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General Parts Expands in Duluth

The Duluth location team
(with the help of an old friend)
By Gary Schermann, CFSP – President
General Parts Group’s growth strategy has long been one of steady, and consistent growth and that has served us well over the years. When 2020 came along it dealt with our company’s growth plans like most other companies in the foodservice equipment-related industries, a significant setback. However, when opportunity knocks – you answer. That knock was a chance to acquire Appliance Repair Service (ARS) based in the Duluth MN/Superior WI area. ARS, with its top-notch team, great culture, and solid customer base, was already well known and respected by GP.

Ken Witte and his family have spent the last 45 years building ARS into Duluth’s most respected and in-demand food equipment service company, a true family-built and run business. For many years, General Parts depended on Ken and his team to fulfill our sub-agent service needs in the Duluth area and when Ken was looking for ways to increase his value and offerings to his customers, he reached out to us as a growth partner, and we are glad he did.

General Parts acquired ARS in January 2021 with the intent to provide Ken and his team the needed support and resources to extend both the geographic coverage area and an expanded menu of maintenance, installation, and reactive repair services. However, while adding these resources we have been deliberately preserving the original family-oriented customer service style of the business. As we expected Ken and his entire staff have fit very well into the GP family and we have even added a couple of family members!

Since January we have been working with Ken and his team to integrate the Duluth operation into General Parts’ systems and procedures which we are happy to say is well on its way to completion. One of the final steps of integration has been to rebrand ARS under the General Parts Group name which happened on April 5th. You will be able to contact ARS on the same telephone number as always (218) 384-3331. There is however a new email address of duluthdispatch@gp-servicedirect.com

As you can imagine, the Duluth team has had a lot of visitors from GP to help train and facilitate the integration and I personally have stayed in close contact with Ken. Recently I asked him what the experience of joining GP had been like, and this is what he had to say.

“I’m not going to lie to you, it’s been quite a ride and an eye-opener as to how larger service companies work. I’m happy though that we made the move we did, ultimately it will be the best thing for our team here and for delivering great service to customers old and new.”

If you have questions or would like to know more about ARS joining the General Parts Group family, please feel free to reach out to either me, Gary Schermann, or Ken Witte.