After three years of college, Tony Pasco began setting his sights on the automotive aftermarket and found employment at a local VW lube/oil independent shop. After a short stint there, he began working at a BMW dealership, and it’s there where his design for his own automotive aftermarket parts store began to take shape.
So by the “ripe” age of 23, with no financial backing and little experience, Pasco and a friend started Sebring West Automotive in Fresno, Calif. “We started working as a service department, specializing in VW, foreign and British cars on Jan. 4, 1971,” says Pasco.
With the import market in its infancy at the time, Pasco was banking his future success on becoming the only import parts repair specialist around.
“Once we got established, people flocked to our store because no one wanted to work on that stuff,” adds Pasco.
In 1973, they opened a small parts department next to the service area. The inventory was all foreign parts with a majority of the stock geared toward Pasco’s first love, the air-cooled Volkswagen engine.
In 1978, Pasco opened a 7,000-sq.-foot store, also located just off of Blackstone.
With two stores now, he added more employees and slowly began the process of changing from mechanic to full-time owner.
In 1985, Pasco aligned his store with CARQUEST and added American parts to his inventory. It gave him access to a local warehouse where his employees could buy parts, which increased overall parts sales and allowed Sebring to offer same-day service for hard-to-find parts.
By 1989, Sebring West had grown out of both of its locations and Pasco began looking for a permanent home. He found a former local Buick dealership right on Blackstone. They combined both stores under this 20,000-sq.-foot building, allowing four departments — wholesale, retail, service and a machine shop — to operate under one roof.
“Our retail department alone has over 100 years combined parts experience, while our wholesale department supplies local garages, government facilities, training centers and chain stores with quality parts at less-than-wholesale prices,” says Pasco.
Their service department has about 15 bays and eight technicians working full time on vehicles ranging from Audi to BMW, Chevy to Ford, Lexus to Mercedes.
“It’s our employees who have been responsible for much of our success,” he says. “Their long-term, dedicated relationship with Sebring has kept this business the leader in automotive parts and services for the last 34 years.”The Vital Stats
Years in business: 34 years
Growth plans: "We're planning to expand our product lines and our customer service offerings," says Owner Tony Pasco. "We want to get better, not necessarily bigger."
Number of employees: 45
Wholesale/retail ratio: 60/40
Snapshot of Sebring West Automotive: Starting out as a service department, specializing in VW, foreign and British cars on Jan. 4, 1971, they have grown to a 20,000-sq.-foot building.
Competition: Decker Auto Supply, a friendly but major competitor, and several large parts chains
Location/Facility size: One 20,000-sq.-foot facility in Fresno, Calif.