Quality and Experience Backed By Warranty

How the Starter and Alternator Business Works

     There are tens of thousands of starters and alternators on the market - on equipment, machines, and vehicles; on just about anything with a battery and a key switch - from golf carts, to farm equipment, to cars, to boats, to fire trucks, and hundreds of other applications. Manufacturers like GM, John Deere, Caterpillar, Polaris and hundreds of others hire highly educated and skilled engineers paid high wages, sometimes union wages with all the benefits to draw mechanical and electrical prints for every component of the machine or vehicle they are building, and models often change yearly. Parts with moving components such as starters and alternators are often tested by running them in their application at least for the amount of time they will be warranted. Every effort is made by them to insure the quality of the material, and manufacturing design is sufficient to get the item past its warranty period. There is a high cost associated with all this design and testing which the Manufacturer must retire and turn into a profit. Originally, almost everything was designed and built by our American workers. Over the past few decades as fierce competition forced manufacturers to lower cost, overseas factories primarily in China and India but also in many other countries, were subcontracted to manufacture the parts and employ a labor force in assembly plants to create complete starter and alternator assemblies. These Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s) purchase their assembled units, test them, and install them in their factories. Some of their investment is made later, when the part is out of warranty and goes bad, when it is time to replace the part, and they must charge a premium price.

The birth of the remanufacturing industry

      Over half a century ago, some entrepreneurs realized that when say an alternator stops working, it is not because every component failed simultaneously, but only certain parts failed. The frames might still be good, possibly the rotor and stator were still good, it may be that just the bearings wore out, or the brushes. So they found ways to buy bearings and brushes, test to determine what failed, replace the failed parts, clean all parts, reassemble them, test the unit, and then sell it for a vastly reduced price. Sometimes a major component would fail, possibly someone didn’t keep their battery charged, and used their alternator as a battery charger not a battery maintainer as they are designed, overworking it, and the copper wire in the stator windings failed. So stator rewinding was born, culminating in several aftermarket stator winders in the United States alone. Aftermarket sources for all products developed over the years. These companies didn’t need highly educated design engineers; they just needed to be able to copy what the OEM had done as best they could. They supplied rebuilders who, as the industry grew, created warehouses all across the country who supplied the hundreds of rebuilders that sprang up in most states until just about every town with over 10,000 people had a local rebuilder. Eventually, as the cost of labor increased in the USA, warehouses that supplied these rebuilders, who were now in great competition with each other, started buying their parts overseas, and then the largest ones started moving their rebuilding operations across our southern border. When you go to your local parts store and they sell you a rebuilt alternator, much of the time it is coming from a large rebuilder located in Mexico. We still have rebuilders in every state that have found certain market niches where they survive, generally requiring some specialized knowledge.

The coming of age of importing starters and alternators

As the years passed we started buying more cars and trucks and everything from Japan and Europ, and we needed to import their parts. They competed with GM, Ford, Chrysler, Freightliner and all the US companies, and eventually Chinese and Indian companies were contracted by all to use their lower cost labor force. Eventually China was first to make all these parts and assemble all these products, and thus compete with the rebuilders by selling a new product cheaper than their rebuilt products, because their labor is by far cheaper. They can reduce the quality of certain components, and make a fortune. The American market will ate it up because they wanted the cheapest product, and if that product happened to be new, fabulous, better than rebuilt! They contacted some of the warehouses that supplied the rebuilders, who thought that would work, and so it did.

How most of the warehouse suppliers reacted

The largest of the rebuilder/warehouse suppliers found that they couldn’t compete with any assembly or rebuilding of their own, it all had to be outsourced, they became warehouses without a mechanical ability or knowledge, and they lost that expertise. They bought, and they sold for many years. Most even lost the people who knew how to test what they received, their test market became the consumer, if it didn’t work, it wasn’t good. Meanwhile in China competition flared, they have area’s where labor is less expensive, and sometime 5 or 10 factories would spring up that made the same product, with various levels of expertise and quality. Owners of warehouses would travel to the factories and do their best to pick the one that had the best price or looked the cleanest or talked the best about their product. The market was flooded with all kinds of quality and price.

What we did

We kept a workforce of people with knowledge, people who could build components, and assemble, and test, and even kept engineers in our American factories and we also stationed knowledgeable people in China permanently. They grade the factories for us on multiple criteria. We study the product we import, and when necessary, teach the factories we have chosen how to make the product right, because next to the OEM’s, we have the highest level of expertise. We know why it works right when it does, and we teach how to make it work when they don’t know. For our customers with the most demanding needs who are willing to pay for our labor, we build new product right here in the States, for those seeking a lower price, we provide the highest quality new product available for import on the market, for those seeking a quality rebuilt product, we also rebuild. If you need a product not yet posted on our website, please email or call us.