Author Topic: It's a crapshoot...Vendor issues  (Read 726 times)

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Offline Lou Drozdowski

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It's a crapshoot...Vendor issues
« on: Saturday,July 01, 2017, 12:46:59 PM »
We all know that when it comes to finding OEM parts for a 40+ year old car and you are bound to the trial and error method. Or...perhaps you have sourced the usual vendors and end up stuck with the part that wont work. 
I wanted to examine this issue after reading recent posts concerning silly trim items like trim panel holders, door seal fitment, hand brake shoes, retainers, windshield trim, and various gaskets and whatever. I sometimes wonder who the vendors are working with to have their inventory made?

I have had mixed results...Banks would be my go to guy, most of the time but w/shipping and exchange you get plunked.
I love Ray at R&D...He is 40 minutes away, however his trim selection at the time would not solve my problem...2 sets of door seals, a set of 1/4 window gaskets, door panel clips, I had to eat and his prices were a little rich...$69 for a headlight knob? had me search elsewhere...I got the hood lift kit from Banks for $250 including shipping...Ray wanted $495?...another lost sale thru no fault of his, I knew I had to keep looking to better his price.
 Dave Bean before his fire... A catalogue website?..never????
Yes, there are others like Paul Matty and S&J...but they get most of their stuff from Banks. I can go on with more horror stories...but ranting won't solve the problem.

We have become a formidable group here...We should be able to influence our own suppliers since we are their only Europa market. I welcome all of your suggestions to help solve our mutual concerns.  Some thoughts?

1. Contact all the existing vendors and have them join...with the dedicated Vendor heading to correct supply and fitment. Fix it right the first time! 

2.Challenge the vendors to be price competitive...they will have to sell at better quality and lower costs to survive.

3. Send in those used parts as templates to determine working reproductions.   

 We are a strong group of intelligent & dedicated folks here with years of knowledge...I look forward to your responses
« Last Edit: Sunday,July 02, 2017, 04:25:42 PM by Lou Drozdowski »

Offline BDA

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Re: It's a crapshoot...Vendor issues
« Reply #1 on: Saturday,July 01, 2017, 06:15:54 PM »
I agree we have a problem that most of us pretty much try to accept so I welcome any ideas that would improve the situation.


Maybe we could start a database of replacements and reproductions as well as sourced for genuine Lotus parts that include the sources, price, quality, fitting notes, etc. If the "Usual Suspects" are aware of this it could encourage them to be more competitive.


This sort of folds into an earlier discussion we had here concerning a wiki. This would be a good topic to include.


As for the hood lift kit, I wonder if Richard is selling to his retail customers at the same price as his wholesale customers. That's something we might enjoy but it's not a good situation for people like Ray he should never be in competition with his retailers. (Incidentally, I got a lift kit from Richard too and it would not "bolt on" to my car.)

Offline Lou Drozdowski

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Re: It's a crapshoot...Vendor issues
« Reply #2 on: Saturday,July 01, 2017, 08:49:22 PM »
Thanks, BDA...I wanted to strike a nerve and glad you posted first. Resto's aren't cheap...I dare to show my wife the receipts I have accumulated over the years.

I have been associated with the automotive retail system for 30 years prior to retirement...

We need a Loyalty program, I know I have spent thousands with Banks and Ray...never got a discount.
Some sort of club/ group /forum  % off could be a start. It would encourage and feed the established members along with the recent new owners to a particular vendor...forcing the other to follow suit.

The point is...what is loyalty worth...we need to be taken care of...not the other way around.

I would encourage all the Hero and senior members to chime in...please...Ideas?

I will be glad to try and get the ball rolling by going directly to Ray and chat with him...
I need the support from all of you first. The more solutions available and strength of our community is paramount.

Remember those famous words from Michael Corleone ?....It's not personal,just business. ld
« Last Edit: Saturday,July 01, 2017, 09:08:21 PM by Lou Drozdowski »

Offline EuropaTC

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Re: It's a crapshoot...Vendor issues
« Reply #3 on: Saturday,July 01, 2017, 11:15:55 PM »
I'm going to give some slack here to the dealers. I saw the scene from their viewpoint back in the 80s/90s when we lived in Yorkshire and I was friendly with Chris Foulds who ran a Specialist workshop for mostly Elans & Europas. He was quite open about getting parts from both Lotus & aftermarket and gave me a different perspective. Being a small dealership and looking at the number of parts you need to rebuild either an Elan or Europa, he had a problem in getting stuff on the shelf. 

For example, think about the "chrome" windscreen trim. You'd buy it in rolls and to get a decent price it would be 100, 200 yard rolls (pure guess on length) and then you'd need the aluminium corner pieces, 4 per car, so let's say you buy enough for 10 cars. The first guy comes along and buys a set. (that was me  :)  ) He tells his mate who also gets a set to put in his store for the day when the windscreen needs changing.  Chris is doing a customer restoration so now has stock for 7 cars left on his shelf. How often do you change a windscreen on a car which is no longer a daily driver ?  I'll suggest that many of the current restorations will never change the screen again, baring mishaps with stones of course.  So the dealer has cash tied up on his shelf until the next restoration comes along, which is cash he can't use to stock the part you want next month.

Now if you're like Alex and doing half a dozen cars at once, then you have some buying power. But the rest of us don't because we simply aren't an attractive market for a dealer to put a lot of his credit into a stock loan.  Back in the 90s, Chris would club together with Paul Matty to get bigger discount and he'd also use his regular customer base as well. I remember him ringing me at work once to see if I was interested in getting a spare set of spring/damper units because they were trying to put a deal together for OEM spec parts.

All of which is my background and not exactly relevant but I think it highlights the problems that Richard, Ray, SJS, etc all have. They'll get a couple of calls for ashtrays and then look into getting such a small part re-manufactured. They end up getting 50 units, sell 10 and then no-one else wants one so the stock gathers dust on their shelf for the next 10 years

Moving into positive mode....     in the UK the MG club recognised the difficulties in the 70s and set up a parts section where they'd essentially get a group buy together. Maybe 20 guys wanting front bumpers so they'd get 50 made and hold 30 in stock for sale as new members joined up. They could do that because there were club funds from subscriptions and of course it's an appreciated member service with some joining simply to get access to the parts.   

There are informal group buys with the Yahoo group, like the guy who created the NG3 cable shift and organised parts manufacture.  AFAIK that worked well.

And I suspect that's the only way forward because if I were Richard, Ray or whoever and someone approached asking for discount or asking me to compete against the guy who I'd just done a buying deal with then I'd not really be interested. Where else are you going to go ?

If we had a definite project, for example we had 20 members all wanting chrome windscreen trim corners (or whatever) then going along with cash deposits which would go a long way to funding the manufacture and leave a couple on the dealer's shelf at no great cost, well that might work. I think group buys where 80/90% of the product is sold before manufacture is the only real option open to us.

The next problem is deciding exactly what we all want next.....    ;)

Brian

Offline 4129R

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Re: It's a crapshoot...Vendor issues
« Reply #4 on: Sunday,July 02, 2017, 01:15:21 AM »
I must be Banks best customer, restoring 7, and I get no favours.

Having been to his shop twice, he has heaps of stock all over the place, and he make a lot of the strange bits himself.

He makes a living, not a fortune, and without him, we would be stuffed.

For parts he cannot get at a reasonable price, add a mark up, and sell on, he just doesn't sell them, e.g. exhaust systems and seats. I have had to source them and have reported that to share the sources here.

I have just reported a source for trim clips.

I don't think Banks' prices are expensive, and if we created a buying cartel and demanded discount, it would probably put him out of business.

I have just about sourced and bought all the consumables from various sources, in multiple numbers, so I have had to find people who stock the original parts, including rear number plate lights, the steering column switches, headlight bowls, seat runners, etc.

I am now using the left over from a sample aluminium cladding panel  sent for analysis following Grenfell Tower (taken off a new build in Slough near Heathrow Airport) as the heat shield below the boot box above the silencer/muffler.

I have found places that refurbish wheels, straighten and re-chrome bumpers, I have found the original fibreglass body moulds, and so far nothing has escaped my searches, but they are all being sold in low volume, so stock is sitting gathering dust, and costing the vendor while in stock.

My keeper 4688R will just about have everything new on it that can be renewed, so will cost me a few quid, but lots of the consumables are cheap compared with modern car parts, and the re-sale value for original un-modified cars is increasing steadily.

I have no moans, it has taken a while to source items, but we all share the info here, and that is what a forum like this is for.

I was about to compile a list of the bolts used soon. The rear suspension is 1/2" or 7/16" UNF of various lengths, but it is very simple to work out what they are and to buy them in. 4688R came in lots of bits in a container almost completely dismantled after a bad crash, so lots of small bits were missing including most of the big bolts. I had to make the ally spacer for the master cylinder on a lathe, but it is do-able. It is round instead of exhaust gasket shape, but that doesn't matter. I made the front closer plate out of 4mm ally sheet, and that looks good, but you hardly ever see it.

So in conclusion, I am quite happy dealing with Richard as is, and I dread the day he decides to pack it in because of lack of profit, or lack of demand.

Alex in Norfolk.


Offline EuropaTC

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Re: It's a crapshoot...Vendor issues
« Reply #5 on: Sunday,July 02, 2017, 03:17:24 AM »
Hi Alex,

Yep, I agree with pretty much everything you've said there, it's only when you stop and think of the real-world market that you realise what you thought was expensive actually isn't. I remember breaking the inlet camshaft in the 80s and the number of phone calls I had to make to get another. At the time I just didn't care about price because without it the car (daily driver back then) was just an ornament.

I think as a group we could have a positive impact in the area of getting parts reproduced. We've seen guys have the rear carriers re-cast for example and it would make sense for a group buy on something which is currently unobtainable. Maybe co-ordinated through a dealer and them retaining a small stock level from the manufacture. Could be good all round because the dealer has stock for future without having to fund 100% of the manufacturing costs.

As an aside, 3-4yrs ago I had to replace the hazard switch on the wife's TT. Audi part, current production and still over £50 for the switch alone. I hate to think what one a Mk3 TT would be now !

Brian

Offline Lou Drozdowski

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Re: It's a crapshoot...Vendor issues
« Reply #6 on: Sunday,July 02, 2017, 05:31:58 AM »
Brian & Alex... Firstly, thank you for the comments. I welcome your continued input going forward. I hope and know that we all understand that the goal is to improve the parts network. Communication and honesty is a cornerstone for any retail operator. When the phone rings and the part is not on the shelf...two things happen. It's a lost sale, and a demand is generated, If this is not tracked, everyone suffers.

Yes, I have participated in group purchases...windshields come to mind. There are tools some retailers use to review trends to monitor and improve supply...but we are dealing with a handful of specialty shops, with limited resources for future investment. I don't want to drive any of them away...just steer them closer.

The Yahoo group over the years has indeed opened the door in some areas, but as their web platform is outdated and cumbersome. It is very difficult to get a clear picture on improving supply.

Can we add a sub group to the parts page for example?...Something we can share with the vendors...and ourselves.

How many of us are currently in full time recovery projects ? Like Alex?...I dare to say there are fewer actual "runners" as opposed to vehicles off the road. I may be wrong, but again... participation in the members map should be better
than what I can see. I've wondered how many real cars are actually out there world wide...

If we can help improve communication and participation between all parties it's a step in the right direction.

Ray has a Garage sale and Monthly specials page...a web newsletter...a perfect example of keeping his clients up to date. If we were to know what old inventory Richard is sitting on in this forum...it would generate interest.

I would kindly ask all of you to keep this thread going, your valued opinions are necessary. Thanks again! ld       
   



Offline jbcollier

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Re: It's a crapshoot...Vendor issues
« Reply #7 on: Sunday,July 02, 2017, 06:08:02 AM »
I worked in British car repair for decades.  Our mark-up was 20% over cost for which we maintained stock and provided warranty.  It doesn't take much dead stock to make the whole thing a losing proposition.  People would moan about the prices all the time.  A turn signal switch for an MGB was $110 and some customers would practically go into full seizure when told the price.  My wife's Corolla needed a turn signal switch and it cost me $325!  My current Volvo needed a seat adjustor knob.  You can't buy it separately: $350 for the assembly.

Ray goes out of his way to stock parts that have been complete unobtainium for years and people COMPLAIN.  Black and silver horn pushes were selling on ebay for multiple hundreds of dollars.  Ray has them made up and sells them for the same price as the ubiquitous green/yellow ones.  It doesn't take more than a month and a lister is moaning about the £$%& price on something that used to take years to find if you could find it at all!

Why not send Ray or Richard 10% EXTRA next time.  That would make them feel appreciated and encourage them to expand their part's offering.

Offline BDA

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Re: It's a crapshoot...Vendor issues
« Reply #8 on: Sunday,July 02, 2017, 06:29:05 AM »
I wonder if setting up a clearinghouse for vendors and customers might not be a good idea. Dave is not going to update his website but he might send someone an email of specific parts and prices that he'd like to make sure people knew about (new reproductions, newly found old stock, bits he wants to get rid of). As Lou said Ray does a nice job at that already, but Richard or JAE (I've never bought anything from them) or the Mattys and SJSs might be interested in this too. The idea is to make it easier for them to get the word out. On the other hand, the clearinghouse could have entries for what people are looking for so vendors might have a better idea of the demand or replacements they've discovered which might also help the vendors source parts. It could include group buys.


I think the idea is to make it easier for vendors to know what and how much we need so they could be more efficient and easier for vendors to get the word out about their bits.


Thoughts?

Offline Lou Drozdowski

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Re: It's a crapshoot...Vendor issues
« Reply #9 on: Sunday,July 02, 2017, 06:38:13 AM »
I worked in British car repair for decades.  Our mark-up was 20% over cost for which we maintained stock and provided warranty.  It doesn't take much dead stock to make the whole thing a losing proposition.  People would moan about the prices all the time.  A turn signal switch for an MGB was $110 and some customers would practically go into full seizure when told the price.  My wife's Corolla needed a turn signal switch and it cost me $325!  My current Volvo needed a seat adjustor knob.  You can't buy it separately: $350 for the assembly.

Ray goes out of his way to stock parts that have been complete unobtainium for years and people COMPLAIN.  Black and silver horn pushes were selling on ebay for multiple hundreds of dollars.  Ray has them made up and sells them for the same price as the ubiquitous green/yellow ones.  It doesn't take more than a month and a lister is moaning about the £$%& price on something that used to take years to find if you could find it at all!

Why not send Ray or Richard 10% EXTRA next time.  That would make them feel appreciated and encourage them to expand their part's offering.

Your point?...I don't want to have a pissing match, everyone has had displeasure at some time during a buying purchase for what ever item in life they desire. I am personal friends with Ray, he is a great guy and dedicated to helping. The issue at hand is exactly what you have described...ending the frustration and solving problems for the future. We would all be better served to stay positive and constructive in reaching a mutual goal...

The identification of the issue, adapt and overcome...Semper Fi   

Offline EuropaTC

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Re: It's a crapshoot...Vendor issues
« Reply #10 on: Sunday,July 02, 2017, 09:02:00 AM »
The Yahoo group over the years has indeed opened the door in some areas, but as their web platform is outdated and cumbersome. It is very difficult to get a clear picture on improving supply.

Yes, it is and even in digest mode it's very easy to lose traction on what's happening there. For me it is very much an "instant messaging" sort of thing these days although I subscribe in digest mode to at least try and keep up with the comments.   The knowledgebase is very useful but the last time I checked it appeared that the latest update was 2013 so it's archival data and not a great resource for finding parts these days.

How many of us are currently in full time recovery projects ? Like Alex?...I dare to say there are fewer actual "runners" as opposed to vehicles off the road. I may be wrong, but again... participation in the members map should be better than what I can see. I've wondered how many real cars are actually out there world wide...

Actually I don't buy a lot of stuff for my cars these days because they don't do a great mileage so I'm not a good customer, certainly not in Alex's league. But I do buy parts I think I'll need when I see them (hoarder mentality) so I would consider participating in group buys.

As for how many cars, I think I've posted before but the "how many left ?" shows what's around in the UK. It's sobering reading and the UK market isn't as large as you might think.

https://www.howmanyleft.co.uk/family/lotus_europa

SORN means off road and being restored/dreamed about and you can see we're looking at around 500 cars which includes all variants. With 300-odd on the road and most likely doing somewhere between 1 & 3,000 miles (normal classic car allowances) then replacement parts isn't going to be a big business. An accountant would tell you to pack in and sell lemonade instead  :)

Brian

Offline BDA

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Re: It's a crapshoot...Vendor issues
« Reply #11 on: Sunday,July 02, 2017, 09:53:31 AM »
Alex's post here (http://www.lotuseuropa.org/LotusForum/index.php?topic=2116.0) is the sort of thing I think we need to catalog and promote. If the clips Alex found work for our cars, maybe Ray (and Dave, etc.) are unaware of better alternatives to currently known offerings and this information could help make them better retailers.


I think more information is always better and there's always room for improvement. I think something along the line of suggestions I've already made would yield a sort of supercharged version of the cross references produced by Lotus West and Golden Gate Lotus Club. But I think we need to keep our expectations in line with a very thin market supplied by a few vendors. Given that, I think our parts situation is pretty decent - but, as I say, with room for improvement.


I worry more about what happens when Richard, Ray, and Dave retire.

Offline jbcollier

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Re: It's a crapshoot...Vendor issues
« Reply #12 on: Sunday,July 02, 2017, 02:17:08 PM »
Hi Lou,

You were very hard on Ray in your initial post.  You stated his trim doesn't fit and I have purchased stuff that does.  You were especial annoyed with his price for a headlight knob.  As far as I understand the situation, the knob has been pure unobtainium for many years now.  He made the effort to get it reproduced.  Now how many knobs should he make?  He might sell four or five very quickly and then after that?  Maybe two or three a year?  Maybe fewer?  So let's say he makes twenty knobs (just guessing).  It costs a lot to make so few of something.  You want hundreds?  Thousands?  Now your cost per item falls dramatically but who are you going to sell all those knobs to?

You are on a budget and $69 for the knob is unreasonable for your budget. I understand and accept that.  But the $69 price may well be a fair price given the costs for a low production run.  If you can't afford something, please do tell him so as that is valuable feedback.  But don't tell him his prices are "a joke".  Not after all he has done to make long gone parts available again.

Offline Lou Drozdowski

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Re: It's a crapshoot...Vendor issues
« Reply #13 on: Sunday,July 02, 2017, 04:13:17 PM »
Hi Lou,

You were very hard on Ray in your initial post.  You stated his trim doesn't fit and I have purchased stuff that does.  You were especial annoyed with his price for a headlight knob.  As far as I understand the situation, the knob has been pure unobtainium for many years now.  He made the effort to get it reproduced.  Now how many knobs should he make?  He might sell four or five very quickly and then after that?  Maybe two or three a year?  Maybe fewer?  So let's say he makes twenty knobs (just guessing).  It costs a lot to make so few of something.  You want hundreds?  Thousands?  Now your cost per item falls dramatically but who are you going to sell all those knobs to?

You are on a budget and $69 for the knob is unreasonable for your budget. I understand and accept that.  But the $69 price may well be a fair price given the costs for a low production run.  If you can't afford something, please do tell him so as that is valuable feedback.  But don't tell him his prices are "a joke".  Not after all he has done to make long gone parts available again.

JB...You are 100% correct, I should have used a better word to describe my initial reaction. I owe it to Ray, and will edit
the post accordingly. I fully understand the difficulty he faces when having to procure and maintain inventory. I remain a loyal customer and I am glad  to have him and the service he provides readily available. I'll try not to be so careless in describing my unfortunate dealings.   Thanks for keeping me in line...ld

 
« Last Edit: Sunday,July 02, 2017, 05:00:07 PM by Lou Drozdowski »

Offline Certified Lotus

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Re: It's a crapshoot...Vendor issues
« Reply #14 on: Sunday,July 02, 2017, 05:02:53 PM »
I don't have any issues with the vendors that supply parts for our Lotus cars. I've restored two Elan's and in the midst of my first Europa restoration.  I pretty much know everyone who can supply parts anywhere in the world. My first reach out is always to Ray at R&D. He is knowledgeable, honest, and responsive. Ray has gone out of his way to help me more times than I can think of. He has my business for life. I also do business with Dave Bean (Ken is who I talk to) and he is the same, huge amount of Insite and forthright. And then for direct to the U.K. Suppliers TTR have provided many parts for my Elan rebuilds.

I've never dealt with Banks as he doesn't respond to emails and I travel too much to have to rely on phone calls all the time. 

More to the point, limited consumer need for limited parts equal high cost. The market sets the pricing.

I don't have an issue. And this is not my first rodeo.