Parts Manager Brenda Walther says she is excited to bring on Omnicraft, a new aftermarket product line being offered by Ford to dealerships.Auto Plaza Ford Parts Manager Brenda Walther, Service and Parts Director Jeff Elliot and Service Manager Pam Petsch are in the midst of expanding and remodeling.

Auto Plaza Ford on the move

New Quick Lane facility, remodel, new product lines and charity events lead way at women-driven dealership

De Soto, Mo.— Joe Pettus, co-owner of Auto Plaza Ford, says he couldn’t be any more excited.

“We have so much happening right now. We’re going to be opening a brand-new Quick Lane facility, remodeling our service area and showroom, as well as bringing on new product lines for our parts and service departments.

Shawna Pettus, his wife and co-owner, also added that they have a “hugely successful, wonderful” fundraiser event coming up in June for a local charity group.

The Quick Lane facility, set to open in June, will be in Auto Plaza’s former service center down the street.

“It’s going to take a load off our backs here in the service department because we’ll be able to handle more brand-specific repairs and recall issues,” said Pam Petsch, Auto Plaza Ford’s service manager.

The new facility will be equipped with new lifts and state-of-the-art diagnostic and repair equipment set up to handle routine maintenance, light engine repairs, brake and suspension repair, as well as tire replacement and repair.

The dealership moved to a new building in 2013 and it’s in the process of remodeling the exterior to accommodate Ford-approved signage and Ford store layout. Construction is also taking place in the service area to better suit the needs of the dealership.

 

New product lines

Brenda Walther, Auto Plaza Ford’s parts manager, said she is excited to introduce Omnicraft parts as an alternative line of products.

Omnicraft is an all-makes aftermarket product line that was created by Ford Motor Company that will be supplied to Ford dealerships across the nation, she said. The line includes 1,500 of the most commonly requested parts, including oil filters, brake pads, brake rotors, loaded struts, starters, and alternators. Ford indicated the number of parts to be available from the Omnicraft line will eventually include 10,000 or more, “for customer convenience.”

“We will still be stocking Ford and Motorcraft replacement parts, as well as a small inventory of Ford collision repair parts in-house, to be used in our Ford service department, but having this new line will be a great way for us to provide customers looking for repairs on their non-Ford vehicles,” Walther said. “It will be a very good addition for our Quick Lane as we anticipate most of the vehicles going in will be other brands.”

Another product line expansion will come with an increase in tire stock at the Quick Lane facility.

“We are excited to be able to offer more tires to customers and we’ll be able to price match any of the chain stores in the area, which should be a great opportunity for us to draw in new customers,” Petsch said.

    

Female management team

Both parts and service managers are women and their perspectives and way of running their departments have been a “breath of fresh air for us,” Pettus said.

Walther and Petsch come from families with automotive backgrounds and have applied themselves in various aspects of the industry to get where they are today, they said, and both have advice and outlooks for the future of women in the automotive industry.

“My husband and I ran our own family-owned repair shop for many years. My advice to other women is to listen and learn from those around you if you want to truly expand your knowledge of the automotive industry. Don’t be afraid to apply yourself and challenge yourself to advance,” said Petsch, who has been with Auto Plaza Ford for two years and has been involved in the automotive industry since 2003.

Walther, who has been with Auto Plaza Ford for five years and in the industry since 1998, added, “My husband was a mechanic and I was around cars all the time. I decided to take an interest and try to learn as much as possible from him and to try to make a career of it. I started out delivering auto parts and it just kind of went on from there.”

Both feel they can relate to the anxieties women coming to a dealership, or any repair facility.

“Having women in the service and parts side of things helps with woman-customer interactions,” Petsch said. “Seeing that we know what we are talking about when it comes to cars and not feeling intimidated has a huge impact on whether or not they will feel comfortable in the future when they come back.”

 

Horsepower for Hope

Auto Plaza Ford, along with the other Auto Plaza family of dealerships, will be hosting Horsepower for Hope, June 9, at Bonne Terre Dragstrip. Shawna Pettus is coordinating the event.

“This will be our fourth year putting on this community event. It has grown so much over the years and we expect 1,500-2,000 people. It started as something fun we would put on for our community. Last year we raised over $23,000 for the local veterans organization, Camp Hope.

“Auto Plaza Group completely plans the event, which is all volunteer-based, giving many of our employees a great service opportunity. It takes many months of organizing and planning. We couldn’t be prouder of how the event has grown and the impact it has made for Camp Hope. Over the years, we have raised nearly $40,000, and that really helps their mission of honoring our fallen by helping our wounded,” Pettus said.

 It is one of the many events that Auto Plaza Group has to help local charities. “Our employees know, and our community knows, that we aren’t just another business, we make a positive impact in our community, and it’s an honor to be able to do so.”

The event is open to the public as well as to racers looking to run their cars on a local track with a top payout of $5,000. For information on how to enter go to www.autoplazagroup.com and fill out the entry form.

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.