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FOUNDER – NATIONAL PARTS DEPOT
This weeks interview is with Jim Schmidt, Founder of National Parts Depot and restoration guru. Jim started on his path towards NPD at the young age of 14 when he decided he needed to restore a Ford Model A. He found an 1928 Model A sports coupe in a salvage yard and proceeded to tear it completely apart. Many parts for severely rusted and required breaking them just to get them apart. When Jim went to put the car back together he found out that many of the fasteners to restore the car correctly were not available.
Being an entrepreneur at heart, Jim found sources for the parts and had parts made if he could not find them. He started selling these as bolt kits for the proper restoration of Model A’s. At age 17, he approached JC Whitney about carrying his parts in their catalog and almost overnight he was swamped with orders for the kits.
Following the Model A business, he started a pneumatics company with his father. However, it was not until he severed his ties with the family company that he was able to devote his full effort to developing his own restoration business and helping people restore their vehicles to a high level. When he moved operations from Ohio to Florida and built a new building, it was originally designed for restorations (parts sales were secondary).
Jim found out eventually that it was taking a lot more time redoing what his employees had done, to get the vehicles to his level of quality and did not make much sense doing that. He quit the restorations side of the business and focused on making quality parts at affordable prices so others could enjoy restoring their own vehicles.
In the latest 1970’s and early 1980’s Jim started making Thunderbird parts for his personal ’57 (which he bought age 17) and, like the Model A, began to sell packaged parts for it. When he started Ford still made most of the parts for that car that he could source directly!
Later, NPD added 65-68 Mustang parts, which at the time was only a ten year old car. As the market grew, the Mustang parts sales became “The gorilla in the room” and remains the largest segment of NPD sales. NPD has been entering other markets also such as Firebird and Mopar product lines. Jim said that one of the NPD employees mentioned that for the Mopar line, interior parts alone would be an addition of over 8000 parts. He said that NPD actually stocks all of it’s parts on the shelf and is really quite rare in today’s business environment. Currently NPD has over 100,000 parts in stock ready for shipment.
Thanks for the interview Jim and thank you for your support of the show!
This interview sponsored by our pals at National Parts Depot – your premier source for muscle car restoration parts!