PMF speaks to YMF Car Parts’ Operations Director Lee Jones and its Layerthorpe Branch Manager Tim Woodhead about the company’s relationship with the bilstein group.
YMF Car Parts was set up by the O’Brien family in 1969, with the first branch opening in a former butchers shop in Layerthorpe, York. Today, the business operates from six sites (York (Layerthorpe), York (Poppleton), Malton, Selby, Scarborough, and Harrogate), with a fleet of 30 delivery vehicles.
The business relationship between YMF Car Parts and the bilstein group started in December 2003 when YMF started stocking febi rubber metal steering bushes. This was back when YMF was a two branch operation in the York and Malton areas.
Our conversations begin with Lee Jones, who joined YMF Car Parts in 1999 as a Warehouse Assistant. Lee has worked his way up through the company to the pivotal role of Operations Director.
Q. Can you tell us how the business relationship has evolved from the early days?
Lee Jones (LJ): The relationship has gone from a new business relationship, where we started buying the odd part that we couldn’t source from our incumbent suppliers, to a point where the bilstein group is now our biggest supplier. It’s also probably the supplier we have the best relationship with in terms of contact, idea sharing and shared goals.
Q. In your opinion, how has the business relationship benefitted YMF?
LJ: I feel that we can bounce ideas off the bilstein group, and get an honest and open response to our ideas. This is usually followed up with a plan of their own, including ideas of how they can help us put our plans into action. When you have an open, honest and supportive supplier, you can be an open, honest and supportive customer.
Q. Is there a stand out bilstein group range that has done well for you, and why?
LJ: The febi steering range has probably been the most successful so far, as they have been market leaders in this category for so long. The product’s quality has been far superior to its competition over the years, allowing febi to grow into a trusted and respected brand in this area.
Q. What made you choose febi for that particular range?
LJ: Initially, it was the availability of parts that weren’t available from our incumbent suppliers. Over the years, it has been the quality of the product and the fantastic customer service they provide.
Q. Is there a stand out bilstein group product that has done well for you, and why?
LJ: Again, its steering range has done really well for us for the reasons already mentioned, but we have also recently introduced the Blue Print braking brand into our business, which is going down really well with our customers. It is a high-quality product at a competitive price with a three-year warranty and it sells itself really.
Q. What would you suggest to other motor factors considering the Blue Print and febi ranges?
LJ: I would suggest that if they have the opportunity to work with Blue Print and febi then they should do so.
Q. How would you rate the ongoing support you receive from the bilstein group?
LJ: The additional support is excellent! They are always keen to help with anything that we ask of them, and the response to any (reasonable) request is generally positive.
Q. In your opinion, how important is the joint marketing and promotions you have carried out?
LJ: As a business, we like to work closely with our key suppliers and support them as they support us. Joint marketing and promotions work to strengthen that relationship further, so it’s a win-win for both sides.
Q. Where do you see your relationship with the bilstein group going in the future?
LJ: YMF has some exciting plans for 2021 and beyond, and the bilstein group will play a major role in helping us fulfil our ambitions. I’ve no doubt that this will strengthen the relationship between our two businesses even further.
To understand the relationship from a branch perspective, we carried on the conversation with Tim Woodhead, who joined YMF Car Parts in 2005 as a part-time van driver. He now manages the company’s Head Office branch in Layerthorpe, York.
Q. Can you tell me a bit about the branch you manage and when it was established?
Tim Woodhead (TW): I manage the Head Office branch in Layerthorpe. This is the original branch set up by the O’Brien family in 1969, although it no longer occupies the original site, as it moved to its current location in 1974. It is the foundation upon which the company has expanded over the years and is still very much its cornerstone today.
The branch currently has a workforce of around 50 people, from drivers through to directors, and operates within an area of about 150 square miles, mainly to the north and east of York.
Q. What feedback do you receive from customers on Blue Print and febi products?
TW: We always get a very positive response from our customers. It is never hard to sell a Blue Print or febi product. Customers regard them as high-quality products; they are consistently reliable in their fitment and longevity.
Q. How has the bilstein group range performed for you over the last year?
TW: We have seen a very strong increase in our Blue Print brake and clutch range sales recently. I think this has been down to a combination of price and the excellent three-year warranty, which is unbeatable at this price point.
Q. Can you pinpoint your best performing product from the bilstein group range?
TW: Our best performing product recently has been the Blue Print pad range. The products are of excellent quality, with all the fittings in the box at a great price with a great warranty.
Q. In your opinion, what do you think makes Blue Print and febi stand out from competitors?
TW: I think the strong emphasis on OE matching quality at a very competitive price keeps them at the forefront of the market. When you then add into the mix a great technical team that is just a phone call away and the back-up of a class-leading warranty, it is a package that is difficult to ignore.
Q. What are your thoughts on the bilstein group Partsfinder?
TW: The Partsfinder website is the first one on my favourites bar. It is such a comprehensive and accurate website, and I use it on a daily basis.
Q. How did the Partsfinder training evening benefit you and your team?
TW: We were at the forefront of the Partsfinder website development and helped to test the first version. It was quite different from its predecessor – Blue Print Live – but we could immediately see the benefits once we got used to it. The training evening was very worthwhile for all the team, as it gave us a better understanding of its capabilities and the best practices to use to maximise its efficient use.