We’re pretty sure that most of you have parts from our sponsor Corvette Central somewhere on your Corvette. Recently we had the opportunity to stop in at their sprawling 70,000+ square foot facility in Sawyer, Michigan for a behind the scenes look at all the action that takes place there.
Corvette Central’s genesis can be traced back to the early 1970’s when owner Jerry Kohn noticed a lack of available, high quality reproduction parts on the market. As a tool and die maker, he had the opportunity to create his own parts. The first items he developed were grill teeth for C1 Corvettes. After offering them at a show in 1974, the demand took off and eventually morphed into the parts mega-supplier we know today. Together with his son Scott, they now have 80 employees and a clean, modern facility that processes an average of about 500 customer orders per day. Jerry still keeps his office outback in the manufacturing area close to all of the action.
Our tour began in the Shipping and Receiving area. From there we travelled through Returns, Manufacturing, Research & Development, and other areas of the facility before wrapping up in the administrative offices.
Corvette Central’s reach can be seen on a map on the wall just outside the main lobby. Multi-colored pushpins mark each of the countries they’ve shipped parts to. Popular destinations include Europe, Australia, and even parts of Asia. Adjacent to the customer map is another board fitted with past catalog covers that trace the path of the company’s evolution.
The warehouse itself is a clean, well-organized corn maze of storage racks holding nearly all of their 45,000 items. If you can’t find what you need in the catalog, give them a call anyway and they may be able to locate the part you’re looking for at their offsite boneyard of donor cars. Other “take off” parts are kept to either be sold or used for comparison to their in-house made parts. Check out the stash of used stock Corvette exhausts they’ve got in our photo gallery below.
Smaller parts not stored on the miles of racks can be found on 1 of 6 moving conveyors. As an order is processed, the conveyors spin to the correct location so the waiting operators can simply remove the needed item from stock and fulfill your order.
As you’d expect, the machine shop area contains every tool or machine you can imagine. They have everything from mills and lathes to presses and original equipment from Delco. Corvette Central can even produce their own tooling dies and then cast parts in-house using those dies. Secondary processes like paint and chrome are done at outside locations. Original or known-good parts are stored neatly throughout the shop so they can be used for comparison to the newly minted items.
New, incoming, or returned parts can be evaluated in the adjacent R & D department. In addition, the CC team holds a weekly product meeting to discuss customer feedback and any other potential quality issues. Any problems found are resolved as quickly as possible before getting out of hand.
Nearby, Corvette exhaust systems sit in various stages of assembly. They enter the facility as straight pipe, get bent into various shapes, and then attached to mufflers such as their popular C4 no-drone units.
Thanks to the owners Jerry and Scott Kohn and Marketing Manager Matt Gessler for their time during our visit. After checking out the photos in our gallery below, be sure to head over to Corvette Central’s website and order up everything you need for your ride.
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