AUTO PARTS SALES
“Professional Parts People”
—O’Reilly Advertising Campaign
The name O’Reilly is seen in front of thousands of auto parts stores across the country and on the hoods of NASCAR and other racing vehicles, but the nationwide fame started in Missouri, where the family continues to call home.
THE EARLY YEARS
The patriarch of the O’Reilly family moved to Missouri in the mid-1800s from Ireland. Michael Byrne O’Reilly settled in St. Louis where he earned a law degree and took a job as title examiner. His son, Charlie Francis O’Reilly, was born and raised in St. Louis and was the driving force behind the auto parts legacy that succeeded him.
RISE TO FAME
Charles Francis “C. F.” O’Reilly took a job at an auto supply company in St. Louis where he sold parts throughout the Midwest. One of the cities in his territory
was Springfield, Missouri. He realized the area was poised for growth, so he asked the company to transfer him. He eventually became the manager of Link
Motor Supply in Springfield where his son, Charles H. “Chub” O’Reilly, also worked. The two helped grow the company into one of the largest auto supply
stores in the area in the 1930s.
During company reorganization, the owner of Link Motor pushed the elder O’Reilly toward retirement and tried to transfer his son to Kansas City, but the
two balked at the plan. The O’Reillys weren’t ready to quit the business, or move, so they decided to start their own store. O’Reilly Automotive, Incorporated, was born and opened to the public in November of 1957.
SHOW ME SUCCESS
O’Reilly Automotive started small, with only one store and twelve employees. Sales and revenues were strong from the start, and expansion followed shortly
thereafter. After C. F. passed away, Chub O’Reilly took the reins and forged ahead to grow the company.
As with many family businesses, the children expanded the corporation beyond what their parents ever imagined. This happened not only when Chub took
over from his father, but also when Chub’s children succeed him. Chub literally raised his children in the business, so they had a good understanding of the company’s core business beliefs when it was time for them to take over. His children, Charles H. “Charlie,” Larry, Rosalie, and David, were already groomed for business success, which was rapidly happening around them as they grew up.
Just four years after the company was founded, sales reached more than a $1 million. Fourteen years later, that number rose to more than $7 million in sales
revenue, with stores in many cities in southwest Missouri. The 1990s and early 2000s were a time of rapid expansion and explosive growth for the company.
Not only did the company land a spot on the stock market, but they also began gobbling up smaller stores in the process. O’Reilly merged with Hi/LO Auto
Supply, which added nearly two hundred stores. They then expanded again when they bought Mid-State Automotive Distributors.
By the early 2000s, there were around fourteen hundred O’Reilly Auto Parts Stores in twenty-five states with sales approaching $2 billion. Despite the company’s nationwide success, the family continues to call the Springfield area home. Chub’s four children are still active in the corporation with David O’Reilly the Chairman of the Board. Charlie O’Reilly, Rosalie O’Reilly Wooten, and Larry O’Reilly are retired, but they still retain a spot on the board of directors.
*O’Reilly made their influence felt sponsoring numerous high-profile races, including:
- *The O’Reilly 300 NASCAR Busch Series.
- *The O’Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.
- *The O’Reilly 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Race.