Aftermarket Parts For More Than 40 Years
Maurice Finkel was a parts man in the 1960s. He was seen throughout Indiana and Kentucky peddling parts for a company out of Chicago, Ill. But, business really took off when he started thinking about how to make his own parts.
“He was, and still is, an innovator,” declared son David Finkel. “He brought many new things to market, most notably the pear shaped tag.”
Maurice founded the aftermarket parts business, National Automotive Lines, Inc., in 1969 with his wife Carol. Their sons, Ken Finkel and David, helped around their school schedules. They joined the business full-time after completing college.
“We started with supplies to the salvage industry,” explained David, “from ball tip markers to tags and related items. We evolved into a full-line supplier of new aftermarket parts.”
The company now sells everything from door handles to gas tanks, hub and bearing assemblies, manifolds, lamps and lenses, taillights and window regulators. Warranties are set by the manufacturers, which are located all over the world.
“One of the most difficult things for the business was the shift from domestic manufacturing to overseas manufacturing,” recalled David. “For example, in the 1970s and early 1980s, the brake rotors were North American. Then, we saw the transition to Mexico and China. The price has gone down but the quality has gone up.”
Automotive recycling facilities and automotive repair shops make up the bulk of the business. National Automotive Lines ships internationally. Its familiar yellow catalogues are a fixture on customers’ desks.
“We have published our own catalogues since we started, and they include pricing, which is unusual,” David said. “But our family’s philosophy has been upfront and honest in everything we do. While other people might charge what the market will bear, we work on a cost-plus basis.”
The catalogue’s basic format is the same but now it is in full color. David noted that it is important that it is published each year.
“One thing we’ve been able to provide over the years is consistency,” said David. “Since we’ve started, we’ve had the same address and the same phone number. In fact, if you called back in the 1980s, you might have even talked to the same employee. We offer consistent pricing and knowledgeable staff, and always strive to be the best for our customers.”
Maurice is long past retirement, but he still comes into work every day. According to David, no one knows more about alternator and starter parts and standard transmissions.
“We’re very fortunate,” said David. “There is no greater joy and / or trust than working with your family.” The close knit group of employees is like an extended family, which is one reason so many of the original staff chose to stay. They’re rewarded with time off and recognized.
“In our catalogue, we publish a list of the organizations where our employees volunteer,” said David. “We’re very proud of their efforts.”
David is active in the community, from serving on the local school board to starting a performing arts center. Ken is president of the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation.
Both look forward to the possibility of handing National Automotive Lines down to their children.
“The thing I like most about the business is that we have customers that have grown generationally with us,” said David. “My father did business with their father and now we are doing business with their children.”