PARTS SEEK­ERS’ PAR­ADISE

A Trea­sure Trove of Ford and Chevy Truck Parts

Street Trucks - - CONTENTS - TEXT AND PHO­TOS BY EDDY CEBRECO

THROUGH­OUT OUR TRAV­ELS TO IN­DUS­TRY EVENTS, CUS­TOM TRUCK SHOWS, MAN­U­FAC­TURER WARE­HOUSES, OR EVEN JUST SOME RAN­DOM GUY’S GARAGE, WE OF­TEN FIND OUR­SELVES DIS­CUSSING THE CUR­RENT STATE OF THE TRUCK IN­DUS­TRY. Nat­u­rally, our opin­ion on the mat­ter is go­ing to be a lit­tle bi­ased, so when we hear that a ma­jor in­dus­try player like Na­tional Parts De­pot (NPD) is re­al­iz­ing the same pos­i­tive trends that we are, our con­fi­dence grows, and our rep­u­ta­tion strength­ens.

For years we’ve been say­ing that the truck in­dus­try is get­ting stronger by the day, both di­rectly from the fac­tory and in the af­ter­mar­ket. Ford and Chevy have seen their largest sales in­crease in trucks and SUVS, more than any other ve­hi­cle in their lines, and NPD is see­ing a sim­i­lar mas­sive spike in its af­ter­mar­ket truck parts cat­e­gory as well. This is ex­cel­lent news for read­ers and our ed­i­to­rial team be­cause it means that we’ll have lots of con­tent to bring to our ex­tremely sup­port­ive au­di­ence ev­ery month. But enough about us, let’s get to know more about NPD.

What started as a sim­ple garage-based busi­ness sell­ing 1955-57 Ford Thun­der­bird parts has evolved into a mas­sive af­ter­mar­ket parts su­per­store in which any en­thu­si­ast would love to get lost. If it wasn’t for Kim­ber, mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor for NPD and our ex­tremely help­ful tour guide, we prob­a­bly would have got­ten lost our­selves and been forced to beg a ride with one of the ware­house em­ploy­ees. (They move through the mas­sive build­ing on three-wheeled bikes.) With a to­tal com­bined floor space of 375,000 sq-ft, you can un­der­stand why NPD’S em­ploy­ees would rather take a ride when the sales guys need a part up front. Suc­cess like this def­i­nitely doesn’t come easy, but with a his­tory of hard-work­ing and ded­i­cated busi­ness­man in the fam­ily tree, guys like Rick Sch­midt (vice pres­i­dent and COO of NPD) are con­fi­dent that they can get the job done.

Now more than 40 years af­ter Rick’s fa­ther Jim started the busi­ness in his base­ment,

both fa­ther and son oversee 570,000 sq-ft of fully stocked ware­houses around the coun­try, more than 150 full-time em­ploy­ees and nearly 110,000 unique parts available in store and on­line. The num­bers are im­pres­sive and a lit­tle sur­pris­ing, but once you get to know the com­pany or any of the team mem­bers, you quickly re­al­ize the secrets of their suc­cess, and it’s not the num­ber of SKUS they have in their data­base.

When cus­tomers call NPD they gen­er­ally have a good idea of what they’re look­ing for and likely have al­ready done a lit­tle re­search. They call the com­pany to take ad­van­tage of the staff’s ex­pert ad­vice be­fore pur­chas­ing a ma­jor item they’ve been sav­ing for months to buy. The peace of mind you feel af­ter or­der­ing parts from a solid, re­li­able com­pany is sec­ond to none: no wor­ries about be­ing over­charged, no dam­aged or sec­ond­hand parts and ex­tremely help­ful ad­vice about the in­stal­la­tion. With 500-plus sup­pli­ers and mul­ti­ple lo­ca­tions all over the U.S., NPD is con­sis­tently ex­pand­ing its reach in or­der to give its cus­tomers a smoother shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence with faster ship­ping times and top-of-the-line qual­ity con­trol. Now that NPD has fo­cused its sights on the truck mar­ket, we can all get a lit­tle more ex­cited about the project we’re ready to build.

Follow along as we walk around NPD’S Ocala, Florida-based head­quar­ters, which just hap­pens to house the Sch­midt fam­ily’s car and truck col­lec­tion con­sist­ing of more than 160 ve­hi­cles in pris­tine fac­tory con­di­tion. We’re not just talk­ing clas­sic cars and Model

Ts, al­though they have those too, we’re re­fer­ring to the un­re­stored show­room-qual­ity trucks they have on dis­play, like a ’98 Chevy SS with only 16 orig­i­nal miles or the ’67 C-10 with just 20.

CLAS­SIC FORD AND CHEVY TRUCKS ARE DIS­PLAYED IN A CLI­MATE-CON­TROLLED FA­CIL­ITY TO SHOW OFF HOW THEY AR­RIVED FROM THE FAC­TORY. YOU CAN GET A GOOD IDEA WHICH PARTS MIGHT BE MISS­ING FROM YOUR RIDE ONCE YOU SEE THESE EX­AM­PLES.

NA­TIONAL PARTS DE­POT’S MAIN HEAD­QUAR­TERS IN OCALA, FLORIDA, HAS A TO­TAL COM­BINED FLOOR SPACE OF 375,000 SQ-FT.

ABOVE. WARE­HOUSE AISLES ARE ALL NEATLY AND STRATE­GI­CALLY OR­GA­NIZED BY MAKE, MODEL AND PART NUM­BER. IF YOU LOOK CLOSELY, YOU CAN SEE NPD EM­PLOY­EES ON BIKES BE­TWEEN THE SHELVES.

ABOVE LEFT.THIS ALL-STAR LINEUP GAVE US CHILLS, ES­PE­CIALLY ONCE WESAW THE ODOMETERS. THERE ARELESS THAN 20 ORIG­I­NAL MILES ON THAT GREEN FORD. THESE TRUCKS ARE IM­MAC­U­LATE, BUT WE STILL WANT TO CUT THEM UP AND LAY THEM ON THE GROUND— IT’S IN OUR BLOOD.

THE FULL-TIME, IN-HOUSE ME­CHANIC KEEPS THE COL­LEC­TION IN TIP-TOP SHAPE, SO WHEN THE BOSS PICKS A CAR FOR THE WEEK­END, HE KNOWS IT’S READY TO ROLL.

RICK AND HIS FA­THER ALSO COLLECT CON­CEPT CARS AND TRUCKS LIKE THESE TWO FORDS.

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