This weeks interview is with Rick Schmidt, President and CEO of National Parts Depot. Rick will be a monthly contributor to the show over the coming year so I thought it would be a great idea to kick things off with a full blown interview.
By far, one of the biggest things I’ve ever wanted to know about Rick as what it was like to (literally) grow up inside the founding of NPD and whether it was something he had always wanted to be a part of. He was honest to say that as a high schooler the answer was probably…no! But, interestingly enough, cars were in his blood – and always had been – and after a couple of years of college when his father needed him to head to Michigan to get their store there back on track, he left school and got the job done. That experience helped him to realize that it was actually a pretty great fit for him, and that he and his father Jim honestly worked pretty well together. 20 plus years later he’s never looked back and has been in the family business ever since.
NPD’s business model has evolved over the years, but their mainstay of having multiple warehouses (with store counter service) with actual parts in stock strategically located across the country is the same model they use today. For the most part, Amazon uses the exact same model as well (though NPD was first)! The obvious benefit to the customer is that they get the parts they want to order quickly, affordably, and on time. It’s a model they still follow to this day. No part orders from NPD are drop-shipped, be it from Taiwan or otherwise!
Rick did allow me to pick his brain a little on how it is they choose make/model of vehicles to offer parts for, and to date when ever I’ve asked this question of anyone in the industry I’ve never received an actual answer – until now. Believe it or not, but one of the bell weathers that he’s used when looking at new lines is that of…..replacement carpeting! He explained that replacement carpeting, combined with looking at active vehicle registration data generally tells you well when cars are being renovated/restored. They further analyze how the market is being served by other players in the industry, and if they feel they have the ability to enter it as a leader, they put in the research and go for it!
We also had the chance to chat a little about the NPD car collection, including his favorite car of them all, his ’68 Shelby that his mother drove when he was just a kid. I asked Rick about one particular car that I had heard be purchased before Rick Hendrick could, a blue 2012 Camaro ZL1. He told me the back story of obtaining that Camaro and that there are only three on the open market and the fourth is held by GM itself. ZL1registry.com/ZL1 Blue
One future insight Rick was able to give me was that the NPD website will be changing for the better. The changes will happen over the next summer and you can find out more at www.NPDLink.com. Of course the website is not a replacement for a good paper catalog and you can order yours at the same web page https://www.npdlink.com/printed_catalogs
Thanks for the interview, Rick!
This interview sponsored by our pals at National Parts Depot –
your premier source for muscle car restoration parts!