Kanter Auto Products facility at 662 Myrtle Ave. in Boonton, NJ. Photos by James From, courtesy Kanter Auto Products.
Vintage parts giant Kanter Auto Products is in the process of consolidating its operations, as well as its massive inventory, in one of two buildings it owns in Boonton, New Jersey.
The herculean effort of moving a decades-old accumulation of used, NOS, and new parts was prompted by the sale of the smaller building—constructed in the 1870s as a silk mill—to a developer. The developer, Joe Gorga of The Real Housewives of New Jersey fame, is planning to convert the 47,598-square-foot structure at 76 Monroe Street into 62 residential rental apartments.
When the move is complete, Kanter Auto Parts will be based entirely in a circa-1913, 125,000-square-foot former hosiery mill building that owners Fred and Dan Kanter purchased in 1984. That facility, located at 662 Myrtle Avenue, had previously been used for shipping customer orders and for storing a portion of Kanter’s inventory.
“We’re in the process of moving—we’ve been working on it for the past 10 months,” said Kanter Auto Products Marketing Manager James From. “We’re hoping to finish it up in the first half of 2018. Right now we’re working between two buildings. We have sales and customer service in one building and shipping in the other. If we get housed under one roof we can get packages out more quickly, and orders will be handled more efficiently.”
The lions share of the inventory making the one-mile trip to 662 Myrtle Avenue consists of Kanter’s huge stash of Packard parts. From estimates that on the third floor of the four-story building alone there were in excess of 25,000-50,000 parts. The building was also home to about 200-250 engines, 100-150 body panels, and more.
Also moving from 76 Monroe Street is the 40-car Kanter antique- and classic-automobile collection. The cars will be placed in storage, but the plan is to build a permanent exhibit space for the vehicles at the new headquarters.
“Temporarily, they are going to be renting storage space and some will be moving to our restoration shop,” From said. “Fred’s dream/goal is to put up a building to house the collection of cars so people can take tours.”
Part of the moving process has included sorting through inventory and scrapping low-demand items or items in poor condition.
“The biggest thing has been the Packard Department trying to determine what to save and what to scrap,” From said. “Unfortunately when it comes to certain automotive items you’re only going to need so many. Anything of quality we’ve been moving into the other building.”
News of the parts disposal has rankled some enthusiasts in online forums, but Kanter insists that they’re junking only the items that have sat unsold for decades or are not in any condition to sell.
“We’ve had people getting up in arms because we’re throwing things out, but you need to understand the logistics of this stuff,” From said. “We’re not throwing stuff away to make our parts more rare—it’s just that these certain parts are not selling. You can only sell so many hubcaps for a certain year car. That was one of the things that some of the Packard forums got up in arms about—hubcaps. We saved those that were NOS as well as the best used ones.”
Today, Kanter is also reproducing components that has allowed the company to shrink the size of its stock.
“We’ve been working harder to reproduce a lot of stuff,” From said. “We’ve done about 25 new castings for water pumps so we’re eliminating core charges. Back 30-40 years ago we were relying a lot on NOS, so when a water pump became available we’d buy as many as we could to ensure that we had that part for our customers.”
In the end, From said, Kanter wants to streamline and improve the service its been offering customers since 1960.
“Fred and Dan have been looking to increase efficiency so that customers get their products quicker, communications is improved between departments, and so on.”