“After 42 years, SG’s Ann Arbor store is moving to a new location. We are now located at: 3350 W. Liberty,” announces the website of the little auto parts store that specializes in imported car parts that used to be next to Baskin Robbins on W. Stadium.
DIY mechanics might recognize 3350 W. Liberty as the address for Viking Auto Parts, which no longer exists. And neither does another fifty-year-old local auto parts store: Boyer Auto Supply. “But if you call the number of all three–Boyer, Viking, or S and G, it will ring here,” says Bruce Bertram, who has worked at Viking for years.
Bertram’s boss, Bill Hueter, started Viking in 1978, and Hueter explains how the consolidation came about. “First, you have to go back to the mid- to early Seventies, when Mr. Gold and Mr. Smith started S and G.” About four or five years ago, he says, they sold the company to Auto-Wares Inc., a parts distributor in Grand Rapids–“at that point it was an eight-store chain.” Early in 2014, “Auto-Wares bought Viking Auto Parts. In the middle of October it bought Boyer and combined all three businesses.”
Boyer was owned by Brett Boland and Tony Gay, who were ready to retire. The employees of the other two stores are now working out of the newly enlarged parts store at the former Viking address, called S-G Parts of Ann Arbor. There’s no signage up yet, but Hueter says there will be soon.
“We built a second floor of racks for parts,” Bertram notes, adding, with metric precision, “We now have 3.4 times as many shelves as we did before the acquisition.”
What drove the combination? “It’s increasingly hard to run an independent auto parts business,” Hueter says. “It’s now basically a commodity business.” With the merger “we have 20,000 parts on hand, and we have trucks running all night long, with warehouses in Gaylord, Madison, Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Chicago.”
Did the buyout make him a rich man? “You’re actually asking that to me as I’m working behind the counter?” says Hueter, who says his new title is “store manager.”
S-G Parts of Ann Arbor, 3350 W. Liberty, 662-6121. Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Closed Sun.