Keeping Facilities Running Since 1980

Written by
The Part Works
Published on
September 12, 2019 2:49:00 PM PDT September 12, 2019 2:49:00 PM PDTth, September 12, 2019 2:49:00 PM PDT

At the intersection of specialty parts and facility maintenance, The Part Works takes a unique approach to keeping customer bathrooms, faucets, and facilities running across the Northwest. Founded in 1980, The Part Works was established as family business operating with a cohesive team of experts out of the garage of Rick and Sandy Johnson. Now, with a 16,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Seattle and on-the-ground sales representatives across Washington and Oregon, we continue to provide the technical advising, fair prices, and a culture of continuous improvement that customers have valued for the past 40 years. 

“In many ways, we’re doing the same work we’ve always done,” says President and CEO Katie Parris, daughter of Sandy and Rick, “We help customers maintain their buildings to a high standard.”

While our mission and close-knit family atmosphere have remained the same, the market and industries we serve have changed dramatically, necessitating innovative approaches to specialty parts and facility support on the part of our team. The Part Works has evolved to provide leading-edge technology to support growth and changes in the industries and facilities we serve.

Same Mission, New Vision 

In many ways, Katie Parris grew up at The Part Works, working alongside staff off and on through college. However, when she graduated, her parents encouraged her to gain experience elsewhere, so that she would have expertise to bring back to The Part Works in the future. “I still remember my Dad pulling me aside after graduation,” Katie recalls, “he told me that even if I had wanted to work at The Part Works, he wouldn’t hire me back until I had worked elsewhere. Leaving was essential to carrying on my parent’s legacy.” 

When Katie returned to The Part Works in 2006 with a wealth of experience in marketing and management, her parents were delighted. They worked side-by-side for several years, with Katie as the Vice President of Marketing and Information Systems, until they transitioned ownership in 2012. Today, as President and CEO of The Part Works, Katie brings a modern approach to the timeless need of solving plumbing problems. 

“When Katie and I first met to talk about The Part Works, I could tell that she was thinking about specialty parts in an entirely different way than competitors,” says Cylisa Brown, who joined The Part Works in 2016 during the leadership transition, seeking to be part of this new approach. “Instead of putting the focus on selling parts, she’s led innovation to establish a team of specialists that partner with facilities around the Northwest to maintain facilities even when they’re understaffed. Because of that, the team is able to fill critical gaps in the parts and facility maintenance system. Without The Part Works, there would be a lot of bathrooms in the Northwest with ‘out of service’ signs on them.”  

Under Katie’s leadership, we’ve reinvested the majority of profits over the past five years into improving systems and services to our customers, including upgrading to a cloud software system, integration of an online purchasing platform, Text-a-Tech services, and leadership development.  

“It would be very easy for a second generation family owner to treat it like a cake walk and pick up where their parents left off,” says Cylisa, “but for Katie, she made a strategic decision to bring us into the next generation of sales, to bring the right set of tools, training, and management so that customers get the things they need and get them quickly. She’s always pushing the boundaries to get the best price for our customers.” 

For Katie, there wasn’t much of a chance she would sit on her laurels when she took the helm. “I don’t sit still well,” she admits, “I’m always wanting to be building, growing, driving, creating.”

The Part Works proudly became certified as a Woman Owned Business by WBENC in 2014. And while some might consider being a female-led company in a male-dominated industry to be a challenge, we’ve found it to be a competitive advantage. “It’s a strength,” says Cylisa, “being female-led translates into being able to provide holistic support for our customers. Our team listens to our customers and keys in on the little details that help us find the right solution for their need. We stand out for taking an intentionally different approach.” 

Investing in People

Core to Katie’s leadership philosophy is a belief that each person has inherent value that they bring to the company. “My job is to set a vision and a focus and keep the whole company moving in that direction, and to bring in as many voices as possible to improve our company,” Katie says. 

The Part Works is invested in the development of expertise and leadership on our team, with continued education, coaching, cross-department conversations, and a catalog of product and leadership training opportunities. “It’s my primary goal to bring out the best in the people on our team,” says Katie. 

“Katie is accessible and open to ideas and thoughts,” says Larry Farley, who has been with The Part Works since 1996. “If you see a problem, she encourages you to get involved and to help solve it.”

With an open-door policy, Katie proactively seeks input from employees at all levels of the company. “If they can bring something to the table, she’s all ears,” says Cylisa, “No matter where the idea came from.” 

Responding to a Changing Industry

With the rise of online parts ordering, many procurement departments have begun to utilize companies like Granger and Amazon for parts ordering. Unfortunately, these sites lack the product expertise to ensure that the part ordered is the correct fit for their specific need. 

“We’re getting a lot more calls and texts from people who ordered an incompatible part online, sometimes multiple times, before realizing they needed someone with knowledge of the product they were trying to order,” shares Larry, “Especially with the shortages in facility maintenance staff, our clients are relying on our experts to help them get the right part the first time, to minimize downtime, and to save money.”

To meet the rising demand for online order, The Part Works offers:  

• An online store with the customer’s specified virtual stockroom to enable customers to find parts quickly at their fingertips. 

• Text-a-Tech service to help customers identify which part(s) they need for their installation through their mobile phone. 

• On-site consultations and stock management so that facilities always have the right part on hand when they need it. 

Try The Part Works Today!

With feet on the ground across Washington and Oregon, on-call and text-accessible experts to assist in finding the right solution for your needs, and a culture of continuous improvement, we’re proud to offer our support to your facility. 

"We like to put our Service where our mouth is,” says Cylisa. “Meaning, we are confident in our level of service and expertise. I dare you to have a great experience.” 

Call 1-800-336-8900 to talk with one of our expert sales reps about the services you need for your facility. Whether it’s managed inventory, parts identification, connecting purchasing departments with online tools, we’re here to support you with a range of valuable services and solutions. 

Visit our online store or text/chat with our experts today!