Since earning its first nomination for the Trucks, Parts, Service Distributor of the Year Award in 2016, Action Truck Parts has been in growth mode. The Chicagoland distributor doubled its footprint that year with a second location in Rockdale, Ill., then followed that expansion by opening a store in January within Chicago’s city limits.
The swift expansion is the culmination of a business plan Vice President Nick Seidel put into action more than five years ago. Now standing firm with three locations and three nominations (2016, 2017, 2019) for the Distributor of the Year Award, Seidel says he’s pleased with how his company has grown. He admits Action Truck Parts is a larger and more complex company than it was when he first came on board but says that’s a good thing.
Action Truck Parts is facing challenges because it’s thriving. It’s growing at an incredible rate. And considering it just entered its teenage years, Seidel says he and his team are thrilled by how the business is growing up.
“It’s been a lot of headaches but it has also been a lot of fun. I’ve truly enjoyed it,” says Seidel, who was first introduced to the trucking industry though his family’s business, Midwest Fuel Injection. He was named Action Truck Parts’ branch manager in 2010 and vice president in 2013.
Seidel says the time he has spent watching his grandfather, father and Midwest Fuel Injection President Paul Thoms lead that business has been crucial in navigating Action’s growth. Seidel has a stable of experts he can turn to for advice, and he’s using them.
One piece of advice he has implemented across Action’s three stores is constant collaboration and communication. The company may now have three locations but it still functions as a single team. Employees are encouraged to share experiences, customer information and product knowledge from store to store, and each month Seidel brings the staff together to discuss goals, expectations and long-term plans.
“I think it’s important [employees] know what’s going on,” Seidel says. “You can’t build a culture if you don’t tell them what you want them to do.”
The company’s willingness to listen and evolve with its customers also has helped it break into the tough Chicago market, where prices are low, margins are slim and competition is cutthroat.
“It’s been a learning curve. We used to have customers say they’d go into the city for certain products because it was cheaper and we never believed them,” Seidel says. He says the company has played the pricing game on some items, but has maintained its margins on others, instead focusing on cultivating an inventory that provides a one-stop shop for the city’s diverse customer base.
Seidel believes that focus on customer experience will be important as the company considers additional growth opportunities.
“One thing we want to do is show the customer more,” he says. “We want the customer to see when they need a part that we’ll have it, or we’ll get it for you and stock it.
“We want to make their lives easier.”