Other Articles - December - 2020

Keeping an Icon Alive

For many of us who’ve been in the transmission industry, perhaps longer than we’d like to admit, Slauson Transmission Parts has been with us for our entire careers. Slauson was founded 64 years ago in 1956 in California. Come to think about it, that’s one year before I was born and many years before Slauson’s current owner, Gino Bozzi, was born.

Gino is one of those apples that didn’t fall far from the tree. We need to look back on Gino’s life and career to appreciate how his ultimate acquisition of Slauson Transmission Parts fits in. Gino’s dad, John Bozzi, came here from Italy to pursue the American dream. He worked hard and, in 1965, started his own transmission shop, Trans-O-Matic, in the northwest area of Chicago. During the years I spent in Chicago doing seminars for ATRA and other companies, I really got to know John. I even gave him my personal cell number so he wouldn’t hotline. I always planned to spend an extra day or two in Chicago just to hang with him and his son Gino. He was one of a kind, a dinosaur of the industry – the last of a dying breed. Even in his later years, with his health in decline, he would still be at the shop every day because he just loved the transmission business.Unfortunately, John passed away before he could finish building his second shop in Des Plaines, Illinois. It was a major project and a vision to behold. By raising the roof 20 feet and installing drive on lifts, they’d be able to handle buses and other heavy-duty vehicles. Gino picked up right where his dad left off and finished the project. I wrote an article about the entire project in the April 2017 issue of GEARS.

Now, let’s take a look at the history of Slauson Transmission Parts. The company was founded in 1956 by Harvey Wilson as Wilson Core Supply. In the early 1960s, it became Slauson Transmission Parts, specializing in used and rebuilt hard parts. After incorporating in 1980, by 1984, Slauson had outgrown its Los Angeles warehouse and relocated into a facility in Rialto, California.

In 1990, the company introduced the, now famous, Slauson Transmission Parts catalog. It was more than a catalog. With exploded views of transmissions, it made parts identification a snap. It quickly became an industry standard for transmission shops nationwide. But Slauson didn’t stop there.

They took parts identification to new levels beginning in 1996 when the company introduced its state-of-the-art parts identification system, SmartPart™. In that same year, always on the leading edge, Slauson also launched their online electronic catalog and web presence at www.slauson.com.

Slauson was the first transmission parts company to embrace internet technologies as a method of marketing, identifying, and cataloging transmission parts. After adding a complete line of soft parts in 1998, by September of 2000, Slauson introduced its new Digital Catalog on CD. This enables users to quickly locate and price products offline and online. At that time, Slauson maintained an inventory of over 40,000 parts in its 35,000 square foot facility. Having outgrown that Los Angeles warehouse, they added a satellite warehouse in nearby Gardena, CA.

In September of 2017 the company went out of business. This could have been a quiet ending for an industry icon. But thanks to Gino Bozzi, the legacy lives on.

Early in 2018, Gino purchased Slauson and moved it to its current facility in Chicago. This was a project I wouldn’t wish onto anyone. The enormity of the move is almost unimaginable, but it was completed.

After over 60 years in the transmission parts aftermarket, Slauson is still going strong and working on releasing its latest updated print catalog and an upgraded online SmartPart™ identification and ordering system. Gino Bozzi wanted to keep another dinosaur going; he couldn’t just let it fade away like so many other icons in our industry. He even kept the same phone number to make it easier for everyone who’d dealt with the company throughout their careers.

Keeping with the dinosaur theme, Gino even asked me to come out of retirement to write this article. Feeling like a part of the Bozzi family, how could I say no. So, now I have an official title, semi-retired Technical Advisor, working with Gino and Justin Carlisle at Slauson.

The Slauson catalog books 1&2 were considered the transmission bible. Slauson will continue updating its catalog for 2021 as well as featuring a series of technical bulletins every month on its website. Slauson’s focus is on supplying parts and information for the most current units as soon as they hit the market. This will help transmission builders stay ahead of the game and ready for when they arrive in your shop. The latest demand for parts has been for the Nissan Jatco CVT trans-axles, which keeps the Slauson crew very busy. Gee, I wonder why Gino asked me to be Slauson’s technical advisor – Jatco CVT transmissions, hmmm.

When the apple named Gino Bozzi fell from the tree, it didn’t even roll. John Bozzi would be proud of his son, and I’m sure he’s looking down on Gino with a smile because of what his son has become for the industry John loved so much.

I was glad to come out from retirement to write this article for Gino because I believe in him and what he’s doing. He is an excellent example for our industry – always looking for ways to improve while keeping an icon alive and well. I’m still retired but always available to help Gino achieve his goals. Thanks to Gino, Slauson will continue to be a well-known icon in our industry.

On a personal note, working with Gino always brings back great memories of his dad John Bozzi, and that puts a smile on my face. If it’s before it gets too cold, I don’t mind going to Chicago to see Gino and other friends and enjoy some of the best Italian food you can find in the country. Our friend Pete Pavone, who’s owned and operated Villa Napoli Pizzeria & Restaurant at the same location for 36 years, is one of our favorites. You can’t imagine how incredible the food is at this restaurant – I’m just saying. It’s not just the food. Going to “Pete’s Place” brings me back to the way things were in the old days. Just hanging out with buddies and enjoying a good cigar.

I especially want to thank Dennis Madden of ATRA for allowing me to write this article.