Buying new stores is only the beginning, says O'Reilly exec

Jan. 1, 2020
When O'Reilly buys a new store, the hardest part begins after the acquisition, says Ted Wise, COO and co-president of O'Reilly Automotive. "The toughest part of our business is after we put the new store in," says Wise, the guest speaker at yesterday
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When O’Reilly buys a new store, the hardest part begins after the acquisition, says Ted Wise, COO and co-president of O’Reilly Automotive.

“The toughest part of our business is after we put the new store in,” says Wise, the guest speaker at yesterday’s Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) Executive Breakfast.

Though O’Reilly has risen from humble beginnings, the company is now the
country’s third largest retailer based on store count, with sales of over $2 billion a year and nearly 1,800 stores. O’Reilly’s is celebrating 50 years in business, and with 14 distribution centers scattered throughout the country, the distributor has plans to erect a 15th DC Lubbock, Texas by the end of the year.

Each of these DCs offer a 200 mile radius of growth, Wise adds.

Growth has been key to O’Reilly’s success, and Wise jokingly says that at one time, if a jobber didn’t pay their bill, the store became an O’Reilly store.

Though expansion is something every company strives for, another challenge for O’Reilly has been retaining its culture in the face of all of the development.

This culture is on the minds of executives when it comes to store managers.

“We put a lot of effort into growing our managers,” says Wise. Every store manager has been through the Springfield, Mo. headquarters, he adds.

Training has been an emphasis of O’Reilly’s business strategy, says Wise, who discussed the company’s Learning Management Systems (LMS) for employees.

He admits, “It’s tough getting people in the parts business.”

Wise says it’s also a challenge maintaining the company’s even retail/wholesale mix.

“It’s not easy, but it’s doable to ramp up and grow the way we’ve been doing.”
Being a great wholesaler and retailer out of the same box has been slow and painful, he admits.

O’Reilly also is focusing on reducing warranty returns. “I’m not sure why our industry ever came up with the phrase (lifetime warranty).”

He says, “In less then four years, we’ve reduced our warranties by 30 percent.”

Wise also discussed the company’s First Call program, in which the company removed the O’Reilly logo from their trucks and shirts and replaced them with First Call to try to garner new business. 

Wise says O’Reilly’s success starts with quality lines on down to proper training and shop management systems.

At the event, also announced a giveaway of a custom car in honor of the founder “Chubb” O’Reilly.

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