I am often asked how we have been able to grow so significantly and consistently over such an extended period. Many factors drive this level of performance of course, including technology, integrated marketing, customer experience, and macro trends in our industry. However, there is one key driver of our enduring success that stands out well above all others – our culture.
Driving business growth through a strong culture
Parts Town’s culture is what attracts great people to our organization. Our culture is what drives our extraordinary growth and success. Our culture is what allows us to innovate again and again. In short, at Parts Town, culture equals growth.
I benefited from joining the organization when it was very small. We were able to design our desired culture very intentionally. Early on, our team worked together to document a set of core values that would guide our behaviors. We started with 4 core values, and, over the years, this evolved to become our current six core values – safety, integrity, community, passion, courage, and innovation. Our values have always been the foundation of who we are at Parts Town. They are ever-present and brought to life in so many ways. Our core values guide our hiring, performance evaluations, promotions, and recognition programs. They also set the course for how we will treat each other, our customers, and our manufacturer partners.
It is our belief that talented people that demonstrate our values create a great culture. A great culture serves to attract, retain, and inspire great people. And an inspired group of great people will find ways to delight customers, innovate, and grow. Sometimes people from outside the company look at Parts Town and think that our growth is driven by our technology or our marketing or our inventory availability or our delivery speed. That’s part of the story and each of these customer benefits matter. But the true source of our sustained growth is the culture that underlies all of this.
Our culture shows us the way even during times of uncertainty
Over the past 18 years, we have grown the business to over $1 billion in annual revenue and 3,500 team members. Our growth has been largely organic, though we have completed over 20 acquisitions along the way. With the onset of the COVID pandemic, our growth slowed in early 2020, Prior to March of 2020, we had strung together 194 consecutive months of year-over-year growth and 15 consecutive years of greater than 20% organic growth. We found ourselves in a challenging situation. A lot happened in a short period of time. Restaurants and other commercial kitchens shut down, health and safety became bigger challenges than ever before, and there was massive uncertainty in businesses and in life. I believe the culture of a company is more important than ever during challenging, uncertain times. We were fortunate to have a set of core values that we could rely on to show us the way.
We had to find ways to keep team members safe and provide an uninterrupted experience for our customers. Leaning on our innovative culture, team members and leaders across the business came up with creative solutions in this once-in-a-lifetime situation. It was natural for us to put safety first in everything we would do, since safety is our #1 core value. Every step of the way, we worked to emphasize safety, because if we don’t keep our people safe, nothing else matters. This led to rapid implementation of safety measures across the business that resulted in stability of our team and the customer experience and we are proud of our team who demonstrated true innovation to create and implement these solutions during the pandemic.
Our other values contributed as well and have no doubt helped drive the recovery of the business and position us to strengthen the company during a challenging time. Our “integrity” core value demanded that we be open and honest with our team throughout. “Passion” has kept us going even through massive supply chain and inflationary challenges. “Courage” told us to be willing invest in key initiatives even during the most challenging of times. “Innovation” inspired us to leverage technology in new ways to support our team members and our partners. When faced with challenging situations and tough decisions to make, I often ask myself, “what do the values say we should do?” The answers can usually be found there.
Culture is key for every organization
Building and maintaining a strong culture should be part of every organization. Start with defining your values-it will tell you what you stand for. Then use that to form your culture to provide the guidance of how you work as a team and outside of your organization.
About Steve Snower
Steve joined Parts Town in 2004, which at the time, had five employees and $3 million annual revenue. Under Steve’s leadership, Parts Town has achieved compound annual organic growth of 30% over the 17-year period ending 2021. With 23 acquisitions since 2015, Parts Town, the global leader in foodservice equipment parts distribution, is now over $1.5 Billion annual revenue with more than 3,500 team members.
Prior to Parts Town, Steve spent ten years with Newark Electronics, a global leader in electronic component distribution, and held several leadership roles.
Steve has an MBA from Kellogg/Northwestern and a Bachelor’s in Finance from Miami University in Ohio. Personally, Steve most enjoys spending time with his family, which includes wife Jocelyn and 4 children ranging in age from 17 to 23. Steve and Jocelyn have also fostered seven children and lead a not-for-profit program with a mission to enable children with special needs to participate in sports. An enthusiastic athlete himself, Steve has completed four Ironman distance triathlons and several marathons.