Vis­it­ing Sierra Madre in Pasadena, Cal­i­for­nia

911 Porsche World - - This Month - Words and pho­tog­ra­phy: Matt Stone

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

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