy-duty truck upfits, creating additional shop space at Perfection’s main facility.
“Our markets have a history of boom and bust. To cope with that, we have always rented satellite facilities so that we can expand and contract as business conditions dictate,” Simpson says. “Buying the building made sense and gives us a great platform for future growth.”
Big in parts
Perfection has 33,000 part numbers in its system, of which over 10,000 are stocked on a daily basis. Additionally, about 3,000 of them are listed on perfectionequipment.com—all of which are easily shipped.
The company keeps about $2.8 million in its parts inventory. Some analysts might consider that number to be high, but the approach has paid dividends—especially during this past downturn.
“We kept a lot of product on hand at a time when other companies were cutting back,” Simpson says. “We won a lot of fleet business as a result. Fleets were putting off buying new equipment and yet they had to keep their trucks running. Waiting on a vendor to get the part in just doesn’t work for them.”
Perfection also operates a fleet of delivery trucks to help reduce the delay—especially for customers outside Oklahoma City. Multiple vehicles cover the Oklahoma City area, and others go west toward Woodward. Another heads east toward Tulsa, south to Duncan, and north to Ponca City.
“We have trucks running five days a week,” says Pete Voogt, sales manager.
New approach to the market
Thanks in part to an upgraded website that includes the ability for a visitor to buy parts from Perfection online, the world is now the company’s parts market. Perfection has filled parts orders to customers as far away as Australia and routinely sells parts nationally. But while the web is enabling Perfection to sell parts globally, e-commerce doesn’t seem to work as well in the company’s home town.
“Local customers seem to prefer coming in and picking up their orders or having them delivered.
The company has found that e-commerce is feasible if the parts are small enough to be shipped UPS.
“A good example is our customer in New York,” Simpson says. “He buys a fair amount of strobe lights off the website.”
There are countless parts vendors between Oklahoma and New York that sell the same parts that Perfection does. What sets Perfection apart? The key is getting the website listed high in the rankings of search engines such as Google and Yahoo.
“Before the e-commerce function went live on our site, we hired a web specialist to handle search engine optimization for us,” Simpson says. “I find it interesting that we can sell parts to people who live thousands of miles away and have never seen us—but they have seen our website. It doesn’t work for everything we stock—the orders have to be easy to ship. But for those parts that are easy to ship, we can compete for that business.”
Web skills were one factor in the company’s recent selection of a marketing manager. John Cross, has helped the company take advantage of new avenues of getting the message out, including social media and search engine optimization.
Showroom shows Perfection
The Perfection display area reflects what the company is all about—truck equipment and accessories on one side of the showroom and plenty of truck parts and supplies on the other. And it’s pretty apparent to customers coming through the front door. Scoping out your area of interest is simply a matter of turning to the left or right.
But almost straight ahead as the customer walks in is a computer terminal installed close to the transition between truck parts and truck equipment.
“It’s an attempt on our part to encourage interaction with the visitors to our showroom,” Simpson says. “It’s a good way for them to find product information and to get a good, quick idea about what our company is all about. There is also a place on the site where they can sign up for special promotions. Email is a very effective way for us to communicate with our customers.
Perfection keeps tight control on inventories. The company recently brought in a third party to perform their annual inventory count. The $5.1 million inventory had to be adjusted by only $2,000, with adjustments being made to 1,200 of the 10,000 in-stock part numbers that the company has in its system.
“All of our parts are barcoded, and we think we have the processes and systems in place to keep track of it,” Simpson says.
Response times for parts orders are tight. If the customer is waiting at the counter, tickets are printed out and must be pulled within three minutes. Will-call orders are processed within 15 minutes of receipt, and delivery orders must be filled 30 minutes prior to the carriers projected departure time .
When an order is processed, one person picks the parts, and another person packs them.
“It ensures all orders are double checked for accuracy,” Simpson says.
Communication is important for a parts department. Perfection provides its parts personnel with headsets that enable them to conduct conversations throughout the facility—parts counter, showroom, and warehouse. Each headset has a range of 300 feet.
The company phone system provides seamless transition between their desk phone and cell phone.
“Anyone who has a company-provided cell phone can transfer to it from his desk phone,” Simpson says. “We can start a conversation in the office and take that conversation with us if we need to leave.”
The system also helps ensure that someone is there to answer the phone.
“An incoming call to the parts counter automatically is transferred to the parts manager after six rings,” Simpson says. “If the parts manager isn’t picking up in time, the ring is transferred to me. We review when and how often this happens. It’s a good way for us to identify staffing issues.”
A special relationship
With its location in Oklahoma City, Perfection is well suited to serve major energy companies. For one such company, Perfection dedicates warehouse space and personnel to handle their needs in support of their packaging and delivery schedule requirements.
It’s a special relationship. This customer keeps close tabs on its vendors, including Perfection. The company provides Perfection with monthly performance reports, and company representatives visit the Perfection facility annually to review performance. But beyond conducting a performance review, they audit the way Perfection operates its facility, occasionally offering suggestions for making their supplier a better partner.
One helpful hint: make sure lighting is adequate throughout the warehouse. Studies have shown that lighting plays a role in the accuracy of stock pickers. Perfection responded by replacing lighting in its 12,000-sq-ft warehouse with new, energy-efficient T5 fluorescent bulbs.
Another tip: don’t stock near-identical parts next to one another.
“We thought that suggestion was a great idea,” Simpson says. “Probably like most people in the parts business, we were stocking our five-inch hose clamps right next to our 5 ½-inch clamps. At first glance, these two parts appear to be almost identical—and there is only one digit difference between part numbers. Stock them together in a dark area of the warehouse, and it’s easy to understand how you can pick the wrong part.”
Drivelines a good fit
During the downturn, Perfection opened a driveline shop. This additional capability has helped grow the parts and service departments.
“In 2009, due to a change in the Oklahoma City driveline market we chose to take advantage of the opportunity to provide driveline services.
“We sell a lot of driveline parts to our service shop. We stay true to utilizing genuine Spicer parts and don’t use will-fit parts.”
In addition to its internal sales, the company serves local truck dealers and repair shops. But as Simpson points out, you don’t have to have a truck to be a potential driveline customer. The company sells drivelines for automobile, agriculture, industrial, and marine applications.
“There is at least one driveline on every car and truck sold,” Simpson says. “And on every drilling rig.”
Simpson gives Rush Enterprises credit for enabling Perfection to set up its 5,000-sq-ft standalone driveline shop.
“A big part of this goes back to Rush Enterprises,” Simpson says. “With their help, we were able to build and equip the shop. This has worked out well for us. We always have sold driveline parts, but the ability to build and repair drivelines has really helped our sales while satisfying our customer’s needs.”
Beyond operating its own driveline shop, Perfection also builds custom hoses and control cables.
“We can provide customers with just about any type of hose except for hoses that are used for natural gas or that deliver breathing oxygen,” Simpson says. “We also build push/pull cables for many applications; such as shifter, clutch, brake or throttle. These items are usually built the same day the customer requests service.”
Getting into graphics
Graphics represent another service that Perfection offers that is not commonly associated with selling parts and accessories.
“We realized that Rush Truck Center – San Antonio had a 50” plotter that was not being utilized,” Simpson says. “We decided we could put it to good use here to produce graphics for customer vehicles.”
Producing and installing graphics represent one more tool that Perfection has in its toolbox. By having that capability, the company can eliminate one additional step in the sometimes lengthy road of assembling a commercial truck. The time this saves is particularly important to the customer.
Simpson recalls a case where a customer acquired 3,000 trucks from another fleet. The customer wanted to put those vehicles to work right away, but needed to put the proper decals on all the vehicles. The fleet’s drivers were subject to fine if they were driving trucks that were not properly identified.
“It was a customer that buys bodies and cranes from us,” Simpson says. “Because of our graphics services, we were able to produce 3,000 decals of the customer’s logo. We installed 300 of them on the trucks that were operating in Oklahoma and shipped the remaining 2,700 to them to install on trucks that were operating outside Oklahoma.”
Specializing in cranes
Another Perfection operation that dovetails nicely with the rest of the company is its Perfection Crane division.
As its name indicates, Perfection Crane installs and services truck-mounted cranes. Services include complete teardowns and rebuilds, and installation of new hydraulics. The company also sells new cranes, representing Terex, Manitex, Fassi, Auto Crane, and Liftmoore.
“We were marginally in the crane business, but the business has really grown the last 15 years. And it’s a good source for parts sales. When some of these cranes need repair, it can cost the customer hundreds of thousands of dollars a day if the jobsite has to shut down. It is also a good source for service business. Many customers don’t feel comfortable servicing cranes themselves.”
Because of the variety of products and services that Perfection offers, the company organizes its sales department by industry, rather than geography. That philosophy holds true, regardless of whether the sales position is inside or outside.
“We have to specialize,” Simpson says. “We have about 300 vendors and a sales person cannot reasonably be asked to understand and support them all.”
Pete Voogt manages an outside sales force of seven people. Each sales person is responsible for the sale of new equipment as well as parts. One specializes in municipal sales, one calls on utility fleets, one represents truck dealers, another calls on fleets, and one handles repair shops. Two salespeople sell to the oil and gas industry.
A brief history
Perfection is approaching 70 years of doing business. Formed in 1946, the company began by selling only five products—Braden winches, Anthony dump bodies, Detroit tandem axles, Austin fifth wheels and Southern grain bodies.
Today, Perfection is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rush Enterprises. This acquisition occurred in 2001. They have grown to a team of over 70 employees, with 2 locations, supporting a global marketplace.
“It’s been a great fit,” Simpson says. “With the support offered by Rush Enterprises, Perfection will be sure to continue to grow and prosper for another 70 plus years.” ♦