A Big Part of the Team's Success

November 30, 2020

"Penske Material" provides an inside look at some of the personalities, stories and moments that make Team Penske so unique.

The parts department at Team Penske is a pretty busy place to be. Whether team members are looking for a specific part to fit on a race car, a ream of paper or assistance to ship an important package, the parts department is there to fill the need. And the person in the center of all that activity is longtime team member Pat Hawley, Team Penske's parts manager.

The team's parts department functions with 10 employees, including Hawley. The department also helps manage shipping and receiving as well as inventory control for North America's premier racing organization.

"We have one gentleman who is primarily responsible for shipping and receiving and one is a parts runner that goes and picks up supplies as we need it," Hawley said. "We have two guys that primarily work the counter, very similar to if you go into Advance Auto Parts and you walk up to someone at the parts counter. I have three guys that primarily look at the reorder reports and cut purchase orders to buy product. Even though we're called the parts department we fall under purchasing, shipping, and receiving, and then basically inventory control."

When it comes to managing this busy one-stop shop at Team Penske, Hawley, well, fits the part. He grew up in Indiana and worked at an auto parts store when he was in high school. After graduation he became a mechanic at a Volkswagen dealership and then his career path led Hawley to motorsports.

"A couple of guys from the dealership went to work for a sports car team - Group 44 out of Winchester, Virginia," recalled Hawley. "They raced IMSA GTP Prototypes at the time. I got in there and went to work in Virginia."

In 1989, one of Hawley's teammates at Group 44 joined Team Penske and that connection opened the door for him to join the organization, first as a mechanic and then he found his way to the parts room. 

"I worked up north on the IndyCar team," said Hawley, referring to the team's longtime race shop in Reading, Penn. "I was a mechanic working on the cars. When they started to keep track of parts closer, they needed somebody to start tracking everything so I went into the parts room and started working there."

Hawley worked with Team Penske until 1998 when he left to start his own racing parts business. The venture didn't turn out as he planned so he returned to racing, joining Andy Petree Racing in Hendersonville, N.C., as a shock specialist. In 2001, Hawley had the opportunity to return to the team as he joined what was then Penske-Kranefuss Racing, and he remains a key part of the organization to this day.

Like every other walk of life in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a few unforeseen challenges to Hawley and the Team Penske parts department. To align with social distancing requirements, Team Penske currently divides its workforce into two six-hour shifts each day – one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Hawley said that the limited time inside the building each day is one of the biggest challenges of the pandemic for his department, along with trying to stay on top of the avalanche of emails he receives on a daily basis, somewhere between 150-175.

"When I come in during the afternoon, my first two to three hours is spent subbing in for my shipping and receiving guy," Hawley said. "He works the A shift (morning) so to cover the B shift (afternoon), I usually work for him in the back. And for me personally it's just hard to keep up with emails because that's the biggest way everybody is communicating now."

As part of COVID-19 protocols, Team Penske now has a policy where all packages received are held 24 hours before being processed.

"It's a little bit of an inconvenience for everyone but we've got it fairly well set up in the shipping department," said Hawley.

Inventory control is also unique at Team Penske because parts don't include bar codes where everything is scanned like the common practice in big retail stores.

"We use Microsoft Dynamics for our accounting and inventory software," Hawley said. "When a new car part comes out, we enter as much as we can and then we let the system work it's magic."

Hawley added that organization and advanced planning by the Team Penske teams makes everyone's job easier and keeps the parts process moving smoothly.

"There's always a last-minute need that comes up but for the most part everybody is pretty well organized," said Hawley. "That helps so we can plan a little bit ahead to make sure that the teams have everything they need."

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