Outgrowing the walls: The story of EVT Transmission Parts - Transmission Digest

Outgrowing the walls: The story of EVT Transmission Parts

There’s an interesting business, one of our industry’s success stories, located in the greater Los Angeles area city of Compton, CA. Walter Quintanilla is the owner of EVT Transmission Parts, which supplies a full line of parts and supplies to rebuilders in the area and beyond. The company began as a Los Angeles transmission shop owned by Vince Hall (See Transmission Digest, April 1993). In 1995, Hall decided to broaden the scope of his involvement in the industry by opening the distribution business in nearby Compton.

Walter Quintanilla worked as Hall’s general manager and purchased the business upon Hall’s retirement nearly 10 years ago, but the operation retains the same focus that has seen it grow substantially over its nearly 30 years of commerce.

Southern California is a bit different than most local markets. The high population means a lot of vehicles, and therefore, an abundance of transmission repair work. Parts distributors in this concentrated marketplace typically deliver parts to a surrounding area that is quite small by industry standards. Quintanilla has a fleet of two delivery trucks that serve a 15-mile radius on a twice-daily basis and a larger, 25-mile radius with a once-a-day run. Their business includes kits, clutch modules, converters, hard parts and all the other supplies and components required by builders.

Phone orders and walk-in counter sales are handled in the front area of EVT’s Compton, CA facility.

EVT has become known as a go-to supplier of transmission hard parts, not only for the L.A. area but to the entire North American market. Over the past 20 years, many of the suppliers that specialized in hard parts have closed their doors, creating an increased demand for the parts that Quintanilla stores in row after row of shelving. In fact, he says that he’s actively searching for a new building that will add at least half again the floor space of his current 20,000 square-foot facility.

“My shelves have already hit their limit of how much stuff they can hold. So I need to expand to hold the inventory,” Walter says.

Many of the cases and components harvested from core require additional machining. EVT has a well-appointed machine shop with plans for expanding those capabilities.

Shipping parts throughout the country means multiple GSO (Golden State Overnight) and UPS shipments every day. 

“GSO picks up at 5:30. And if we have anything else, we step outside. The UPS trucks are running here all day long and they’ll snatch it from us,” Quintanilla explains. “Our sales are about one-third delivery, 40% over the counter here and then 30% or so via shipments.” 

The high counter sales volume is enhanced by the bilingual nature of EVT’s staff. It is another rare marketplace characteristic of Southern California that the majority of builders are Hispanic.

The profitability of being a source for hard parts comes not so much in the selling as in the sourcing. It not only takes harvesting the components from cores, but from the knowledge of which parts are needed in inventory and which can be scrapped. It’s a combination of art and science that takes plenty of attention to detail. 

Two of the core teardown stations at EVT.

“Most of our hard parts come from cores, while the remainder come from guys who specialize in picking up from the core scrapping yards. They can pick up the little parts that we’re looking for; just that single part. As you know, every transmission usually has one or two parts that builders almost always need. Other units, like the 4L60, require us to get almost every hard part from the core,” Quintanilla reflects.

EVT’s Compton facility serves office space, inventory storage, shipping and receiving, converter remanufacturing and core cleaning and tear-down as well as a well-appointed machine shop. Quintanilla says that one of the reasons he’s looking for more space is the need to expand the machining operations. He says that in addition to resurfacing pumps and the usual parts procedures there is increasingly a need to work on cases and other wear points. 

“We’ll be machining CVT cases, CVT covers—anything that has a bearing is wearing out and so we have to round it off again and center it,” he says. “Another example would be Honda’s regulator housing, where the rings run through and tend to ring cut. It all adds up to needing a lot of machining capability.”

Quintanilla says his business, like many in the transmission aftermarket, was actually helped by the Covid-19 pandemic. Walter says that business was going along without a lot of growth until the pandemic hit. After that, he says, business more than doubled for EVT. 

“We’re maintaining those levels of business still today,” he says. “During that time, I was building inventory thinking demand would be a lot bigger. My team looked at me like I was crazy. But then, all the vendors were hunting for parts as the supply chain issues became more pronounced.”

After being recovered from cores, parts are cleaned, sorted and placed into inventory for shipment to shop customers, both local and across the country.

The Los Angeles area is known for long commutes and a lot of stop-and-go driving that takes a toll on transmissions. So much driving coupled with the prices for new vehicles creates a great demand for transmission repair. 

“You don’t spend $300 for a rebuild anymore,” Walter says, “nowadays you spend $1,000 or maybe more. The price of new cars and the price of housing is causing everybody to hold on to vehicles longer and that means repairing them instead of trading them in.” 

Looking forward, Quintanilla says that business looks to remain strong for EVT for the foreseeable future, with transmission repair in high demand and the need for every builder to have the hard parts needed to complete those repairs.

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