Joseph De La Cruz and Joseph De La Cruz Jr.
NAPA Auto Parts
501 W Calton Rd
ph :: (956) 712-4840
SBDC support agent:
As a young man, Joseph De La Cruz worked at an automotive parts store. The auto parts industry intrigued him with the vast types of automotive parts needed to keep in tune with the ever changing times. During this time, Mr. De La Cruz received a grant from the U.S. Government which enabled him to attend a higher education institution. For this grant, Mr. De La Cruz agreed to work for the Government for a period of at least four years or pay the money back for his education.
After almost twenty five years of federal service, Mr. De La Cruz retired. During his federal tenure, Mr. De La Cruz held various supervisory positions in the U.S. and abroad. Mr. De La Cruz also served at three foreign posts as a member of the U.S. Diplomatic Corps.
In 2003, Mr. De La Cruz negotiated the purchase of the NAPA Auto Parts Store (Store) located at 501 West Calton road, Laredo, Texas. Almost sixteen months later, it was agreed that the Store would be purchased by JDEL Ltd., one of Mr. De La Cruz’s corporate entities and an affiliate of the DLC Group. The DLC Group is a conglomerate of various diversified corporations.
Mr. De La Cruz discussed the project with Mr. Alberto De Llano, 1st Vice President, Commerce Bank at Laredo. (Commerce Bank is a preferred lender for the Small Business Administration). Initial financing for the purchase of the Store was an issue since the bulk of the money was for inventory purchase and historically, lending institutions require greater down payments and apply more restrictive terms for these types of loans.
Based on Mr. De Llano’s vast experience in working with the SBA and the past credit history of the DLC Group, Mr. De Llano recommended an SBA guaranteed loan. By pursuing an SBA loan, Mr. De La Cruz would benefit from a longer term and a lower down payment. Mr. De La Cruz contacted Ms. Araceli Lozano, Director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Laredo. Ms. Lozano concurred with Mr. De Llano’s suggestion and explained that the SBA would guarantee 80% of the loan and that Commerce Bank would only be at risk for 20% .Ms. Lozano assigned Ms. Gladys Rangel as the contact point between the SBDC and the DLC Group.
During the latter part of 2004, representatives of Genuine Parts Company (GPC), the parent company of NAPA Auto Parts, traveled to Laredo and met with Mr. De La Cruz and his son, Mr. Joseph De La Cruz II. The following day the NAPA team and De La Cruz’s met with Ms. Rangel who provided guidance and the appropriate forms.
Although the forms provided seemed like a giant mountain of paperwork, Ms. Rangel’s patience and expertise made the entire process very simple. Best of all, since the SBDC is a U.S. Government sponsored institution, no fees were incurred for this invaluable service.
The completed forms were then sent to Ms. Cindy Solano, Loan Specialist, SBA San Antonio, who reviewed the forms for accuracy and contents. Ms. Solano processed the application in a professional and expeditious manner. The letter of approval was then returned to Mr. De Llano who culminated the loan transaction.
In early 2005, the DLC team went to work. Within a few days of acquisition, the GPC team headed by Mr. Lee Maher, Group Vice President of Midwest Region, traveled to Laredo in support of the Store. At least twenty other NAPA staff members also joined in to provide guidance and direction. Mr. Cruz Yanez, GPC Territory Manager, was assigned as the primary point of contact. The response and support of GPC was phenomenal. GPC is like a giant family who faithfully supports all their Jobbers.
Mr. De La Cruz and the GPC Team concurred, that the best course of action was to increase the Store’s inventory. The additional inventory would include heavy truck, industrial, farm, marine, small engine, automotive paint, industrial paint, and high performance parts. This would make the Store “A One Stop Parts Shopping Center”.
To provide better and faster customer service, the staff was increased from four full time and four part time employees to fifteen full time employees, which included, two full times outside sales representatives and one full time in store cashier.
The vehicles used to service the added employees increased from two to six delivery trucks. Sales and customer service training were also provided to our staff to ensure customer satisfaction and prompt service. Our staff will quickly tell you that our greatest asset is a satisfied customer. The Store’s philosophy is: “If the part exists, we either stock or can get it.” The NAPA name is best recognized as the store where you can get “hard to find and quality parts”.
Marketing was also instrumental in the success of the Store. Advertisement billboards were placed at strategic locations in the Laredo area. Store “tool day specials” were also placed on the local newspaper both at Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Local television and radio stations also participated in the promotion of the Store. Competitive pricing, super fast service, and the diversity of the added inventory were the focus of the advertisement.
All these fast paced initiatives established the infrastructure for success. The performance of the Store was quick in surfacing. The first month of operation resulted in sales that exceeded all expectations. The second month broke the all time record dating back to 1995. The first year in operation under DLC direction, the Store achieved a sales increase of 116%.
Today, the Store continues on a steady upward increase. Everyday more and more citizens of “Los Dos Laredos” enjoy the NAPA’s Store friendly and courteous experience”.
We pride ourselves in providing the best parts in the industry, at the best price and in the most expeditious manner. We at NAPA want to be recognized as the only locally owned national brand parts store who provides the fastest customer service; we know how important it is to get the right parts expeditiously. Today, the Store is one of the leaders in the auto industry at Laredo and all indications are that NAPA Auto and Truck Parts Center will continue to grow.
Thanks to all who made this possible and in particular to our customers, the people of Laredo, Nuevo Laredo, and the surrounding communities for their loyalty and support.
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