AutoZone is a retailer and distributor of aftermarket automotive parts and accessories. based in Memphis, Tennessee.
Originally a division of Memphis-based wholesale grocer Malone & Hyde, the company went under the name Auto Shack. After the sale of the grocery operation to the Fleming Companies of Oklahoma City, the name of the company was changed to AutoZone to reflect the new focus and to settle a lawsuit brought by Tandy Corporation for trademark infringement. AutoZone holds the naming rights to the downtown Memphis baseball stadium that is the home of the Memphis Redbirds of the Pacific Coast League. The company also sponsors the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
1979 Forrest City, Arkansas, was site for the first AutoZone store under the name of Auto Shack. Doc Crain was the store’s first manager. Sales that first day totaled $300.00
In 1981, Express Parts or VDP is implemented to get the customers hard to find parts by special ordering them through wholesalers. Total stores was 73 in 7 states.
In 1984, the company became the first auto parts retailer to create a quality control program for its parts. Total stores was 194 in 13 states.
In 1985, Doc Crain coined the term WITTDTJR, which stands for “What it takes to do the job right.” Total store count is 263 in 14 states.
By 1986, expansion had made the company grow into a large store chain across the South and the Midwest. That year, Darren Reltherford, manager of Auto Shack’s Memphis branch, received the first Extra Miler award, which has since been given to AutoZoners who show their dedication to customer satisfaction by “going the extra mile” for customer service. The Duralast line of alternators and starters is released. The Loan-A-Tool program begins allowing customers the ability to borrow specific tools for jobs. The 4th Distribution Center in Greenville, SC opens. Total of stores is 339 in 15 states.
In 1988, Auto Shack officially changed its name to AutoZone. This would mark the beginning of an era of large expansion for the company, as it would soon open stores in other areas across the United States. That year also, the company introduced WITT-JR, an electronic catalog used to look up parts and keep warranty information. Total of stores is now 459 in 16 states.
In 1989, the company began using a computerized store management system (SMS). The Duralast battery line is released consisting of Sub-Zero, Desert and long life. Total of stores is 513 in 17 states.
In 1991, its stock began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. It opened up at $27.50 a share. It was then valued at $1 billion. The 5th DC opens in Lafayette, LA. The company also became the first auto parts retailer to register customer warranties in a computer database.
In 1994, AutoZone began using satellites to facilitate communication between stores and the corporate office. Sales hit $1.5 billion.
In 1995, their 1,000th store was opened on Bardstown Road in Louisville, Kentucky. Also, the Duralast trademark made its debut with the Duralast and Duralast Gold batteries. Total of stores is now 1,143 in 26 states.
1996 was the year when the Internet era arrived at the company, when AutoZone opened its company Web site. The new commercial program was debuted in Germantown, Tennessee. ALLDATA, a software company that provides automotive diagnostic and repair information was acquired.
In 1998, AutoZone acquired 112 Auto Palace stores in six states in the northeastern United States, 43 TruckPro L.P. stores in 14 states, and 560 Chief Auto Parts Inc. stores in 5 states. At the commencement of fiscal 1999, AutoZone made another acquisition by purchasing 100 Express stores from The Pep Boys—Manny, Moe & Jack. The company began a process of internationalization with their first store abroad, which opened in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. AutoZone closed the 1990s by debuting at the Fortune 500 list in 1999.
Steve Odland became AutoZone’s third CEO in 2001. AutoZone’s Vision and Values are released. Vision: “Relentlessly creating the most exciting Zone for vehicle solutions!” AutoZone’s value statements: Integrity, Respect, Teamwork, Communication, Innovation, Initiative, Accountability, Thriftiness, Leadership, Excellence.
In 2002, AutoZoners developed a network of “hub, feeder, and satellite” stores to have more product in the market area, while reducing inventory investment. Sales hit $5.32 billion.
In 2003, the Duralast tool line was introduced. This was a year of important negotiations for AutoZone, as the company partnered with other important auto parts industry companies, such as CarMax and Midas. AutoZone de Mexico opens the first DC in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Total stores number 3,219 in 48 states and 49 in Mexico.
In 2004, AutoZone celebrated its 25th anniversary and announced a corporate sponsorship agreement with auto racing association NASCAR. In addition, founder J.R. “Pitt” Hyde III was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame. Pitt Hyde set a precedent as the first aftermarket retailer in the Automotive Hall of Fame.
In 2005, William C. Rhodes III was named President and CEO. Steve Odland left to become the Chairman and CEO of Office Depot.
In 2007 Bill Rhodes, 42, was named Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of AutoZone, Inc. on June 6.
In 2007, AutoZone sponsored Kevin Harvick & Timothy Peters in the NASCAR Busch Series
In 2007, AutoZone opened their 4,000th store in Houston, Texas. Sales hit $6.2 billion.
As of May 7, 2011, AutoZone operates 4,467 stores in 48 states.
On December 6, 2011 Autozone reported that online sales grew to $40.2 million for the first fiscal quarter of 2012; up 9.5% year over year. Total sales were reported at $1.92 billion; up 7.3% year over year.
In 2012, AutoZone expanded into its 49th state, Alaska, with two of five planned stores.
On August 17, 2012, AutoZone opened their 5,000th store in Wasilla, Alaska.
In 2012 AutoZone opened their first store in Brazil.
In December, 2012 AutoZone purchased AutoAnything.com, an ecommerce leader in aftermarket automotive parts.
AutoZone is incorporated in the state of Nevada.
Valucraft, Duralast, Duralast Gold and Duralast Platinum are AutoZone’s private label brands for automotive batteries (manufactured by Johnson Controls), as well as other parts and accessories such as brakes, ignition, tools, etc…
CSR efforts comprise donations to helpful organizations in the communities where AutoZone does business.
Not franchises, AutoZone’s 5,000+ retail outlets throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Brazil stock a variety of aftermarket parts. AutoZone’s 5000th store in Wasilla, Alaska, opened on August 17, 2012.
Controversies and criticism
Controversies have included patent-infringement lawsuits. The company has been criticized by its employees.
Founder J.R. “Pitt” Hyde, Jr. bought the building involved in Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination: “AutoZone founder and civil rights benefactor J. R. Pitt ‘Hyde’ [sic] Jr. intends to buy Chappell’s building and donate it to the Lorraine Foundation, which operates the museum, said Beverly Robertson, museum executive director.”
In March, 2006, the company was accused of infringing two patents owned by Orion IP, LLC, in a lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of Texas. In May 2007, the company settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount and the case was dismissed.
In September, 2009, AutoZone was accused of infringing a patent owned by Lisle Corporation in a lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Iowa.
In September, 2010, the company was sued by the US Equal Opportunity Employment Commission for firing an employee.
Survey of employee satisfaction
A 2009 survey of employee satisfaction conducted by glassdoor.com resulted in AutoZone being ranked the 4th worst workplace in America.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article AutoZone, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.