Name: Mark Gapp
Job Title: Owner
Mark, you’ve been in the game for a while now. How did you get started?
I started back in ’92 I think, with a $200 car. I ordered 100 spark plugs and hoped I would sell enough of them for cash before I had to pay for them. I did 60,000km in that rusty old Corona, trekking around the countryside calling into workshops to see what I could help with. I ended up selling around 4500 plugs a month, then got into leads, oil filters, oil, etc, and things have just got a bit carried away since. We now have three stores, Palmerston North, Napier and recently Lower Hutt, with literally hundreds of brands and thousands of parts in stock, and access to almost any brand you can think of in the performance game.
You must have seen the whole scene change a bit since ’92?
Yes, we are seeing a higher standard of car being built nowadays, with a wider range of parts available, which are now more affordable due to better manufacturing processes and a stronger Kiwi dollar. In recent years we have seen a large number of cars come in from the States, creating a whole new market for restoration parts. Using our existing supplier network and our freight systems, we usually end up saving our customers a significant amount on the freight and can supply the parts at very competitive prices.
Is the internet having any effect on sales?
Yes, we are selling more with the help of the internet, due to our new website that has just been launched (www.proparts.co.nz); and we have access to more information, which makes our job easier. And our customers are usually better informed from their own research. We now compete in a global market with the big USA-based warehouses. In most cases we match the price and we can ship it better with regular air and sea shipments out of the US and weekly out of Aussie.
With three shops, you must be one of the biggest players in the local parts industry.
Mmm, we still have a lot that we want to achieve, but we consider ourselves to be a significant player in the aftermarket performance and
restoration parts industry.
Do the shops tend to sell the same things, or are there different trends in all three areas?
In the most part we sell the same parts, with minor differences due to the type of motorsport in each area. For example, Hawke’s Bay has the dwarf cars and mod lites running at Meeanee, but we don’t see them at Te Marua or Palmerston North. All stores ship nationwide anyway, which tends to even things out.
What’s the next step in world domination of the parts business?
Well now that would be telling. I guess you’ll have to wait and see for that one, but we do have some more growth plans up our sleeve.
Like most guys who work in the scene, you’ve no doubt got a car or two yourself.
Yes, I’ve had a car or two over the years. Right now I have a ’56 Bel Air running a blown big block Chev ” tubbed and with a big SSS stereo; a 2002 Chev crew cab truck running a factory 8.1-litre petrol big block (tow vehicle); and I race a 410ci alloy 800hp sprint car at the speedway.
Why is it that everyone else has multiple toys, yet NZV8 struggles to own anything cool?
I reckon you need to stop into one of the Proparts stores and see how easy it is, with our help, for NZV8 or anyone to end up with a cool toy.
Do you think New Zealanders follow the American or Australian build trends more? Or do we just do our own thing?
Hey, it’s only my opinion, but I reckon the good ol’ Kiwi way of doing things is a trend all of it’s own.
What’s the best local event you’ve been to lately? And what made it stand out from the rest?
For me it would be the Palmy Swapmeet on the first Saturday in August, now held at Manfeild in Feilding by the Palmerston North Hot Rod Club. It’s a great venue with heaps of cars and parts (no household stuff), and a huge turnout of people from all over the country.
Thanks for your time Mark. Good luck with the world domination thing.