Truck Parts Sales, Inc. is a business born from the American Dream, built upon a belief that with hard work and a commitment to treating people right, a person can build a successful business. 43 years ago, armed with that belief and a pickup truck, Bob Prothero started his business. Initially, he sold truck parts out of the back of his truck, but he slowly grew his business until he built up an inventory and opened a shop, where he catered to both wholesale and retail customers. 16 years ago, Bob’s son Aaron joined his father, and eventually took over the family business. “My dad wanted to be his own boss,” said Aaron, “and I’m of the same mentality.” Aaron is actually the third generation Prothero to work in the truck parts business; his grandfather began a Peterbilt dealership many years before.
Truck Parts Sales, Inc. is located in Lewis County, Washington, a rural and geographically large area south of Olympia. Although the business does have a significant number of walk-in customers, a large area with low population density requires Aaron to regularly make sales calls to bring in new business. Advertising does not do much to drive sales, so word of mouth referrals are important—particularly because a big challenge of maintaining a successful truck parts business is the low margin on parts.
Many folks in Lewis County are tied to the oil or lumber business, two industries with notorious boom and bust cycles that cause prices to sometimes fluctuate. To offset this, Truck Parts Sales has remained steadfastly committed to providing superior customer service. “We are always striving to help a customer out as much as we can,” said Aaron. This includes opening up the shop after regular hours as needed, delivering parts for free, and participating in a buying group with other small and medium shops to negotiate better prices from manufacturers.
Although Aaron followed in his father’s footsteps, he is unlike him in one regard. “My father plugged along, changing things as they needed to be changed. He was, ‘if it works don’t fix it,’ but I’m one of those guys who says ‘if it works, let’s see if we can make it better.’” That is exactly what Aaron did last April when he set out to find new accounting software to replace his obsolete 25 year old system. Having built his own computers, Aaron knew a thing or two about software. But he was also on a budget. His online search for a new system yielded six promising results, only two of which were within his budget. Cougar Mountain was one. When the Cougar Mountain Sales staff introduced him to their Denali accounting software, he was impressed with the range of capabilities it offered at such an affordable price. “Their price point for what they offer you is amazing, particularly compared to their competitors. I would have expected to pay 20-30% higher for what they offered.” He also noted it was simple to learn and implement.
Catching on to how the software worked was pretty quick, and if you know how to operate a smartphone you can operate Denali.”
Truck Parts Sales has been in business now for over 40 years and continues to grow. Aaron’s twin boys (age 6) love visiting dad at his shop. Like his father before him, Aaron has been slowly and carefully building up the business, expanding inventory, and keeping costs low. Denali has been an important tool to help him maintain greater control over his price structures and manage variables such as quantity and loyalty discounts to ensure he maintains his profit margins.
Denali was definitely worth the money. Cougar Mountain understands how small businesses work.”