Automatic Appliance gets the parts
Counter associate Marcin Santra measures out some lint exhaust tubing for a customer at Automatic Appliance Parts Corp. in Norridge | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 14, 2012 12:38PM
NORRIDGE — Anything from a part for that favorite avocado-colored stove from the 1960s to a piece for a new, top-of-the-line refrigerator can be found in Norridge.
Automatic Appliance Parts, 7757 W. Lawrence Ave., is a family-owned business supplying parts to tradesmen and homeowners since 1968, said Brian Campbell, general manager and grandson of founders Roger and Corinne Flinn.
“About 70 percent of our business is to technicians and 30 percent retail,” he said. “Anything from someone looking for water filters, cleaners, easy-to-replace parts to the technician who goes diving into the machine.”
In addition to its counter service, AAP serves customers through its call center and an updated website.
The 25,000-square-foot warehouse in Norridge is stacked with a diverse range of inventory.
“We have parts for dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, garbage disposals, stoves, range hoods, microwaves,” Campbell said. “We have parts for Bosch, Thermador, Dacor – high-end brands that many other appliance parts suppliers don’t stock.”
Forty-five years ago, the business consisted of a small inventory in the family’s Glenview home.
“I remember sitting around the dining room table filling boxes with parts,” said Kathy Clausen, company president.
As the company grew, so did the number of parts bins.
“At first we just had parts in the house,” said Jeff Flinn, vice president. “Then we had bins in the garage.
“Mom decided the business had to move when a semi showed up,” he said with a laugh.
The first store, at 2735 N. Central Ave., burned down in 1973. The store reopened at 4441 W. Diversey Ave, and seven years later, moved to the Norridge location.
The company now has seven stores.
Besides keeping up with new technology, AAP also keeps track of older parts.
“We have parts books from the 1960s and ‘70s,” Campbell said. “We can find that information.”
AAP employs 50 people, Flinn said, “and that includes people doing outside sales, calling on appliance dealers.
Sheila Taylor, an 18-year employee, works the phones at the Norridge store’s call center.
“We have a lot of homeowners looking for knobs for their stoves or lint screens for their dryers,” she said. “Then we have the (technicians) that call with five, six model numbers.
“We have to look them up, and it takes some time.”
Wayne Karp has been with the company for 35 years.
“This is a good, good place,” he said from his position behind the counter. “There’s good rapport with dealers; it’s a good family to work for.”
Evolving with the industry advances keeps AAP busy, Campbell said.
“We’re always looking for ways to improve,” he said. “Our new website is more user-friendly so people can order parts online.”
In the last few years, AAP has expanded its offerings to include parts for heating and air conditioning systems.
“It’s been a real plus for us,” Flinn said.