Spilman Auto Parts

Spilman Auto Parts, Inc. (SpilmanAuto.com) may be located in a rural area, but it still receives plenty of walk-in traffic. The Bloomfield, Iowa auto recycling facility gets about 30 percent of its business from retail customers. After all, it has been in the same location ever since Charles Spilman opened the business in 1946, more than six decades ago.

"We do our fair amount of advertising and marketing," said current owner Rick Piper. "But I think people also know us because they've been coming to us for years."

Piper Pays Spilman

Rick grew up at the business. His father, Danny Piper, purchased the facility from Spilman when he was ready to retire in 1986. Danny had worked for Spilman for 32 years, so it was just a natural progression.

Today, Danny is retired, but Spilman Auto Parts remains a family operation. Rick's wife, Vicky Piper, handles the bookkeeping, and their son, Eric Piper, is the sales manager. There are 28 employees including several who have been with the company for more than 15 years.

"We have one guy who has been here 32 years and another for 25 years," explained Rick. "It's a really tight-knit group, we are very much like family. We try to take good care of them because our employees are our most valuable asset."

Quality Counts

The business specializes in vehicles that are 10 years old or newer. It dismantles about 1,300 autos and trucks a year and sells rebuildables as well. A third of its inventory is foreign. Parts include a 101-day warranty with extended warranties available.

"We work hard at quality control and customer satisfaction," noted Rick. "We also know that time is an important factor. That's why we get the parts out in the next one to two days. People don't want to wait much longer than that."

Spilman Auto Parts offers local delivery service on two daily routes. One runs 125 miles in either direction, and the other covers about 50 miles. It ships all over the United States, too. The majority of customers remain in the Midwest.

"We've started airing radio ads in areas where we deliver, and we've seen a big difference in our delivery requests," said Rick. "We also do TV ads on cable. We run them during NFL football games and NASCAR racing."

The Internet has also expanded the company's reach. "Our parts are in front of so many people," explained Rick, "that it helps move a lot that we wouldn't otherwise move in rural Iowa."

Local Pride

Spilman Auto Parts also gets its name out through community donations. It sponsors a Little League team and loans vehicles to the EMTs for Jaws of Life training. It recently received a certificate of appreciation from the Davis County Fair for lending its loaders to fair organizers.

"We've built a lot of relationships over the years," said Rick. "That's the best part of the business, knowing our longtime customers, the other yards and the people in our community."

The business has faced two significant challenges since the Pipers have owned it. "We had a warehouse burn down in 1989," remembered Rick. "We lost all inventory and had to rebuild. Then two-and-a-half years ago, we had a bad hailstorm. We lost 75 to 80 percent of our sheet metal. It was a big blow but we overcame that one."

As for the future, Rick has a ready answer. "We're going to continue to grow," he said. "There's always room for improvement. I don't want to think we've done everything we can."

Owners: Rick & Vicky Piper
Location: Bloomfield, Iowa
Years In Business: 65
URL: SpilmanAuto.com

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