When Charles Lukens was in India demonstrating APU Solutions' PartsNetwork, it was 3 a.m. in Texas. But when the APU Solutions' CEO hit a button, in a matter of seconds he had access to hundreds of auto recyclers' inventories. The search showed more than 300 listings including details about the parts' availability, quality, price and purchase method.
That's the beauty of APU Solutions' PartsNetwork, which instantly links auto recyclers to customers. The network was conceived as a follow-up to the old phone tag search for auto repair parts.
"We initially founded the company to increase the use of recycled parts," explained Scott Westbrook, vice president of sales. "We wanted to bring technology to a segment of the industry that didn't have it at the time. We began with recycled parts, helping recyclers get more exposure to insurance companies and repair shops. Due to demand, we have expanded to all alternative part types - recycled, aftermarket, reconditioned, remanufactured and surplus OE."
Ten years later, the APU Solutions system, Overland Park, Kan., is now a premium network of alternative parts suppliers, including auto recyclers.
"We don't just allow any recycler in the network," explained Westbrook. "They have to be requested by a collision repair company or an insurance company with whom we already work. Then, we send someone out to inspect the facility, process, inventory and put in place a service-level agreement. Recyclers agree to the standards stipulated in the agreement - pricing parts, grading parts, describing parts and using ARA damage codes. It is the quality of the recycler that matters, first and foremost, not the quantity we bring into the network."
APU Solutions' part supplier network allows faster access to inventory through its shared system. The fully automated product works 24/7, 365 days a year and uses a complex websearch engine.
"We automate much of what a recycler does over the phone," said Westbrook. "For instance, if someone calls and asks for a door assembly and you don't have it, you would look in a sister company's inventory, find it and quote it as your own. We're able to do that electronically in seconds."
Westbrook described the APU Solutions network as a set of bridges connecting alternative part suppliers, collision repairers and insurers. "When we started, there were all of these islands of data," he said. "We built bridges between individual systems so they could talk to each other."
The company's DataNetwork software helps auto parts suppliers manage their business.
"Today, most recyclers give away a snapshot of their data with little knowledge of what happens to it," said Westbrook. "Our DataNetwork allows recyclers to mine that information and manage their business better. They learn how their inventory is performing and what parts are in greatest demand by year, make and model."
APU Solutions' search engine is so powerful that third parties are now integrating it all across the industries it serves. For example, The Locator's new part search, Part-Spot.com, uses it. "No engine out there today is more accurate because it is searching live," said Westbrook. "We're already integrating it with two major estimating companies and other partners today."
Participation in the basic network is free for auto recyclers, while APU Solutions will launch a premium version at the annual ARA convention.
Owners: Charles Lukens, Scott Westbrook, Jay Scruton & Evie Royse
Location: Overland Park, Kan.
Years In Business: 11
Number of Employees: 33