Mark Heaps gives us a tour of Mirfield-based core dealer S.S Components
Ever since he was a child, John Smith always had a passion for cars and dreamt of one day opening his own garage. Little did he know his dream would soon become a reality, setting up a leading auto-parts distributor to supply re-manufactures across the globe. “I started as a dismantler because I wanted a garage and always loved cars as a kid” said Smith. “My friend and business partner used to have a little area at the side of his house where we had five cars. It was unsightly and people complained to the council who chucked us off site”.
It wasn’t all bad news for Smith when his mother’s friend found a solution, renting a plot of land to him for a nominal sum to start up his dismantling business. “Back in 1970, we only had an income of £3 a week because I had a job delivering meat from a butcher shop and my friend delivered groceries. We offered £1 a week rent and the guy accepted it”. Once the land was acquired, Smith’s dismantling business started to grow by purchasing excess stock and selling the core on to remanufacturers.
The operation is very different today with the component supplier now spanning five acres with a multi-million pound turnover, we were keen to pay them a visit. Mark Heaps, Operations Manager for S.S Components, is a known figure within the re-manufacturing industry, having worked for S.S for over a decade and before that at AMK.
The campus was as different as you could imagine from a traditional breakers’ yard with stock organised, packaged and labelled correctly with the part numbers assigned to each customer order. The main warehouses were breathtaking in scale with seemingly never- ending aisles of components awaiting a second chance of life. “The biggest part of the company is the component side that we supply”, Heaps explained. “Our four core products are steering pumps, steering racks, rotating electrics and brake calipers. Brake calipers are in high demand with our current stock totalling 261,911 and selling around 21,000 each month”.
With a large campus to operate, company founder and Director John Smith bought in a dedicated band of 13 remanufacturing professionals to classify and prepare the units accordingly. They also collaborate with an external independent team who scout the most desirable dismantlers and scrap yards around the world to buy and sell the material onto the company. The fleet was also impressive, comprising two tractor units, two trucks and three vans delivering in and around the Mirfield area.
As the tour came to a close, Heaps took me through to the main office, where we were greeted by company founder John Smith. Smith was keen to take us through their bespoke system. Through many revisions it has proved to be a valuable necessity for the organisation, keeping track of all the stock, customer orders and deliveries. “The system is unique to us because we’ve designed all of it and made it work”, responded Smith. “The USP of our business is that when people ring up we’ve got it in stock”. The system provides customers with a sufficient amount of time to prepare the correct transportation for picking up stock. Heaps added: “We tend to hit 98 per cent and above each shipment, hitting deadlines, supply fulfilments and material that we supply”.
The supplier has also been recognised for its eco-friendly practices, winning the gold category for the Green Apple Environment Award in 2014. Heaps elaborated: “The Green Apple Award is a very proud achievement for us. We save tonnes of equipment from going to landfills. Our business is to buy and sell on, but in doing so we’ve helped the environment”.
Finally, Heaps has some thoughts about the supply chain. “We want to educate the guys in the motor factors who sell new rotating electrics without surcharges” he says. Heaps explains that in this instance good core is going to waste because there was no incentive for garages to do anything with the old item. “Instead of scrapping the units potentially they could sell the units to us for far better income than what they’re probably getting” he added. “We’re all becoming more and more aware of being green, efficient and recycling and that’s purely the industry we’re in and I can only see it going one way”.
This is true. With ever more legislation on business practices, being mindful of the environment has to remain ‘core’ to all we do.
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Brake calipers, rotating electrics, steering pumps and steering racks