Scott Slama, a valued employee in the NAPA system for the past 10 years is the 2021 NAPA/ASE Parts Specialist of the Year and the 22nd individual to receive this honor. Scott is manager in Brooklyn, Ohio, at the Chagrin Valley Auto Parts Company owned by Pete Sugarman.
His experience in the automotive field began in 1985 as a high school student when he took a job as a part-time counter person. “I’ve always been into cars, but I wasn’t thinking of a career at the time. I just needed a job and I was able to get one at a parts store,” Scott explained.
“I was fortunate to move up pretty quickly so I decided to stay. Within four years I was offered the store manager position.”
And the rest, as they say, is history. Scott adapted to several ownership and brand changes over the years, joining the NAPA family in 2010.
A Never-Say-No Attitude
Scott came on board as an assistant manager with Chagrin Valley Auto Parts, a 10-store NAPA group in northeast Ohio. He was promoted to store manager of the Brooklyn location in 2011. Scott continues to thrive in his management position and is driven by providing outstanding customer service.
“As the competition in the parts business has gotten more competitive, the key to success is building a relationship with your customers. You have to give them a reason to shop with you. I never say no,” said Scott.
For example, several of his customers are limited by cumbersome purchasing requirements that make it difficult to buy items from places where they don’t have an established account. Scott said, “I’ll get customers whatever they need. I’ve bought office supplies and even a lawnmower for customers. I mark up the purchase and charge it to their account,” said Scott. “The customer finds the mark-up is worth it to avoid the hassle they’d have otherwise.
“I never want to give a customer a reason to call anywhere else for what they need. I know we’re in the car business, but the way I look at it, we’re really in the service business.”
With that never-say-no attitude, Scott is well respected and trusted by his customers. A number of years ago, Scott spent a short time as interim outside salesperson until a permanent person could be hired. When the time came for Scott to go back to the store, there were a number of accounts that didn’t want anyone else but Scott to call on them. That’s why he still does outside sales one day a week, calling on key customers.
A Believer in ASE Certification and Training
Scott is a true believer in the importance of maintaining his ASE certification. He is P1 & P2 certified, keeping his skills sharp in the areas of automobile parts as well as medium/heavy truck parts. He said, “I’ve been ASE certified for what seems like forever. I added heavy duty ASE certification because I was calling on heavy duty shops and I wanted to be knowledgeable when I talked to them.”
Scott keeps his credentials current and drives his employees to be their best by challenging them to continuously take part in training. He is also a big advocate of training for his customers.
“There’s no doubt about it—training is critical. NAPA’s Autotech is outstanding and that gives NAPA a big advantage over the competition. Not only is our Autotech trainer excellent, businesses can send everyone in their shop to six classes for just one fee,” he remarked.
Scott stresses the importance of training for his business customers so they can grow their business, become more efficient, and keep pace with the changes in automotive systems and technology. He even attends the technical training himself knowing it will help him serve his customers even better.
“Going to the training with my business customers also gives me an opportunity to interact with them outside of the work environment,” said Scott. “It helps build those relationships.”
A Parts Professional and a People Person
When asked what about being a NAPA parts professional is the best part of the job, Scott answered, “Honestly, the best part is the people. I have a good staff around me. They help make the day fun and I’m also blessed to have good customers. I’ve made some good friends. As I’ve said before, it’s all about relationships.
“In addition to that, every day is different. I’m challenged with something new every day. And it’s always the goal to see how high we can get our numbers here.”
Known affectionately as a gearhead, Scott enjoys restoring Mustangs and he’s a regular at the Brunswick Laurel Square car show. He said it’s a fun atmosphere and gives him a chance to catch up with many of the loyal customers he’s supported over the years.
When Scott is not working, he enjoys spending time with his family—his wife, Anne and their boys, Scottie and Will. Both Scott and Anne are passionate about adopting rescue dogs. Shelby and Zoey were adopted from City Dogs where the couple volunteers. They are also active with the annual Kidney Foundation of Ohio’s Harvest Walk & 5K event.
Scott exemplifies what it means to be a true parts professional. He is most deserving of this honor and the first presented in 1999. Congratulations to Scott Slama, the 2021 NAPA/ASE Parts Specialist of the Year!
More than 90 years ago, the National Automotive Parts Association ("NAPA") was created to meet America’s growing need for an effective auto parts distribution system. Today, 91% of do-it-yourself customers recognize the NAPA brand name. We have over 6,000 NAPA AUTO PARTS Stores nationwide serving all 50 states with a unique inventory control system that helps you find the exact part that you need.