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IT ALL STARTED IN 1927.EP Arnold

E.P. Arnold, who saw a future in the automobile parts industry, started Arnold Motor Supply in 1927. As he watched the popularity of the automobile increase,
he knew that there would be a market for replacement parts. Although he did not know much about automobiles, Mr. Arnold built a box for the back of a 1927 Chevrolet, and some mechanic friends helped him select about $65 worth of parts that garages would need. He tacked up a price list and traveled town to town in Northwest Iowa. Thus, with $300 savings and a $200 loan, our company was born. In 1929, Mr. Arnold expanded the operation by purchasing a piston grinder. In 1931, he opened the first branch auto parts store in Marshall, Minnesota with Paul Byers as his first partner and branch manager. In that same year, the Spencer fire destroyed the original store which was promptly rebuilt. Despite advice from bankers and warning of the shaky retail environment, Mr. Arnold opened his third store in Sheldon in 1932.

From the beginning, Mr. Arnold believed that people would work harder as owners than employees. With this belief, he built the business to ten stores with ten partners over the next twenty years. In the early 1950s, the competition was keen and Mr. Arnold viewed investing in people as his competitive advantage. The unique pay structure that Mr. Arnold developed meant he was able to recruit top people. As competitors tried to hire away his valuable employees, Mr. Arnold decided to take his partnership program which had worked well with store managers, and extend it to include some of his top sales and shop people. To attest to the foresight of Mr. Arnold, many of his original formulas and pay-plans are still in use today. His philosophy is reflected in his statement, “ You build a business with people, not with buildings of brick and stone...”.

In 1960, Mr. Arnold built the auto parts warehouse in Spencer and named it The Merrill Company after his son, Merrill Arnold. At first, the new warehouse sold only to the ten Arnold Motor Supply stores. In 1966, Mr. Arnold opened the partnership to all employees. Recognizing the opportunity ownership presented, everyone joined. Today our partners include many second and third-generation owners. When an employee is invited to join the partnership, their minimum investment is just $500, a tribute to the amount Mr. Arnold had when he started the company.

Growth continued through the 1970s. When we joined the Auto Value group in March of 1983 our store count was at nineteen. When the partnership purchased Automotive Paint and Equipment, a stand-alone paint and body supply store in Illinois in 1996 we had twenty-seven stores. In that same year, a light industrial coatings division was formed which today is known as Industrial Paint Solutions, and sells industrial paint to light-duty manufacturers. In 1999, Specialty Sales, an automotive parts distributor in Omaha, Nebraska, and their 10 stores were purchased, bringing the store count to forty-five. These stores took on the Auto Value brand. In 2003, we expanded our commercial coatings business with the purchase of Industrial Paint Supply in Omaha, NE. In 2005 we added our first manufacturing division, Midwest Cylinder Head in Nevada, IA, which rebuilds engines and engine components. In 2006, we started Auto Refinish Solutions, our division that supplies collision parts, and sells and services heavy-duty body shop and industrial painting equipment. Today, through acquisitions and new builds, we have fifty-nine automotive parts stores, twenty-two of which contain full-service machine shops. In addition to the stores, our company includes Midwest Cylinder Head and Machine in Nevada, IA, Auto Refinish Solutions which specializes in paint and body repair parts and equipment, and Industrial Paint Solutions.





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