STAR Group has new product warehouse in New Ulm

The NAPA Auto Parts store in Sleepy Eye is one of 11 that make up the STAR Group NAPA Auto Parts stores serving a broad area of southern Minnesota. The other stores are in New Ulm, Winthrop, Fairmont, St. James, Chaska, Glencoe, Gaylord, Jordan, New Prague, and Mankato. STAR Group NAPA Auto Parts is owned by Steve and Paula Windschitl of Sleepy Eye and Tony and Shannon Gulden of New Ulm.

Shawn Rykhus is Store Manager in Sleepy Eye and likes his work at NAPA. “STAR Group is a good company to work for,” he said. “And I enjoy working with the customers in the community.”

Joining Shawn at the Sleepy Eye store are Jordan Lund, counter sales; Sue Schewe, who works with inventory and bookkeeping; Bob Spencer, delivery person; and four part-time evening and weekend counter salespeople — Jim Schauman, Aaron Dittbenner, Nate Lang, and Clarence Newman.

STAR Group NAPA stores carry a wide variety of quality auto and truck parts. Farm and industrial parts, supplies, paint, tools, and equipment are also available.

The stores serve both repair shops and the general public, said Shawn. That was evident to this reporter, who watched Shawn take care of a steady stream of customers, while we visited about the store last week.

We had just started talking about the current filter sale, when in came a customer with a list of filters he wanted. Shawn said the filter sale, with very good prices, is on through the end of March. A selection of oils and other products are also on sale through the end of March.

“We thank our walk-in customers with our NAPA Rewards program,” said Shawn. “Every dollar spent is one point and when the customer gets to 100 points, they get $5 off their next purchase. There are no cards to keep track of, we just enter their phone number when ringing up the sale and our system keeps track of the points.”

Every quarter a new “NAPA Real Deals” sales booklet comes out, featuring a large selection of sale price tools. The Real Deals are for items on hand in the store, as well as for those that are ordered in for the customer.

Shawn said NAPA sells hydraulic hoses, made on-site to fit the customer’s needs for length and size of fittings.

NAPA has a variety of accessories for trailers, such lighting, wiring and connections, and hitches. “We also can get axles, trailer brakes, and suspension parts,” said Shawn.

The STAR Group NAPA stores are well stocked and also have good options for getting ordered items to the stores quickly. That might be as simple as finding the part in another close-by STAR Group store, or placing an order that will come on the regular parts trucks.

“I get two parts trucks a day,” said Shawn. “So the majority of the time, parts and tools we order for customers are here by the next morning.”

Last year STAR Group purchased and renovated a 20,000 square foot warehouse in New Ulm. Steve Windschitl said this allows them to store more product, purchase inventory at better prices, and more quickly and efficiently ship orders to their stores.

“Our goal is to have no part out in our stores for more than 24 hours,” Windschitl said. “We want to ensure our customers have the parts they need, when they need them. Our new warehouse helps us serve our customers efficiently with the parts, supplies and equipment they need.”

The Sleepy Eye NAPA Auto Parts store is open seven days a week to serve their customers. Store hours are: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.