Hungering for truck-parts business, NAPA is mounting a bold push into the heavy-duty aftermarket. "Our heavy-duty business is up 38% from a year ago, and we expect to maintain it at a rate 25% over last year," reports Rick McDonald, general manager of NAPA heavy-duty sales. "A few years ago, we recognized we'd been successful in this market without really trying," he adds. "Now, we're capitalizing on what we already do."

McDonald relates that since January of '96, the distributor has more than doubled the number of stores it has qualified as truck-parts outlets, swelling their ranks from 200 to 550. Of a current total of 6,100 stores, he estimates that 2,500 might eventually qualify as heavy-duty stores.

According to Dennis Broome, NAPA's heavy-duty marketing manager, qualified stores can use the "NAPA Auto & Truck Parts" sign. To qualify, NAPA asks store owners to complete training on how to sell truck parts and agree to adjust their inventories to meet customer needs.

"The qualified stores provide added value to fleets," says Broome, "including fast access to parts, warranty coverage, and a nationwide network of distributors. By qualifying, stores learn that fleets expect parts to be delivered in an hour or less and that multiple daily parts deliveries may be required. "What's more," he adds, "NAPA can accomplish 24-hour delivery of parts not in stock at no added cost to the customer."

As it grows its heavy-duty presence, McDonald says NAPA will emphasize that "replacement parts -- not selling or repairing trucks -- is our business." He says the "real question" for fleets is "who will have the parts they need when they need them."