SPECIALIST: SIERRA MADRE
Visiting Sierra Madre in Pasadena, California
Like so many great independent small businesses, the Sierra Madre Collection was born of a guy, a car, a garage, and a need for parts. Jorge Perez was restoring an early 356 and not easily finding the selection, variety, availability, and correctness he sought, and once he began sourcing parts and ultimately tooling up to produce some of them, Sierra Madre Collection was founded in 2007. It began with a combination office/showroom/warehouse that was entirely too small, and just a few employees. Now it’s a one-stop-shop for all Porsche owners.
Over the ensuing decade, the parts selection grew exponentially, as did the staff (now 22 people) and thus the property; there’s still the building in Pasadena, California, USA, which serves as showroom, plus offices for sales staff, customer service, marketing, online support, and the seedlings of a small but quality-focused restoration shop. Nearby is the sprawling 4200 square metre warehouse operation, with 600 racks of stock, that feeds it all and operates with a numerically managed parts inventory system not unlike that of a major Porsche dealership.
Sierra Madre stocks and can supply a variety of genuine Porsche, OEM, Porsche Classic, reproduction and aftermarket parts – depending on the needs and desires of the customer. The company currently produces about twenty per cent of the products it sells, with an eye toward expanding its own tooling and production capacity to be able to fill the most difficult and hard to find parts needs. Sierra Madre sources its inventory from vendors around the world, and equally serves a global customer base, consisting mostly of individual owners, but also collections, restorers, museums, and even a few racing teams, although go-fast parts and racing accessories aren’t its mainline businesses. Magnus Walker, whose enclave isn’t more than a half hour away, is also a customer.
Although the company was born out of the needs of early air-cooled Porsches, it has expanded with the market into most of the water cooled cars. 924s and 928s are absolutely welcome, and company representative Jenna Bertocci adds that Sierra Madre has also greatly increased its business in support of 996 and 997 models.
Magnus Walker is just a half hour away and is also a customer
The company will also supply parts for later machines like Cayennes and Panameras, although these Porsches aren’t its “bread and butter.” Sierra Madre prides itself on high levels of customer service, with highly communicative email notification and follow up systems, so customers know the status of their orders at any given time. And though the company never likes to turn anyone away, it’s not afraid to recommend them to another source, or their main Porsche dealer, if that’s the best way to get their need covered. Most orders are shipped the same day as placed if the pieces are in stock in the warehouse. Besides top notch service, Sierra Madre’s other calling card is choice; there are times when a genuine OEM Porsche original piece is the best and proper solution, in other cases the most appropriate (and sometimes more affordable) piece may come from the aftermarket. The idea is to give the customer a plethora of options.
Sierra Madre’s business is built primarily on new parts, components and accessories, although it has begun dabbling in used bits, and is considering how aggressively to expand this aspect of its offerings. Besides hard parts, the company stocks a smorgasbord of books, manuals, clothing and accessories, too. Ms. Bertocci adds that “some parts just aren’t available new, reproduced or refurbished, so a serviceable used piece may be the only choice” so the company is considering its options in terms of sourcing and stocking more used inventory. One 928 sits in the warehouse as a parts source; its bones are picked apart to fill customer needs, and for use in tooling for no longer available bits. Another interesting piece parked next to it is a special white 1979 “Sebring Edition” 924 made only for the North American market, celebrating one of Porsche’s wins in the legendary Florida 12 hour enduro. The charming Type 2 “parts chaser” bus is a huge hit at the many car shows and swap meets that Sierra Madre sponsors or participates in. Ms. Bertocci has driven the van noting that it’s a lot of fun but a lot of work; “first of all, it’s kinda slow. And the shift linkage is a little vague, plus the slow geared manual steering requires a lot of arm twirling in the corners. But it’s really cute and people love it.”
Another need Perez discovered while restoring his 356 is that for high quality Porschecentric restoration work and
One 928 sits in the warehouse as a parts source, picked apart
services, so a double garage building just behind the Pasadena offices and showroom complex acts as an R&D dept for the testing of new parts, plus restorations and installations for local customers. Its chief mechanic has a strong resume in Porsche work, business is picking up and there appears to be demand, so look for this part of the operation to expand in the future; they certainly know where to buy the parts. This shop has just put the finishing touches on Perez’s now minty fresh 1953 Pre-a coupe, which is correct down to single exhaust pipe and the stampings on the glass, and looks absolutely ready for Pebble Beach.
The Pasadena, California showroom welcomes your visit; it’s a nicely turned out and welcoming space to just come by and troll. The Los Angeles based warehouse isn’t a customer facing part of the operation, although does have a Will Call gate if you’d like to pick up your purchases direct and save the shipping time or costs. Should you happen to visit Southern California in March, during the Porsche Literature Fair week of Porsche events, the warehouse hosts Sierra Madre’s annual “Lit Fair week” open house, the parking lot overflowing with all manner of Porsches and Porsche folk.
Many of Sierra Madre’s employees are Porsche owners, so they practice what they preach, and are happy to sell you a sticker, a set of spark plugs, a fan belt, an owner’s manual, an oil filter or an engine rebuild kit – and of course one or a dozen of its famous series of Porsche coffee mugs.
You can do your ordering yourself online or via the phone with any of the expert sales reps. If you don’t yet own a Porsche, you’ll find a nice variety of cars for sale even though Sierra Madre isn’t a front line dealership per se. And if Sierra Madre doesn’t carry the uber difficult to find pieces you need, they’ll scour their worldwide roster of suppliers to help you find it. The parts are always out there. PW
Many of Sierra Madre’s employees are Porsche owners
Starting with 356 parts, California based Sierra Madre Collection is in the perfect location to tap into the US’S vibrant early air-cooled scene
Above right: Sierra Madre’s ‘charming’ VW Type 2 pick-up for ferrying and collecting parts. Right: The Sierra Madre team left to right: Danny, Cash, Mike, Jenna, Edga, Paul and Ryan
We love having a poke around at Porsche specialists around the world. Treasures abound at Sierra Madre – a 914 lurking here, a Martini liveried 924 there and, of course, racks and racks of the ‘stuff’ Porsche owners want and need
Left: Showroom sells all the right Porsche goodies that enhance the ownership experience. Sierra Madre Collection’s, Jorge Perez, driving the business ahead