COVID-19 Update: We are still open, taking orders, and shipping parts.
This is a trying time for the entire world. Things are no different here at The Fiero Factory. As many know, I purchased the business from Ed Parks back in 2010. What most don’t know is why, and what happened after. Ed was ready to retire, and in our talks he expressed that he felt I was the only “hope” for the shop continuing on, and if we couldn’t reach an agreement for me to purchase it, he was likely to scrap it all. Despite the fact that I really didn’t have the financial backing to delve into a business with this much overhead, Ed worked extensively with me to help me purchase it and get started. That coupled with the fact that I personally couldn’t stand the thought of over 300 parts cars plus a warehouse full of parts being scrapped drove me to the decision to buy the shop. The economy went south in 2008-2009, and what that meant for me was that I was taking over a once self-sustaining business right at the time business was falling off on a monthly basis. My first year at the shop, I shouldered losses to the tune of $40K or more. I didn’t have $40K to lose, so the loss was covered by going into debt. I didn’t want to cut my losses and close up, so I, being an ASE certified tech since I was 18, decided to expand my services to include auto repair for all makes and models, and auto sales. My second year showed losses of only about $25K, so I was heading in the right direction. I got a lot of slack from the Fiero community for diversifying, and I quickly faded away from the public Fiero scene, mostly due to the fact that I was killing myself and running myself further and further in debt to keep The Fiero Factory from being a memory, and I honestly didn’t have the time or energy to deal with the negativity on top of everything else.
Over the past decade, I have built up my local repair business to the point that it nearly covers the overhead for the shop. I am still fighting to get myself out of debt incurred during the first 5 years. Early last year, I came to the conclusion that the Fiero side of things was a detriment to the more profitable auto repair side, and tried to work out what I was going to do. The care and feeding of 300 parts cars may seem trivial to those who haven’t dealt with more than 1 or 2 parts cars, but it is far from it. It is incredibly time consuming and expensive to pay for the 5 acres, clean up, mow, arrange and re-arrange when we have to move 30 cars to pull one part, keep things in guidelines so my insurance doesn’t go through the roof, keep forklifts maintained and running, cleanup and maintenance of a warehouse that was a mess when I acquired it and still is, strip the last few parts off of completely used up cars so they can be scrapped, the scrapping and discarding of broken and unusable parts, etc. Between that and the fact I had to do something to bolster my income so I could start digging myself out of the hole I was in, I started a concentrated effort to clean up the yard. This meant finding the worst of the worst donor cars, pulling whatever parts may have value, and hauling them one at a time to the scrap yard. We worked on it as we could over 6 months, and got the parts car inventory down to around 125 quality parts cars, instead of 300 rotting piles of junk. We still have the same selection of parts available we did before the “purge”, minus some frame cuts (no complete, good frames were scrapped). This also had the personal benefit of making my shop look a little more like a shop, and I saw an increase in local walk-in auto repair customers, which are honestly my biggest source of profitable income.
Late last year, I was making the difficult decision as to whether I should scrap the rest of the cars and parts and eliminate the Fiero business or not. This was the last thing I wanted to do, but I was sincerely at a crossroads where I wasn’t sure if either business was going to survive, and if I had to sacrifice the remaining Fieros to keep my auto repair shop open and my family fed and housed…I was going to have to do that. I considered many options, most of which involved borrowing more money and going further in debt. I did NOT want to do that. So, I contacted a long time friend of mine and fellow Fiero nut (who wishes to remain anonymous for now), and we started discussing options. I froze any further thinning of the herd, and began purchasing parts cars again as they became available to me. We started working out the details of what would become a transfer of the Fiero Factory portion of my business, how that could be handled and managed, etc. We were nearly done putting the finishing touches on things to re-launch The Fiero Factory under new, passionate ownership, ready to grow the business like I couldn't…and COVID-19 became a thing.
This brings us to today. I, along with the rest of the small and large businesses of the world, have experienced a MAJOR drop in business. I am at the point I’m not certain I can continue to pay my mortgage long enough to get through this. My new business partner had to incur a good bit of debt to purchase the business from me…and now he, too, is in a bind due to the drop in sales. He is as concerned as I, but both of us are out of resources. And, of course, if I get foreclosed on, relocating 125 Fiero parts cars and a 5000 square foot warehouse worth of parts is going to be an expense neither of us can bear.
Now, I am pretty stubborn, and they will have to pry my business away from me and I will have exhausted every resource I have and some I don’t by that point. The Fiero Factory and TFF Auto Center will NOT go down without me losing everything else in my life first. But I’d rather not have to get there. I have applied for the SBA disaster relief loan and the CARES act loan already, but there is no word as to how long that will take, and there is no guarantee funds will come at all. My mortgagee has made it clear he isn’t going to do anything to help me as far as deferring payments, likely because he has already worked with me over the years when I have fallen behind previously. My shop overhead isn’t very variable; closing the doors doesn’t change my expenses much. My biggest controllable expense is payroll, and I have unfortunately had to furlough my only full time employee already, to save money so the shop doesn’t close.
I am starting the process of cleaving the two businesses apart. I am doing everything I can to build up my local repair business, offering pickup and delivery service, “curbside” service, discounts and deferred payments for those affected by the current pandemic, etc. I am also answering phones and taking Fiero parts orders and getting them shipped out, though that process is slow, working on my own. I have had few wonderful Fiero customers call to make sure we are OK, etc. Unfortunately, parts sales is what brings in money for The Fiero Factory…and, understandably, no one wants to spend money on things they don’t have to have right now.
I have started a Go Fund Me page for The Fiero Factory. I am not one to ask for handouts, but if I can raise even a portion of my monthly expenses, that will help get us through this. On the other side, I am confident The Fiero Factory will live on better than it has been in years, with more online involvement, removal of the diversification everyone was upset by, going back to a “Fiero only” business. The new owner is ready to continue with our plans, but understandably needs to wait until all of this is over; this is the wrong time for many reasons. We have a future of a better pair of businesses, rather than one divided, struggling one. We just have to outlive the shutdowns and quarantines! Are you willing to help us do that? If I raise at least $500, there is a small business fund that will match that with a $500 grant…so a little bit could go a long way. Thank you all so much, and I know we aren’t the only ones affected here, so best wishes to all of you! Stay safe.
Our old website was out of date and riddled with issues.
This one is basic and generic, but works.
We are still here, still selling cars and parts, and still specializing in Fieros!
Please give us a call at 256-420-5391 for all your Pontiac Fiero parts needs, or send us a request through our site.
We have been specializing in Pontiac Fieros since the early 1990's. With hundreds of Fiero parts cars on hand and decades of Fiero repairs by our staff of specialists, we know the Fiero inside and out.
We pull, package, and ship used Fiero parts worldwide! Wherever you are located, give us a call and we can get the parts you need headed your way!
It's easier to cover what we don't have, when it comes to Fiero parts. Fastback taillights are not available. Mint condition interior parts are few and far between. Otherwise, if it is a Fiero part, we should have at least one.