By: George White
Arnott Industries a Force in Auto Parts Aftermarket
Arnott Industries has expanded into a healthy portion of the former Sea Ray Boats manufacturing facility on Merritt Island, helping it with the niche market it’s created for new and used air-cushioned shock absorbers for high-end cars. Now three years into the plant with plans to expand into new buildings, the location has been a good fit.
“As a long-time manufacturing facility, the former Sea Ray plant has worked well for Arnott’s needs,” said Todd Nash, senior vice president of global marketing & sales. “After renovation, the distribution center and offices provided plenty of space for our growing needs. There is ample parking for employees and the location being near the port and major highways is ideal for our global logistics needs. The buildings offer air conditioning for our machine shop and new product assembly lines along with plenty of ventilated production space for our remanufacturing operation and materials warehousing.”
Getting the Word Out
Even though it might still be somewhat of a well-kept secret in Brevard County, Arnott has become well-known worldwide for its products and customer service.
“I think the word is getting out. We are a global brand so we don’t focus much of our marketing efforts on the local market. But we are well-known in the automotive aftermarket parts industry both here in Brevard and worldwide. When we walk into local parts stores or garages, they know us as a high-quality, affordable alternative to high-priced dealership air suspension parts. We have a parts pick-up counter here that stays amazingly busy serving local repair shops and distributors and we often have luxury car owners stop by looking for replacement parts,” he said.
Expansion to new areas of the Sea Ray plant include moving its engineers, research and development efforts and machine shop into a portion of a newly purchased and renovated 68,000-square-foot building adjacent to its current facility.
“While we have room to grow there, the move also provided extra capacity in our other buildings. So as we expand globally and support more domestic and international new applications, we will have plenty of space for growth,” Nash said.
“The business is good because the business model is a good one and demand for an increasing array of products appears strong,” said Doug Taylor, marketing director.
“It is an emerging niche. More and more vehicles (we call them applications) are adding air suspension for one reason or another. A lot of the luxury cars will have air suspension in them. There are some practical reasons but it’s mostly for comfort,” he continued.
Repairing & Refurbishing
A big portion of the business comes from existing parts that are refurbished at the plant, Taylor said.
“We get the cores in and clean them and test them, make sure the shock is still working, and then we rebuild it with new seals and o-rings. We don’t patch them anymore. We use completely new rubber. We sell a ton of those and with some of them, like an older Mercedes S-Class, we just made so many of them remanufactured that we had to make our own,” he said.
Arnott also personally checks how all parts are working by having a full stable of exotic company cars on-site at the Merritt Island plant. “We install, test, and drive them around to make sure things are working correctly. We also make videos and have a new video studio that we’re opening,” he said.
The majority of sales come through retailers and distributors that sell to mechanics, with about 5 percent sold to owners who do the work themselves. The products created and refurbished at the plant are evidence of the work completed by local workers, a pleasant surprise for Arnott in locating its operation in Brevard County.
“We have grown from around 50 to almost 200 employees in the past couple of years. This kind of growth was made possible thanks to our partnership with CareerSource Brevard (formerly Workforce Brevard). They helped us find and hire experienced production staff, engineers and customer care professionals. We are very pleased with the world-class quality of Brevard’s talented workforce and look forward to continued support from the community,” Nash said.