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National Autoparts celebrates 30 years serving the motor trade

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

National Autoparts, a mainstay of the motor industry in Ireland marks an important milestone this year as it celebrates 30 years serving the trade. The well known supplier of automotive parts and refinish products is looking back on three decades of success from its site in Inchicore in the heart of the Capital, where it employs over 20 staff.

The company was set up by Louis O’Hanlon, father of current directors John, Conor and Mark, when the opportunity arose to buy out multi-national parts supplier GN in 1986. Current MD John O’Hanlon comments, "Ireland was in the teeth of a recession, the car business was on its knees and Dad had young mouths to feed. The word ‘mad’ comes to mind!”

While rocky times ensued, National Autoparts grew to establish itself as one of the longest standing names in the sector with a loyal customer base of motor factors that includes several from its very first day in business.  

John says that the site of National Autoparts hasn’t changed, but the business today is a very different one to back in the early days. Deliveries are one example, as the company had its own fleet of vans at the outset. He recalls trying to catch such-and-such train in Heuston to get a part to the other end of the country the next day was an everyday chore. Today logistics are outsourced, with customers offered same-day delivery within Dublin on orders before 10.30 and next-day delivery nationwide on orders by 6pm.

Stretching from ABS sensors to paint strainers, the company now manages some 30,000 different parts, all OE-certified and from quality brands such as BG Automotive, Comline, KYG, Mintex and PPG. "It has become a more complicated business, but its purpose hadn’t changed: to supply the right part, in the right place at the right time, every time,” explains John. Expertise in identifying the right part remains a cornerstone of good customer service in the business, and the low turnover of staff which National Autoparts enjoys has meant this knowledge has continued to develop within the organisation. Technology is also playing an important role, with customers sending in videos or images to assist in identifying the correct part.

Coinciding with the 30th anniversary is an investment in IT which the company sees as being a key driver of the business in the coming years. New MAM software allows National’s customers to check stock and prices within their own invoicing system in real-time, or alternatively, from a web portal which all customers are now set up to use.

The company is also running a series of night-time events across the country designed to ensure its customers are up to speed with developments in the parts sector. Expert representatives from National’s supplier network explain and discuss technical advances and issues with both National customers and, in turn, their own local customers.

"I.T. is a key component of our strategy for future growth and we have acted to move ahead of the competition, says John O’Hanlon. "At the same time technical expertise is our key differentiator, and this programme of customer evenings is about accentuating this advantage.” He adds, "Playing on these two strengths, I think we can look to the next 30 years with lots of confidence.” 

Directors John, Conor and Mark O'Hanlon, with father and founder Louis.