Evolution of the Parts Position
As a 40-year veteran of the industry, Ron Richards has come of age alongside many of the technological advancements of the automotive industry. From more high-tech vehicles to increased training requirements to the ups and downs of new car dealerships, Richards has seen it all and continues to adapt to changes, particularly in his position as a parts wholesale counter employee.
Richards was introduced to the automotive world by his dad and uncles, who were avid drag racing fans around Denver. He first started out as technician in 1976 alongside a friend and worked at a number of different dealerships before settling in at Christopher’s Dodge World in Golden, Colo. In fact, he even returned to the dealership after leaving for a stint because he was so fond of the management style.
Richards details the top ways every parts department employee should evolve in today’s changing landscape.
1) Be a people person. Richards works alongside 10 other wholesale parts counter employees in an environment he says is all about helping others and being outgoing.
“I’m a people person,” he says. “I like talking to people.”
2) Learn from others. In a changing industry with higher-tech cars on the market, Richards says he encounters challenges when learning a new parts line. Despite using the same computer systems as other wholesale parts people, Richards says that it is necessary to start out in the business by learning all you can from someone is who a seasoned worker.
“A lot of the time I go out to learn from guys in the dealership and the parts department,” he says.
3) Take advantage of technology. The tools that Richards uses now include StarParts, a computer program by Chrysler and Snap-on Diagnostic tools to search for parts.
4) Don’t forget to train. To properly take advantage of technology, however, requires adequate training. Richards frequently attends training from Chrysler, but also seeks out computer classes to learn new technology and will call on a specialist if they can’t find appropriate training.
“Just learn as much as you can and if you’re getting into the industry, go to the people that are more seasoned,” he says.
5) Have a positive attitude. Ultimately, the days of the stereotypical disgruntled auto industry employee are over. Richards says that being outgoing, willing to help others, learn what they have to do, as well as learn from other staff members, goes a long way.