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Roman Kagan has built a successful niche business selling hard-to-find appliance parts to do-it-yourself types around the country. The site, was launched in 1999 featuring about 300 products and in seven years has grown to showcase more than 1 million parts for 170,000 appliance models. Along the way, the business has grown to about $5 million in annual sales with the site having about 150,000 unique visitors per month.

PeC: Why sell appliance parts?

Kagan:I first had the idea of selling appliance parts online in 1997 while working for a local parts distributor and right after I placed my first order with Amazon. It was not until the end of 1999 that our first order was shipped. It took me about a month to make the first version of our site. There was no shopping cart. Orders were placed through a contact form. It’s funny and maybe a little embarrassing looking back now, but I was very proud of it at the time.

PeC: What was it like for you in the early days with the business?

Kagan:I was also working as an appliance technician back then. I would print out the orders from the site in the morning and then, during my lunch break, I would stop by my local parts store to fill them. Then on to UPS to ship them out. I did this for a couple of years.

In 2002, I was better prepared both mentally and financially to get more serious with the business. I quit my job, rented a small warehouse and hired a programmer. We began to work on the new version of the site.

A 16-hour work day was the norm, and I am very thankful for my wife’s support and understanding. She’s a very talented person and besides holding a full time job, she was (and still is) taking care of the financial aspect of the business, something I am really not good at. Everything we did was through trial and error and by watching and studying the “big shots” like Amazon. We spent countless hours trying to figure out the reason behind every aspect of their business and their websites. We took their sites for a spin, placing test orders to see how their system worked. It was an interesting process and I think we’ve learned a lot from it.

PeC: When you redesigned the site in 2002, what did you change?

Kagan:It took about four months to finish the new site. We were very excited and anxious to see the results. We finally had a shopping cart. In addition, the site offered a searchable database of almost 1 million parts for about 170,000 appliance models, near real-time inventory, “my account” features and order tracking. There was also a pretty powerful backend program.

But as the new site was near its completion, I knew this was only the beginning. More functionality was needed, things to make it easier for both us and our customers. I also knew that it would take time and money, and I did not want to get stuck in the never-ending development stage.

So, the decision was made to launch the site, begin to acquire market share, gain experience and plan for the future. As the business began to grow, I was fortunate enough to convince my friend, Matt, to join the company. We used to work together for an appliance parts distributor some years back. He’s one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry, but more importantly, he is someone I can trust and rely on completely.

PeC: Did you design the site yourself or hire a designer?

Kagan:I designed every version of our site and our developer wrote all the script. I plan to have a professional designer in on the next version, but I assure you, I will be greatly involved in the process. After all, it is my baby.

PeC: Do you sell at online locations other than your website?

Kagan:We haven’t tried any channels other than our site. We do have a fairly large number of affiliates. More focus will be put on growing our affiliate program and utilizing shopping comparison sites in 2007.

PeC: How do you market your store?

Kagan:We use pay-per-click extensively. In the beginning I was setting up and managing campaigns myself, and I’m probably pretty good at it. But then again, I was trying to do everything myself, because I didn’t have money to hire someone, and because I didn’t trust anyone.

I found that it’s a very lonely and, more importantly, a slow way to grow your business. Now, I try to outsource as much as possible, I just make sure that I spend the time to find the best company or person for the job. We now have a reputable firm taking care of our pay-per-click campaigns, and I couldn’t be happier. Traffic is up, while cost-per-click is down. Can’t ask for much more.

PeC: Do you incorporate any email marketing?

Kagan:One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made is not paying attention to email marketing. Lesson learned. This year, it will be a big part of our marketing efforts.

PeC: How does Appliance Parts Pros distinguish itself from other companies in the marketplace?

Kagan:I think the main difference between us and our competition is that we have always put our customers and their repair problems first. Every business is out there to make money and be profitable. However, there are different approaches. It’s always been my belief to do your best to take care of the customer, and the financial rewards will follow. And, I’ve yet to be proven wrong.

PeC: Do you manufacture any of your products?

Kagan:We do not manufacture any product. Instead we sell the highest-quality, original appliance parts.

PeC: How do you acquire products for so many older appliances?

Kagan:I think it takes a certain knowledge and experience and a willingness to go the extra mile. It is very easy to tell the customer, “Sorry, it’s not available‚” especially when there is really not much demand for those old parts.

However, that’s not the case when your business model calls for putting the customer first. So we make sure that first, we know what your 1950 O’Keefe & Merritt stove uses, and second, we make our suppliers stock it.

PeC: Do you offer a catalog of products?

Kagan:We find that because of the nature of our business it would not be very helpful to publish a catalog. Most parts are model-specific, and our site does a very good job of locating the right part. We may be publishing a catalog for some of our wholesale customers though — for example, apartment maintenance companies or hardware stores.

PeC: What types of software/technology have you deployed to improve customer experiences?

Kagan:We’ve been using live chat since 2002. It is very effective and our customers love it.

Our part search is extremely functional. By entering your appliance model, you will see it broken down by categories, with breakdown diagrams and a parts list for each category. This makes finding the right part very easy. Our customers tell us it takes them 3-5 minutes to find what they’re looking for, less time than it takes just to sit on hold trying to contact the manufacturer or a local parts store.

Our cross-reference database is very powerful as well. Manufacturers may change part numbers for a part 10-12 times in 20 years. Let’s say you take a part number off your 20-year-old dryer timer and put it in our part number search. It will go through every change and bring back the most current and correct information. I’ve been told that part distributors across the country are using our search on a regular basis.

What shopping cart do you use? We built our own shopping cart. It made sense, since we built the rest of the site ourselves. However, I know there are excellent shopping cart scripts out there and I wouldn’t think twice about using one of them under different circumstances.

PeC: Is search engine optimization a priority for your site?

Kagan: SEO is a very high priority to us, especially with extremely high pay-per-click costs. ‚”White hat” SEO is the only way to go. It may be more difficult and it may take much longer to achieve good results, but it makes much more sense to be patient and see great results long term than to try to get results overnight — only to see your site banned from the search engines.

Also, find a reputable SEO company or person and pay them what they want. Don’t even ask for a discount. One hundred thousand dollars a year? Fine. Just make sure they are good.

PeC: Any particular struggles in the early days you can share that can serve as an inspiration to young companies building a business?

Kagan:I think the most important thing is to stay focused. Plan everything out, then work according to your plan. Do not expect quick results. Something you do today may not bring any results until six months from now. This is especially true with SEO and bringing traffic to your site. It can get a little frustrating, so telling yourself to be patient and stay focused will help greatly.

I found that there are a lot of advice- and opinion-givers out there, whether you asked for it or not. And, more often than not, their opinion and advice are based on their experiences and set of mind. Obviously, there are a lot more losers than winners out there, people that had given up but need to justify their failure to everyone in a form of an advice. They may actually think they’re trying to help you.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told to quit, get a job, do something this way or that way, and that’s from people who never owned a business or achieved any success. You may be the type that likes to hear things like that, if only to prove them wrong, but I prefer to keep away and stay focused instead. I’ve been very lucky, though, to have a supportive wife and parents.

PeC: Were there any mentors that helped you along the way?

Kagan:Back when I was working for a local parts distributor, my manager, Dan Doti, really taught me a lot both about the parts business and, more importantly, how to run a store. I was 18 to 19 years old and foolish at the time, and I really didn’t have any business discipline or knowledge. He really helped me a lot with that and showed me the ropes. Most of the things that helped me with this business I probably picked up from him. He’s been in the parts business for a long time, and I really appreciate what he’s done. I probably couldn’t have done it without him.

PeC: What advice would you give to an ecommerce novice trying to decide which direction to take?

Kagan:Take care of your customers. Be honest with them. They will spread the word and be your best sales team. Don’t give up. The Internet is a wonderful thing. With so many opportunities, I wouldn’t dream of doing business any other way.

What is a high performer?

Five sites have built dynamic businesses in unique niches

Some people may define that purely based on gross revenue numbers or by having a 30 percent pretax profit margin. Others might say a high performer is a company that dominates its market sector or boasts a double-digit conversion rate.

We are all familiar with the success of Google, Yahoo!, eBay, Amazon and other sentinels of online commerce. However, rather than focus on the handful of ebusinesses you might read about in The Wall Street Journal on a regular basis, we felt it was important to showcase online businesses we see doing a terrific job in highly-targeted niche markets.

The five businesses we are showcasing will not be considered among the 10 highest-grossing revenue sites on the web. However, each of these has built a successful business. What one thing do they each have in common? The owners built their businesses around a passion. As you’ll see, those passions run the spectrum of diversity — they include bow ties, appliance parts, horse tack, organizational products and pet supplies.

Each of these sites generates millions of dollars — from $2 million to $125 million in gross revenues — and has stood the test of time by operating for the better part of a decade.

These high-performing sites have proven that online success isn’t reserved for businesses in Silicon Valley. From small-town Vermont to Southern California to rural Massachusetts to the woodlands of Northern Wisconsin, our five high performers show that success has no boundaries.

If there are central themes to each message from the featured businesses, they are: Success generally comes to people who love the products they sell; be the expert in your niche and, above all, take customer service very seriously.

The five sites we will showcase include:,,, and

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About the company

  • Founded


  • Company size

    51 to 200

  • Revenue

    $5M to $25M (USD)

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Customer Service Agent in Cleveland, TN

It is a great place for some people.

It is hard to just sit on the phone all day. People are nice there. Management seems to be good. Very hectic but laid back at the same time. Good place to work, its just not for me.

Customer Service Representative in Cleveland Tennessee

Great place to work, respectful and great benefits.

Company is great, they really care for their employees,. Feel like a family, people are all helpful and caring. Hours are great and possible to work from home if you want to. Training is fantastic and you learn so much which helps you with your own maintenance of your household appliances. No question is a dumb question, and never felt stupid if you do not understand something, just explained so you get it.

Customer Service Representative in Cleveland, TN

Great company!

Great company! Relaxed staff who are always there to help you. This company really treat employees like family! You receive amazing training before you start.

Customer Service Rep/Appliance Tech in Cleveland, TN

phone rings continuously

This job would have been fine, very busy and challenging. But company has not realized the importance of not sitting all the time. I asked to bring in my own versa desk so I could stand and do my work but they wouldn't agree and also office is extremely cold.

PartsPros in Cleveland, TN

They care

They always care about the employees and do whatever they can to make you comfortable. It is a very hard job, but you have resources to help you get through it all.

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Questions and answers

People have asked 10 questions about working at See the answers, explore popular topics and discover unique insights from employees.

What advice would you give the CEO of about how to improve it?

January 4, 2018

Get all new management. Revamp website to fix the misleading model number issues and shipping time issues.

See 2 answers
What is the interview process like at

June 7, 2021

I believe still using temporary services and they doing typing test, to be sure you can and able to use internet. If chosen called for interview and pretty much told immediately if hired or not.

See 1 answer
How should I prepare for an interview at

June 7, 2021

Have a copy of your resume and be able to discuss past employment and experience. Dress casual but not too casual, nice clean Jean's even would be ok. Be personable and ask questions so you understand.

See 1 answer
What is the interview process like at

June 7, 2021

I believe still using temporary services and they doing typing test, to be sure you can and able to use internet. If chosen called for interview and pretty much told immediately if hired or not.

See 1 answer
How should I prepare for an interview at

June 7, 2021

Have a copy of your resume and be able to discuss past employment and experience. Dress casual but not too casual, nice clean Jean's even would be ok. Be personable and ask questions so you understand.

See 1 answer
How did you get your first interview at

November 16, 2018

I applied through the newspaper ad

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What advice would you give the CEO of about how to improve it?

January 4, 2018

Get all new management. Revamp website to fix the misleading model number issues and shipping time issues.

See 2 answers
If you were in charge, what would you do to make a better place to work?

January 4, 2018

Replace management, update website, fix shipping issues.

See 1 answer
What is sick leave policy? How many sick days do you get per year?

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  4. 2019 ktm Launches Repair Forum for Do-It-Yourselfers

VAN NUYS, Calif., Aug. 14, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) --, a leading online appliance parts retailer specialized in helping do-it-yourselfers find replacement parts, has launched a repair forum to provide extensive repair and product knowledge advice to customers interested in fixing their own appliances.

"We have always put our customers and their repair problems first. We've built a reputation as appliance parts repair experts and a dedicated repair forum was a natural next step," said Roman Kagan, CEO, "Visitors can ask specific questions related to their appliance or parts issue and get detailed feedback from our team of professionals. Previously we would interact via live chat or email with a customer and found similar repair topics would frequently come up. Our forum is searchable and organized by appliance type, so visitors can find what they're looking for quickly and easily." has real-time inventory of more than 1 million appliance parts with detailed schematics for over 300,000 appliances. On the company website, customers can search for replacement appliance parts by model number, manufacturer and type of part. Visitors can click on a part and see a diagram of where the part fits on a washing machine, dryer, refrigerator, dishwasher, or oven, which makes finding the right part simple and intuitive.

Although only recently launched, the repair forum is already helping people save on repairs by fixing their appliances themselves. "I just wanted to thank you sooooo much for this site! I just had a plumber come over to give me an estimate on a repair -- my sink and dishwasher were not draining because my disposer was only humming. The estimate was roughly $700! My son and I went to your site, and fixed it ourselves with your help!" commented a forum user.

"Fixing your appliance yourself can seem like an impossible task," remarked Kagan. "But with the right tools and dedicated professional advice, most repairs can be handled without calling a repair service company. We're excited to continue to help people take control of their home appliance repair with our new forum."


Established in 1999, offers home appliance parts and accessories to homeowners and do-it-yourselfers. Customers can get assistance with appliance repair troubleshooting at no charge. was named as one of the "Best of the Web Top 50 Retail Sites" for 2007 by Internet Retailer.

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