When you place your parts order from Moss, don’t you sometimes wonder just how we fill our warehouse with fabulous items no longer available anywhere else? Even Moss employees, hardened as we are to shelves stacked with parts that our British sports cars silently cry out for, scan the posted boat lists from time to time for no other reason than to see what spiffy new part is on its way into stock! Our Purchasing Department shoulders the heavy burden of creating the fine balance required to maintain a good supply of parts, while not overextending our financial resources. At the same time, it is the Purchasing Department sniffing like blood hounds and searching for the smell of oil, chrome, leather and steel, who track down elusive British sports car parts (one of which might be the only thing needed to keep your favorite car on the road for another 10 years)!
Our fully computerized purchasing system tracks our ordering requirements by analyzing past sales histories, coupled to future sales projections based on established seasonal trends. We also track the delivery performance of hundreds of vendors. In some cases the lead time is set for a particular vendor, while in other cases, separate lead times are established for each item a particular vendor supplies. In the case of most manufactured product lines, we track the total elapsed delivery time for each order and update our lead times on an ongoing basis.
99% of the time, new purchase orders are triggered, reviewed and created in time to ensure that new stock arrives before current stocks are exhausted. We buy only genuine original factory components, as long as they remain reliably available through factory sources. In some cases, we offer both genuine factory parts as well as aftermarket reproductions. We strongly support the factory effort in keeping genuine factory originals in production, but offer reproductions of excellent quality which are a good buy for those of us on a tight budget. A good example of this are our MOB steel fenders and chrome bumpers.
As with most businesses, 80% of our sales are made with only 20% of our products. As much as we would like to inventory a two-year supply of all the slower moving items (such as Austin-Healey gearbox layshafts), the cost of carrying this extra inventory becomes prohibitively expensive, and would prevent us from having the finances to reinvest in new product tooling or adding newly manufactured parts to our inventory. Generally, our standard policy is to always buy a minimum of one year’s supply of the slower moving items. Here in the U.S., we currently inventory 1,259 different items that have not sold in the past 12 months. In addition, we have 5,584 other products that were sold in quantities of less than 10 each. These product lines may not be profitable, but they have kept hundreds of British sports cars in operating condition. If you’ve ever experienced needing an essential item to get your car on the road that is just not available, then you know the incredible frustration it produces. Fortunately, with a company full of enthusiasts owning Triumphs, MGs and Healeys, there are a lot of people demanding that new parts be sought out or retooled! (Admittedly a very selfish attitude, but one that affects your part’s supply quite positively!) Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that a warehouse that is stocked with over two and a half million parts is missing some key ones!
While backorders do occur, our fill rate on orders is over 90%. Our biggest backorder problems stem from suppliers that advise us four or five months after orders are placed that the part has gone NLS (the heartrending abbreviation for “no longer supplied”). At that point, we may have very low stock or perhaps no stock at all. If you’ve ever been backordered on a new product or sale item, and you are understandably annoyed at the time, think of the Moss purchasing team’s reaction, which resembles a hospital’s “code blue.” We will make every effort to resource the product, and we frequently succeed in getting an NLS item back on line in two to three months. If an item is expected to be out of stock for a lengthier period (due to a manufacturer setback or to time needed to retool and reproduce), we will make the item NYA (not yet available), and if it’s a very important item, we’ll make it NWA (notify when available). When you call and order a part that becomes NWA, we fill out a card with your name and address along with the part number. When it arrives back in stock, we send out that card to you so that you may call and reorder if you’re still interested.)
Not only are we the world’s largest retailer of British sports car parts (a claim that seems to be bandied about by those who are not), we are also the largest wholesaler, selling frequently to our competitors. Where we get into trouble once in a while is when a wholesaler buys a quantity of items which may completely wipe out the number on hand which our computer calculated to be a three-year’s supply. That’s when we really have to scramble, and of course, that’s when you may wonder why such a part is available everywhere but Moss. This is sometimes the reason!
We have always actively bought bulk quantities of “obsolete” factory stocks, including the entire North American British Leyland inventory from both their east and west coast warehouses. This amounted to eight 40-loot containers, packed tightly with difficult-to-find parts for Triumph, MG and Austin-Healey. (We added thousands of part numbers to our inventory!) We still have large quantities of some items that fearless founder Al Moss bought 15 to 20 years ago, such as TC steering arms and 100-4 BN1 synchro hubs.
Moss Motors, both here and in England, inventories over 30,000 different products. Of these, over 5,000 are reproduced exclusively on our behalf. Our reproduction items are produced in one of three Moss-owned manufacturing facilities, or through independent manufacturers working on our behalf around the world. We do actively purchase and manufacture parts in England, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Taiwan, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, India, Argentina, Canada and, of course, the good old U.S.A. Like the enthusiasm for our sports cars, you can say our parts are truly international!
We have over 40,000 square feet between two warehouses in Goleta, CA, plus 8,000 square feet in New Jersey. Our biggest warehouse in the U.K. is over 20,000 square feet and is only one of six different locations. We do receive airfreight shipments from our U.K. facilities twice a month, plus at least one full ocean shipped container each month.
Our operating philosophy has always been to look at obsolete parts to see which ones need to be reproduced in order to keep our cars on the road, rather than simply selling that small percentage of parts that generate the most sales. While we are certainly the largest British sports car parts specialist in the business, we really need your support to justify the expense of reproducing obscure parts. In many cases, even a small production run can be a many year supply. As an example, we are responsible for the world’s only supply of MG TC rear axle ring and pinion gears. Even on a worldwide basis, we only produce these every five to seven years. Without this commitment, a lot of TCs (the car which started it all) would be non-drivable.
Although it’s easy to become frustrated when a part you desperately desire is not available, take a second to think on the bright side. If not for companies like Moss, run by fellow British sports car enthusiasts, it’s possible that even the very basic parts, from point sets through throw-out bearings, could be now obsolete. The 5,000-plus parts that we have reproduced from scratch will be just a drop in the bucket in another few years. Remember, it’s your support as both a lover of British sports cars and as a Moss customer that allows us to search for, to stock and to manufacture those items that fill our warehouse shelves. So, the next time you pick up your phone, your oily fingers dialing our 800 number in desperation, you’ll know just how that UPS red label emergency part got to you.