Robust parts inventory and machine shop delivers 25-percent growth for ECM
Santa Ana, Calif.—Don Boydstun, owner of Engine Components & Machine (ECM), said cutting out the middleman by being a factory warehouse for major engine component companies is a key factor in helping the shop achieve 25-percent growth over last year.
Helping that expansion is ECM’s 10,000-square-foot warehouse that keeps more than $1 million in inventory, including Preferred Components Inc. (PCI), DNJ Engine Components,and Hilix International Cylinder Heads.
“We stock thousands of their parts,” he said, “and we’re listed on their websites with our location and phone number, so people can order online from them and pick up the parts here.”
ECM also carries every major brand of aftermarket engine parts and components, which he buys factory-direct, and passes the savings on to its customers.
Boydstun said he also attributes the growth to the improved economy, and the fact that ECM has been open since 1971 and has many customers who say they have always bought from them, or were told to buy from them.
“We often get new shop business when a technician moves to a different shop and recommends us. So we’ve actually got a following among the techs.”
The shop’s website has generated new business as well, and Boydstun uses Google ads, which he said is probably how the service manager at MV Transportation in Irvine, which services the Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA), among others, found out about them.
“But, so far, the Google ads response has been mostly from one-time retail customers, not wholesale, who want an engine or head rebuilt, or a part for a certain engine. Word of mouth is still our best source for new customers.”
The shop’s primary customers are repair shops, auto parts stores, other engine shops, dealerships, including Tustin Hyundai, Tustin Honda, and Simpson Chevrolet, plus engine repair work for several area water districts and OCTA.
The shop has two delivery trucks that pick up and deliver several times a day throughout Orange County and Western Riverside County, and same-day shipping is available for most orders outside those areas.
The machine shop
In addition to selling engine parts and kits, ECM has a complete machine shop with the equipment to remanufacture long blocks and components such as heads for modern engines, classic engines (between 25 and 50 years old), and vintage/antique engines (50 years and older).
“We also do complete engine R&R for most domestic and import vehicles in-house,” he said. “We remove and remanufacture the customer’s engine and reinstall it.”
ECM will soon be warehousing electric vehicle batteries for Hilix International and will be offering installation in the near future.
Boydstun said he has found common pattern failures with almost all engines regardless of make or model, noting that Chrysler 3.7, 4.7, 5.7, and 6.1-L engines have valve seat retention problems, and Ford and GM 4.7 and 5.4L LS engines have oil pump problems.
“Most quality aftermarket manufacturers, like Melling Tool, have overcome these issues saving the rebuilder from comebacks and R&D time and cost,” he said.
Rebuilding is quite different from remanufacturing, Boydstun said, noting that often the rebuilder will pick through engine parts that can be used again, or core parts are not re-machined.
Not resizing connecting rods or regrinding crankshafts is common practice, Boydstun said. A remanufactured engine has all new parts and all core parts are re-machined in most cases better than OE specs. And that never varies at ECM.
“Engines enter the shop at the disassembly station where all parts are discarded except core items, which include the engine block, crankshaft, cylinder heads, and connecting rods. Each item is then sent to its respective department for re-machining before being reassembled into a long block. All long blocks are pre-spun on a run-in machine to check oil pressure, compression, leaks, etc., and include pans. That’s how we can offer a 12-month/12,000-mile warranty on all rebuilt engines.
“One challenge I see is block and head resurfacing and obtaining the correct roughness average (RA). Many rebuilders are struggling to achieve the correct RA required for the high-tech MLS gaskets used today, because they are still using carbide tooling. We upgraded our surfacing machines to ones that use CBN tooling so we can achieve the 20-30 RA required for MLS Gaskets.”
To keep employees up to date on parts changes and other issues, Boydstun said the shop receives technical service bulletins from OEMs and its suppliers and attends vendor seminars.
“Our machinists, engine builders, and parts counter specialists all have more than 20 years of experience. It would be hard to find someone to teach them something they don’t already know.