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Erie Vo-Vo Sets the Pace for Late Model Volvo Salvage

The Locator Magazine

Felicia Lowenstein Niven - November 2006

Erie Vo-Vo, Inc., Whitesboro, N.Y. - Its parts are authentic Volvo, but that doesn’t mean that Erie Vo-Vo can adopt the corporate name.

"We can’t use Volvo because we’re not affiliated with them," explained Jack Johnson, general manager of the Whitesboro, New York-based company. "But of course we’re exclusively Volvo. We understand Volvos. We know what goes wrong with them. We’re not guessing. We’re selling the parts our customer needs. We stock over 75,000 tested used Volvo parts, and we keep over 700 Volvo vehicles on site for parts. We are your Volvo parts source."

Becoming A Specialist
Erie Vo-Vo didn’t always handle Volvos. The business, started in 1971 by owner Franklin Stooks, originally focused on foreign cars.

"We were one of the first people in the state, and possibly the United States, doing all foreign cars," said Johnson. This continued until 1997, when Franklin Stooks’ son Eric helped convert the company into a Volvo parts specialist.

Jack Johnson joined the company just before that change and has been on staff for nine years. Mark Kuchera, Frank’s son-in-law, took over the business after Frank died in 1997.

"I liked it so much," said Johnson. "I fell in love with the company and the industry. It’s part of me. I can’t picture myself doing anything else."

By the year 2000, there were three employees - Kuchera, a yard person and Johnson. Today, that staff has expanded to a dozen employees.

Described by Johnson as a fast-paced business, the typical workday starts at 8 a.m. and lasts until 5 p.m., but the UPS trucks don’t leave until 5:30. "We try to fit everything in and take orders up until the last minute," Johnson said. "This way our customers can have [the part] in their hands the next day."

Rising To The Next Level
"When we first started this, I could count a handful of businesses that did Volvos only," said Johnson. "Most couldn’t survive, but we were able to stay in business and take [the company] to the next level."

Perhaps the most important element of Erie Vo-Vo’s success is its quality.

"One of the things that separates us from others is that we do one thing and we do it very well," Johnson explained. "We buy only late-model and low-mileage vehicles. We try to make our parts look as new as possible. A lot of people mistake them for new or reconditioned. That’s how much care we put into our product."

The management is so confident about the quality of the parts Erie Vo-Vo sells that it offers lifetime replacement on all of them at no additional cost. Major parts - including engines and transmissions - also come with a one-year labor warranty.

Erie Vo-Vo doesn’t market to a specific geographic region of the country but it does target Volvo dealerships. Its customers are primarily wholesale but it often gets referrals from dealers to Volvo owners and vice versa.

To get the word out, Erie Vo-Vo has been successful with this type of ‘word of mouth.’ It also has used flyers to publicize the company and has even posted a few parts on eBay. To date, the web site has been mostly informational but soon customers will be able to buy online as well.

The company delivers but not via its own delivery vehicles, which were sold back in 1997. Now a combination of UPS and freight is used to deliver worldwide. Importantly, parts are packed in custom boxes which are specially made for Volvo parts.

"We make sure it gets there in one piece, the most cost-effective way," said Johnson. The shipping cost is included in the price quoted to Erie Vo-Vo’s customers.

As for the future goals, Johnson shared the company philosophy. "We’re looking to do what we do best and do it better. That’s our biggest goal. We’re great now, but we want to be excellent."