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AMN Drivetime Video

Tom Taylor: How Rock Auto Grew to be A DIYer’s 1st Call

Rock Auto’s goal is to “liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter.”

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An Admitted “car hoarder,” Tom Taylor, VP of Marketing and Co-Owner of Rock Auto, says he and his family really lucked out when they founded the online auto parts retailer in the midst of the “Dot Com” bubble. According to their website, Rock Auto’s goal is to “liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter,” and make auto parts affordable. After more than 20 years in business, with Rock Auto now a household name amongst car lovers, it is fair to say that mission has been successful. 

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“It was really lot of dot com companies in the beginning, like toys.com. They had all this money and felt they had to create everything from scratch. So they would say, ‘let’s build a warehouse and let’s buy all this inventory.’ For auto parts, you didn’t really have to do that. It was the, the perfect timing because the big chain stores had put a lot of the smaller auto parts retailers out of business. So, you had all these warehouse distributors and a lot of name brand manufacturers were looking for ways to sell their product be because the big chain stores had their private label brands. So it was really good timing for us that you had all these experts in warehousing, they had the inventory, and they were looking for new ways to sell their inventory. Some of them were trying to sell direct to consumers and shops and struggling with that. So, we gave them a new way to sell and quickly became their biggest customer for all of them or most of them. 

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In this latest AMN Drivetime podcast, Bill Babcox and Tom Taylor dive into a number of other topics, including:

1:59 How Rock Auto was formed

5:00 Surviving the Dot Com Bubble and how Rock Auto outlasted many competitors

6:13 Who are Rock Auto’s biggest customers? 

7:06 How did the pandemic e-commerce boom impact Rock Auto?

8:03 Just how many cars does Taylor own?

10:19 What does the typical Rock Auto customer “look” like?

13:00 The process for picking the right parts suppliers

15:12 How Rock Auto helps professional techs and DIYers pick the right parts and chemicals

17:24 Pricing and serving the professional tech

21:30 The ever-popular Lightning Round! 

AMN Drivetime is sponsored by Litens.

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