Advance Auto Parts stores expand into Tri-City market
By Laura Kostad
A national car parts store has decided expanding into the Tri-City market is a good idea.
[blockquote quote=”We’re the largest retailer of after-market auto parts in North America.” source=”Travis Timmons, general manager at the Kennewick store” align=”right” max_width=”300px”]
Advance Auto Parts opened at 105 N. Ely St. in Kennewick in May. A Pasco store is under construction and one is planned in Richland in the coming year.
The national chain, headquartered in Roanoke, Virginia, operates throughout the state, including stores in Spokane, Yakima and Wapato, primarily supplying commercial repair dealerships and other parts stores, such as Les Schwab.
Travis Timmons, general manager at the Kennewick store, said the company identified competitive market opportunities in the Tri-City region.
The Pasco store is under construction on the site of the old Dairy Queen at the corner of Court Street and 14th Avenue.
Development of the 8,000-square-foot Pasco site began in June. Corstone Contractors of Snohomish is the general contractor. The new location is set to open near the end of October, with a Richland store to follow next year.
Timmons will be co-managing the Kennewick and Pasco locations until a store manager is selected for the new shop. Twelve to 14 employees work in each store.
Timmons reported that business has been good and growing at the Kennewick store since moving into the new, 10,000-square-foot space next door to Rite Aid.
“We’re the largest retailer of after-market auto parts in North America,” Timmons said.
Though the company identifies other major auto parts retailers, O’Reilly Auto Parts and AutoZone, as its primary competitors in the area, Timmons said “we bring the benefits of doing business with a national chain and bring it down to a hometown store level.”
Advance Auto Parts holds true to founder Arthur Taubman’s vision in 1932 to be a purveyor of parts for everyday consumers. Today, the company continues to serve car restoration hobbyists and those who prefer to do repair work themselves.
Over the course of Advance Auto Parts’ 85 years in business, the company has grown to acquire several other auto parts chains throughout the country, including General Parts International Inc. in 2013. Advance Auto Parts also operates its WORLDPAC and Carquest stores.
Timmons said these acquisitions have helped the company to evolve to meet market demands. He said the purchase of Carquest, in particular, introduced a commercial focus to Advance Auto Parts, amid increasingly complex and computerized car designs, which have narrowed the do-it-yourself market.
“Now we have the best of both worlds,” he said.
Timmons said that great pricing, a stringent hiring process and strong commitment to customer service company-wide have contributed to Advance Auto Parts’ success.
“We hire the best in the industry to work for us. A lot of our guys have worked in the industry for a long time in repairs, major repair dealerships and other parts stores,” said Timmons, who has 18 years in the industry. “Knowledgeable people that genuinely care about what’s going wrong with your car.
“It begins with the employees being happy first, which transcends to the customers … our frontline guys are the glory of the company.”
Timmons said his team’s goal is to put a smile on the customers’ faces by the time they leave. Local shop referrals after a casual assessment of the vehicle are not uncommon. “Even if they’re not buying, we’re going to put them in the right direction,” he said.
And if Advance Auto doesn’t carry the part?
“If the part exists, we’ll find it for you. If we don’t carry it, we’ll buy it, and sell it to you. We want to provide customers with what they need every time, which guarantees repeat business,” Timmons said.
In addition to its focus on customer relations, Advance Auto Parts champions community involvement.
Since the Kennewick store’s opening, Timmons got the local branch involved with the annual Corvettes on the Columbia event and became a member of the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Timmons said he hopes to start up periodic, store-hosted clinics on car safety and other related topics in the future.
Advance Auto Parts also participates in many major donation drives, such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Red Cross disaster relief, United Way’s after-school education programs and Building Homes for Heroes.
The company is also focused on advancing its environmental practices through the sustainable disposal of many waste streams, including car batteries, motor oil and filters, antifreeze and shipping materials.
Retrofitting of existing stores to more energy efficient options, such as LED lighting, high-efficiency heating ventilation and air conditioning, and the installation of energy management systems, have on average reduced energy usage by 30 percent per store, according to the company’s website.
Advance Auto Parts is at 105 N. Ely St. in Kennewick and can be reached at 509-396-2582.