L&P Automotive Paint profits by having a well-stocked warehouse with top national brands and value lines
Anaheim, Calif.—Among the many challenges facing independent jobbers is consolidation of collision repair shops and even some jobbers, Larry Wolbrink, L&P Automotive Paint and Supply owner, said.
“When I opened the store in 1987, the body shop business was totally different than it is today,” he said. “Most of our customers were mom-and-pops. Individually owned shops that we’ve had as customers for decades are being bought out by consolidators and are therefore using the consolidators’ suppliers.”
As a result, Wolbrink said he has found alternative ways of doing business and changed his business model. Customer service is a top priority, and the national paint brands offered, including Axalta, House of Kolor, Nason, SEM, PCL, and Matrix, have been augmented.
A few years ago Wolbrink added Axalta Industrial Coatings as well as their Aviation line of products, which he said has enabled him to bring in new customers from outside his core automotive-related business.
The store also sells Advantage Coatings which is an automotive grade paint that performs exceptionally well, not only for automotive use, but also as an exterior coating.
“Advantage is an automotive-grade coating at a reduced cost to the customer,” Wolbrink said. “It is also a great industrial coating that can be mixed with different gloss levels and applied directly to metal.”
Some of his industrial customers include amusement parks, waste disposal, crane companies, and cement companies, Wolbrink said.
L&P also stocks most major brands of paint and body equipment and supplies, including DeVilbiss, Sata, Iwata, Warwick, Sharpe, Astro Pneumatic, and Binks spray guns, RTI regulators, Makita and Vaper power tools, and 3M, Norton, PCL, and SEM supplies.
The store also offers custom color matching, done by veteran painter Angel Avila, and makes custom paint spray cans, done by Eddie Gonzalez, using the Super Omni-Fill 100 system.
To remain up to date on new products and industry trends, Wolbrink said employees receive ongoing training from several sources.
“We rely on training programs and new product bulletins provided by the factory sales reps that we are in constant contact with,” he said. “Our reps have been very helpful and easy to get in touch with.”
L&P has three trucks that make regular deliveries to Orange, L.A., and Riverside counties, although Wolbrink said most deliveries are within Orange County.
“We find that our industrial customers don’t require the same level of service we give to the repair shops. If a customer is in a jam for something we bend over backward to accommodate them. We try to schedule deliveries dependent on our customers’ needs,” he said.
Wolbrink said L&P is smaller than many jobbers so he is able to offer more individualized service and respond to customers’ needs more quickly.
“We are honest in our business dealings,” Wolbrink said, “and provide personal service and a positive customer experience that they may not be getting from large wholesalers.”
Outside of occasional promotions, Wolbrink does little advertising. About 95 percent of the store’s customers are repeat. Word-of-mouth, Google, and Yelp are the number-one sources of new customers although Wolbrink is developing a website to attract new business.
“We find the best indicator of promotions is repeat sales,” he said. “We follow up with our customers to find out how new products are working out for them, and if they’re ready to reorder from the last promotion.”