LIKE FAMILY

Late Model Auto Parts Values Employees



KELLIE'S CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY

Brothers Steve and Mike Shaver started their company with a simple philosophy - they wanted to “fight for their right” to improve the auto recycling industry, beat the competition - and have a good time doing it.

The year was 1998. The Shaver brothers had spent 14 years working at Birmingham Auto Parts, in Kansas City, Mo., and they were ready to start their own company. They purchased Late Model Auto Parts, Inc., another Kansas City yard that had been operating since 1985.

“When we purchased the business, we put together a small group of employees,” Steve said. “We all had the same goals in mind: work hard, have fun and produce the best parts for our customers at the best price.”

The Shaver brothers and their small group of employees sought to improve the industry by “doing everything even better,” Steve said. This meant computerizing, offering high-quality parts and placing a big emphasis on customer service. Steve believes this attention to customer service sets Late Model Auto Parts apart from its competition.

“Customer service is one of our strongest attributes,” Steve said. “If we do not have the part that our customer is looking for, our staff goes the extra mile to locate it at other yards, to save our customers money and time.”

Seventeen years later, the brothers have succeeded in their goal, and the business is still going strong. Late Model Auto Parts now employs 18 workers, processes around 700 vehicles per year and occupies five acres.

Steve said the company is “constantly striving to improve.” About three years ago, the company purchased a nearby business and increased Late Model Auto Parts’ space by nearly 40 percent. The new building provides storage for engines and transmissions and houses the dismantling facility. Other improvements in recent years include a remodeled office counter, a new roof on the office building, a privacy fence, solar panels and a state-of-the-art computer system.

Late Model Auto Parts uses Car-Part.com to track inventory and connect with other recyclers across the country.

“We use Car-Part Report to buy the correct vehicles for our customer base, on their request,” Steve said.

While the improvements and updates have helped Late Model Auto Parts succeed, Steve said the real secret to the company’s success is something much simpler, people.

“We all work together as a team,” he explained. “Everyone's input is important, and we help each other if needed, no matter what job title you have.”

The employee culture at Late Model Auto Parts is friendly and family-like, in part because the company is family-owned and operated. In addition to the Shaver brothers, Steve’s son Jon works at Late Model Auto Parts as an inventory specialist, and Steve jokes that he’s already grooming the fourth generation of Shavers, like his grandson, Hunter.

“He’s only six, but he’s been a part of Late Model Auto Parts since birth,” he said. “We treat our employees just like family. Equally. There is nothing we ask of our employees that we, too, haven’t done.”

This family-friendly attitude incudes employee benefits not often offered by small businesses, Steve said.

“On a weekly basis we provide uniforms, lunches, flexibility for their own family, sick days and vacation,” he said. “On a yearly basis we provide bonuses based on performance.”

Late Model Auto Parts is also active in the Kansas City community. Steve said the company has purchased a fire truck for local parades and also participates in the “Cars for Heroes” program, a non-profit organization that provides free transportation to veterans and their families.

What’s next for Late Model Auto Parts? Just one simple goal, said Steve: “To be the best in the industry!”

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