Oct. 20, 2003 – Fox sees continued gowth

ALBANY, N.Y. — Fred Fox, founder and chairman of Parts Unlimited headquartered in Janesville, Wis., told a gathering of aftermarket suppliers that he sees continued double digit growth for the company this year and next.
Fox made the comments at the company’s annual Showcase promotion here in August.”The market is still strong,” Fox said during an interview with Powersports Business, “but you have to pay more attention than you did in the past. There was some temporary softness in ATV, but then we seemed to grow through it.” He said revenues at Parts and Drag Specialties are expected to grow by at least 10% this year and next, but he declined to provide total revenue figures. Sales this year will be up some $50 million, he said.
“We’re enjoying a good year,” said Fox, “and I think the industry is very strong, but people are skeptical. One thing—dealers aren’t buying on spec, and the pipeline is pretty clean.”
The Aug. 24 event held here and at the company’s new warehouse in Ballston Spa, N.Y., drew more than 800 dealers. More than 180 suppliers exhibited at the show.
Latest Warehouse Technology
Parts Unlimited uses its annual Showcase to demonstrate its new warehouse technology as well as new products.
The New York facility is the largest of Parts’ eight warehouses in North America. It has a 220,000 sq. ft footprint and stacks inventory in four levels, up to a 32 ft. high ceiling. It’s the first four-level warehouse for Parts which can now meet fire codes because of modern sprinkling equipment. The height of the building requires special circulating systems which maintain only a two degree temperature difference between the floor and the top level.
The building sits on a 21-acre site that has been prepared so the building can easily be expanded by another 160,000 sq. ft.
The Ballston Spa facility is a completely paperless operation, driven by a bar-code system. Small tote carts, guided by the bar-coded information, run on long conveyor tracks, traveling from the ordering station to product destinations where products are picked and loaded by hand. Infra-red systems prevent traffic accidents and help guide the carts on the quickest routes through the warehouse.
Approximately 70% of Parts’ orders come in by phone and the rest via Internet. FAX orders are obsolete, says Fox. Internet orders are growing by about 3% annually, and many dealers order on Sunday. “It used to be,” says Fox, “when we came in Monday, we weren’t busy for a couple of hours. Now, we may have two or three thousand orders in the system.”
Parts has no plans to expand into Europe, even though it regularly ships there as well as to Japan, Australia and other countries.

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