Meet Kaylee Felio
Sales and Marketing Director of Parts Edge
Growing up, my dad was a carpenter and worked in construction, and my mom would occasionally work jobs to supplement our income. At one point she helped my grandpa run his garage door company, but she mostly managed the home and was always there for us. I remember calling out sick from school sometimes because I wanted to hang out with her at home.
In 2008, the recession impacted my family, along with so many others, quite severely. My dad lost his job and it seemed like no one was hiring. But other things were going on that we didn’t realize then. My dad had become addicted to painkillers after injuring his back on the job years prior. He was still working, but then the crash happened, and everything fell apart.
We lost our home and our vehicles. It was a really tough time for us. Luckily I had already started working. My older brother was my role model. He started working at 15 and had his own car by 16. I wanted to be like him, independent.
A friend of mine was working at Subway, she got me an interview, and I got the job. I didn’t have a car yet, and I was so fortunate that my parents would often drive me to and from work. I had always loved Subway as a kid, so it was a perfect fit for me.
I remember working a lot, especially at night. I was in high school at the time and took a work experience class. We had to log our work experience hours for credit, and I remember that mine had to be under-reported due to my age. I was around 16 then; so much had happened in such a short time.
“I remember seeing people in suits and thinking: I want that. I want to have a career.”
The owner of the Subway store approached me and asked me if I would like to manage the new Subway store she was opening up the road. She was building the store from the ground up, launching a new franchise business; it was an excellent opportunity for me. Also, the store shared a parking lot with PartsEdge. It actually still does.
I always wanted to work, but I never really dreamed of going to college in a traditional sense, and after everything that happened, I really didn’t want to take on that kind of debt. That said, working in a leadership position at such a young age, I was still in my late teens at the time, and interacting with customers taught me so much. I knew that I wanted to develop and grow into a career.
I had settled in well and was really enjoying the responsibility when two of our regulars came into the Store and spoke to me about a vacancy they had at their business across the lot, PartsEdge. I didn’t know anything about automotive or parts at the time, but something felt right about it. I knew it was an opportunity that I needed to take.
I started out in a client support role. I had always been interested in the sales function of the Business, but there was yet to be a vacancy. I spent some time with PartsEdge and loved the company, but the longer I worked, the more I realized I needed to be in sales. So I decided to pursue a new opportunity that would push me and allow me to pursue my goals of building a career in sales; I got my Real Estate license.
“I had my license for about a year, sold a few houses, and realized that this just wasn’t for me. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t fit in.”
It was around that time that I heard that there was a vacancy for a salesperson at PartsEdge and so I contacted them.
I had always known that we could have done more, and I had big ideas and goals that I believed could really impact the company; they were giving me the opportunity to implement them.
“It was tempting to do everything, but I realized that I couldn’t do it alone, and we needed help.”
The first task was to update our brand and website. It wasn’t delivering the message we wanted to convey. Initially, I was unsure what to do and needed to figure things out. I was new to marketing but it felt natural. I spoke with clients, got testimonials, had conversations with my bosses, and understood our brand’s purpose. I had also met someone through the real estate business who specialized in marketing and was starting her company. We hired her to help us update our website and assist us with strategically aligning the company.
After talking to many parts managers, I realized that they needed more resources, and by providing them, we could increase awareness and interest in our company. We worked on marketing campaigns and connecting with customers, which required constant attention and focus. LinkedIn was an excellent platform to showcase our brand and connect with others in the industry. The more we engaged our customers, the more it became evident that pushing our technology, alongside our technical understanding of their needs, could greatly serve our customers and our industry. Parts managers deal with a lot of data and can significantly benefit from advanced technology and focused strategies. It’s incredible how much impact this can have on the success of a parts department.
“Parts need the same attention and care as used cars.”
Some parts managers manage around 20,000+ parts in their database, and if dealers treat them as they treat their used car department, they would see better results. The goal is to give them the tools to figure out what they need to deliver a better customer experience. Utilizing data and market demand, we are helping our customers figure out when they need parts and, overall, improving the department’s efficiency. There is a huge need for technology to effectively manage and support the parts department, we provide that alongside a deep technical understanding of their department’s challenges and the opportunities that come with it.
I set goals last year that I initially thought were unattainable. I wrote them down anyway. Surprisingly, not only did I achieve my goals, but I even exceeded them, which feels amazing.
I want to continue growing, I am setting even bigger goals. More dealers are starting to understand our products and services and how it can impact their business. I strongly believe in the value of what we offer, and it’s rewarding to see the excitement of parts managers who have been in the industry for many years, who have so much experience, who are successful at what they do, ask me, “where has this been all my career?” Our idea is not new, no one else on the market does what we do and our marketing and sales strategy is giving it the light it deserves.
Personally, I am recognising that it’s okay to desire more, to want to grow and to not feel guilty about what I am achieving. I never thought I would be able to be a mom and have a career. I am so appreciative of everything around me but I am learning that it is ok to continue to strive. I am learning to believe in myself, to accept the success and to appreciate what I have. I will of course continue to host my podcast, The Parts Girl Podcast. I look forward to the people I am yet to meet, to interview them, to learn about them.
Seeing their joy in sharing their experiences and learning from them is very fulfilling.