Fred's Auto Parts
When Fred Knopp Jr. bought Fred's Auto Parts from his dad, Fred Knopp Sr., in 1995 he saw the potential to expand the 14-acre automotive recycling facility.
With goals of streamlining efficiency and doubling the facility's vehicle capacity, he built a 40-by-60-sqaure-foot warehouse, and later added another 60-square-foot bay.
As Knopp Jr.'s love for the industry grew, he took leadership roles within local industry associations. He served as the Automotive Recyclers Association of New York (ARANY.com) president in 2000, and again in 2010.
"I've always liked the business and it's all I've ever done," said Knopp Jr. "I started getting involved with our state association. I met some people who were successful at it, and I followed their lead."
Fred's Auto Parts, located in Oswego, N.Y. faced some competition in its early years.
"We faced our share of challenges," admitted Knopp Jr. "There was a well-established [auto] recycler across town. Initially, people would tell us, 'I buy my parts from them.'"
But through years of good service and additional amenities like local delivery and computerization, Fred's Auto Parts (FredsAutoParts.com) was able to establish itself. Eventually, the neighboring auto recycling facility went out of business.
"They were really nice guys; we used to buy from each other," noted Knopp Jr. "I was sorry to see them have to close their doors."
He overcame additional obstacles through the years. When a neighbor wanted to close the business down because vehicles sat on a hillside, Knopp Jr. lowered the hill and installed an earth berm.
Fred's Auto Parts focuses on light trucks and domestic autos from 1998 to 2004, and offers aftermarket parts as well. The standard warranty is 90 days, but Knopp Jr. is considering new options, such as one- and two-year warranties with labor when customers use certified mechanics.
The business ships across the United States and Canada by UPS and freight. It generally markets to New York's Oswego County and surrounding areas, and often distributes flyers and advertises in the Yellow Pages or local PennySaver publications. Fred's Auto Parts attracts online business through its eBay store and is slightly more wholesale business than retail.
"We've built a good business through word of mouth," admitted Knopp Jr. "We're small enough that we can react to the sale quickly. Someone could order an engine and it's on the delivery truck that afternoon or the next day."
Rewarding Hard Work
Knopp Jr. credits much of Fred's Auto Parts' success to a dedicated staff that cares about the business. To reward their hard work, Knopp Jr. buys lunch once a month, holds regular cookouts and lets them work on their own vehicles on weekends.
"Everybody here does a great job of going that extra mile," he explained.
Knopp Jr. improves his own facility, and others, by signing his staff up for the Car-Part.com Recycler Executive Training Roundtable, a peer facility support group.
"We visit each other's yards and offer a critique," he explained. "We also offer suggestions on how they can improve."
When the peer support group visited Fred's Auto Parts its cleanliness stood out, according to Knopp Jr. The facility has been recognized for its neatness before; ARANY awarded Fred's Auto Parts the most improved auto recycling facility in New York in 2001.
Owners: Fred Knopp Jr.
Location: Oswego, N.Y.
Years In Business: 39