In Their Words: Answers by Larry Franklin, owner
WHY DID YOU START THE BUSINESS?
This business, like many others, was an offspring of the auto wrecking yard and the automotive surplus business. The learning curve has been invaluable. In the 1950s direct lines were tied up by the big distributors. The rest of us bought at “jobber” and resold the items to the end user. It was the era of the three tiered distribution system.
There was a need to expand the business. Since we were predominant in our knowledge of brake lining and brake drums, we progressed to wheel attaching parts, bearings, seals and hubs. Our customers helped guide us toward items and lines they required and the expansion came naturally. Air valves, compressors and hoses fit right in with the brake systems. It was not long after we opened the first branch that we added suspension parts to the mix. A few years and another location later, we began providing leaf springs and air bags, and then complete suspension systems including axles.
By this time, we had become complete under-carriage specialists. The suspension parts business led us to steering parts, and we now have a complete steering rebuild facility and are making custom crosstubes and drag links at our San Fernando Valley location. Fifth wheels and hitches seemed a natural extension of the under-carriage parts. We now carry lighting and accessories, starters and alternators, fan clutches and kits, clutches and, with the opening of our newest location, driveline service and parts.
To this day, we continue to be guided by our customers. One of the nicest compliments we get is the customer calling for something and saying: “I know you don’t carry these but…”
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR TOUGHEST BUSINESS DECISION?
The toughest decision was not when to open up the first branch store, but when to let go of the reins and let my son Greg take over the business.
WHAT WAS YOUR BEST BUSINESS DECISION?
Letting go and giving others a chance to manage.
WHAT WAS YOUR WORST BUSINESS DECISION?
It hasn’t happened yet.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO KEEP A COMPETITIVE EDGE?
Focus on providing the best in service and product, as well as adding products and services that complement our offerings and fulfill our customer’s requirements. Our customers know that the Franklin Truck Parts sales staff is well trained and able to advise on most any brake, suspension, air system, steering or other technical problem. We cultivate excellent people and achieve excellent results.
WHAT IS YOUR FIVE-YEAR VISION?
Continue to service our Southern California customer base and grow with new locations to fill gaps in coverage area and market demand. If this calls for new locations, new products or new services, we will attempt to fill those demands.
WHAT IS YOUR BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY?
Franklin Truck Parts has always been market driven. We strive to provide quality products and services at reasonable prices. We manage inventories based on regional customer demand and work to have everything on-hand that is needed to complete a job. n
Address: 6925 Bandini Blvd.
Commerce, CA 90040
Owner(s): Larry, Mollie and
Number of locations: 8
Business model: Our business model is to do what needs to be done for the customer at each location. Each location’s inventory is dictated by the needs of the local customers. The same is true for our shop services at each location.
Growth plan: To continue to add products, services and locations to meet customer requirements. We will continue to stay with recognized quality products and sell value rather than price.