By Jerry Spradlin, Contributing Editor to Import Auto Parts and Accessories Magazine
Originally written for IAPA Magazine
The World Series Team of Auto Parts Professionals has a new state-of-the art Stadium.
I have spent the last year traveling and writing about the Future of the Automotive Parts Distribution Industry, primarily focusing on the issue of the Domestic WD and Import WD evolving into the Global WD Business Model. This month my journey led me to longtime customer and client FCP Euro’s new facility.
As the tour of this facility begins it is immediately noticeable that the sterile efficient purposeful environment is the focus of FCP “Mono-Branding" this building as the "Residence Hall for Auto Parts Distribution Innovation." The corporate culture housed here, subtly presents the focused message - "we are the FCP Team, and we are here to consistently take care of business and our customers." Absent is the industry standard of unorganized chaotic display of message confusing traditional sexist parts posters, the usual "dorm room" appearance of individual workspaces, blaring radios, shouting, and obscenity laced conversations. Obviously this is not an atmosphere for all, only the best. One can virtually feel the radiating sense of individual validation achieved by being a contributing member of a winning team. A team where there is a waiting list of qualified applicants waiting for an opening position.
Only three staffers, including the President/Founder, have prior auto parts experience. However you will find ASE certified Master Technicians with relevant marque experience, and avid enthusiasts from all walks of life now gathered in one place to purposefully nurture their enthusiasm for European Automobiles.
Efficiency of professionally designed space is evident. In work areas the stark white walls provide a continuous erasable marker surface for illustrating thought. The office area is surrounded by management offices utilizing clear floor to ceiling glass walls underscoring the transparency of the mono-purpose unified FCP Corporate Culture while funneling outside sterilizing natural light throughout the facility. Along with the light radiates the fact that a lot of informed professional architectural thought went into the design of this facility. Utilizing professional expertize is openly embraced by FCP management, thereby reducing risk and accelerating growth.
Each desk space is as clear as the deck of an aircraft carrier, allowing clear focus for the project at hand. The resulting near library and/or church noise level and ambience underwrites the corporate discipline of 100% focus on customer care. This sense of purpose permeates the low noise level, realized through engineered noise control baffling, and purposefully maximizing natural light by design, including full glass dock doors for more light in the warehouse.
Incoming phone calls are handled via computer managed rotation distribution with two flat screen monitors displaying real time progress in the customer assistance phone room. Another demonstration of FCP’s conviction of measuring everything to facilitate the best possible management. FCP realizes that although their business is internet based, a majority of customers in their specialized niche, seek counsel from qualified parts and service professionals.
A well-designed “Think Tank” room houses the intellectually property factory with a number of dedicated professionals harmoniously producing blog and website content, including cataloging and also stock replenishment functions.
There is a professional photo room with two light boxes including controlled lighting and a tripod mounted camera linked to a single purpose computer for the purpose of editing images to produce totally clear and accurate images for marketing. This enables the FCP Customer to “better see” their parts before purchase.
FCP produces “in house” their widely respected industry leading “How to Videos” for the benefit of their internet communities. They are available for free on the FCP website.
I also noticed the office space allotted to a full time Human Resources Manager to professionally minister to the needs of the FCP Team.
As we move into the warehouse, the FCP Corporate Culture attention to detail thinking continues to be evident with custom magnetic shelving labeling enabling immediate easy spontaneous reorganization as needed without adhesive scarring. To a seasoned parts person the absence of ratty paper bin boxes is immediately eye catching. They are replaced with monochromatic matching plastic bin boxes grouped by size, not product manufacturer, to maximize space efficiency. The Warehouse Manager is well versed in the art/science of Warehouse Management. And, like the rest of the FCP Team, he has the proper tools to execute his duties. UPS Logistics contributed to the design of the well-lit clean warehouse.
The FCP team enjoys the comfort and refreshment of a lunch/break room that could welcome an Italian version of Martha Stewart with the latest in appliances and cabinetry. My first thought was I would like to work here, my second thought was I would like to live here.
I can only imagine that this “University Learning Environment” will feed/motivate the FCP Corporate Culture to continue well balanced Innovation and escalate their focus on customer understanding and care. Professional Design mandates Cultural High Performance from respect for the clearly Stated Mission.
Finally, professionalism rivaling any and all other industries, including health care, computer science, NASA, and whatever else, has arrived in the auto parts distribution industry and is living well in Milford, CT.
For an expanded tour visit FCP Euro's Google+ page for a full photo gallery.