Allan Parrott, president
Tidewater Fleet Supply
Why did you get involved in the business?
My father-in-law bought the business in 1998 and needed someone to run it for him. I left my law practice and started as a vice president in 1998. I was very fortunate to have lots of good employees with years of experience who taught me the business. I have enjoyed the proactive part of business — working on growth and strategy — and don’t miss the reactive nature of being a trial attorney. I can even enjoy lawyer jokes now!
Describe your current role in the business?
We have lots of experienced, knowledgeable employees who handle the day-to-day operations of selling parts to our customers. That allows me to focus on bigger picture items like long-term contracts, new stores or new product lines. Our business continues to evolve at a rapid pace and managing change is something I find important.
What is your business strategy?
We want to be a “one stop shop” for our fleet accounts. To achieve that goal, we stock more than 130 different product lines, including light-, medium- and heavy-duty products. We buy most of these product lines directly from the manufacturers so we can compete effectively with companies much larger than ours. We also manage the parts operations for several municipalities and one large corporation where we own the inventory and our employees run the parts rooms.
Where do you see your business five years from now?
Same mission — twice the size.
What is the biggest challenge facing your business today and what are you doing to respond to it?
Price increases from most of our manufacturers and communicating these price increases to our customers. It takes constant work to implement these changes and to make sure we are communicating the changes promptly. Customers don’t always accept the price changes, but if they read the newspaper they know that commodities have experienced hyper inflation over the past 12 months.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of?
We have grown every year since 1998 and we have maintained profitability every year, even during the recession. We have never had layoffs due to a business downturn.
What sets your business apart for its competitors? What makes it unique?
Our 30 delivery vans and trucks provide hourly or nine times a day delivery to 80 percent of our customers. Our online ordering system allows our customers to search our inventory at all locations, generate orders and access electronic cataloging for product lookup. Our corporate philosophy is to maintain the best relationships possible with our employees, our customers and our vendors, and to be a good “corporate” citizen. Weekly branch meetings with upper-level management teams give our store managers and outside sales staff an opportunity to tell us what’s working and what’s not.
Name of Company:
Tidewater Fleet Supply
1324 Lindale Drive
Chesapeake, VA 23320
Owner: Allan Parrott, president
Number of Locations: 8
Number of Employees: 90