Car parts distributor adds DC

by MM&D staff

LONDON, Ontario—Vast Auto Distribution Ontario is expanding its network and adding a new parts distribution centre.

The Montreal, Quebec-based auto parts supplier, which serves 70 member stores and hundreds of other automotive trade customers in Ontario and Quebec, plans to open a new 30,000sqf location in London, Ontario (in the vicinity of Highway 401 and Wellington Road) in March 2014.

“It’s meant to service the Southwestern Ontario market,” said Tony Del Vasto, vice-president and general manager of Vast Auto.

“It is going to be replenished daily from our Brampton, Ontario DC. It will be primarily a satellite warehouse that will be a place where the auto parts stores in the vicinity can come in and pick up parts.

“We have other satellite warehouses like this in our network. We have one in Quebec City, Quebec and one in Scarborough, Ontario. They all fill a need in the marketplace. It’s a very simple operation—it’s not complex. But it’s getting us closer to the customer than we can get from Brampton.”

In addition to the two existing satellite operations, Vast has two large DCs: in Brampton, and one in Montreal, Quebec.

Where the London warehouse will differ from its satellite counterparts will be in size. Scarborough is 25,000sqf and Quebec City is 22,000sqf.

“One of the things we learned is we needed a bit more space to operate the facility properly. We got a bigger footprint this time than we did the previous two times,” said Del Vasto.

“The two smaller facilities are a little bit tight as far as space requirements. So we got a little bit more space this time for two reasons: One to maneuver well within the building, and two to store more product and to have deeper inventory.”

Del Vasto said there will be approximately 80,000 SKUs in the London DC, which will operate from 8:00AM to 6:00PM Monday to Friday and from 8:00AM to 1:00PM on Saturday.

The hours are in keeping with the schedules kept by automotive repair shops and parts counters who Del Vasto said he expects to see as walk-in customers.

“The drivers will come in an pick up the parts up over the counter and leave,” he said, explaining that in addition to saving on the delivery charges, there will be one prime reason why customers will come to the DC.

“It’s going to be speed of getting the part. If they need a part ASAP in the morning or the afternoon, they can come and get it as opposed to having to wait until the following day.”

Del Vasto expects walk-in customers to originate in a radius defined by a one-hour drive.

As to why Vast picked London, as opposed to another city in the area, he said the city just made the most sense.

“We got to Brampton, we looked out into the western part of the province. London is a key town for distribution in terms of highways and population density and geography. It made intuitive sense to explore that market. Once we did our market studies, sure enough, we realized there was potential there.”