Resiliency and adaptability are the cornerstones of any business hoping to thrive in an ever-changing landscape.
That’s why the locally-owned chain of NAPA Auto Parts stores has done so well. They readily recognize and respond to the shifting needs of the marketplace.
AT A GLANCE
Primary product/service: Automotive parts and supplies
Top executives: Isra Thames, President; Timmy Thames, Managing Partner; Tracy Thames, Managing Partner
Year founded: 1971
For years, not much change was necessary. I.B. Thames Jr. founded his NAPA business in 1971 with a single store in Lutcher, then added two stores in Alexandria and Reserve.
Later, sons Timmy and Tracy ran the business, laying a foundation for future growth. In the early 2000s, however, it became obvious that the company needed to evolve in order to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive environment.
Isra Thames IV, I.B.’s grandson, began guiding the company through a period of expansions in services, facilities and employees across southeast Louisiana and Baton Rouge.
Now approaching its 50-year anniversary, the Thames Group is 14 stores and 100 employees strong, and poised to continue its growth trajectory through a mix of retail and commercial contracts. Thames, now president, expects to add five additional stores in the next five years.
He also plans to enhance Internet-based services and focus more on the retail side of the business by increasing hours of operation and renovating storefronts.
Still, the local NAPA chain’s “bread and butter” is its contract clients. The local stores have a fleet of some 50 vehicles delivering automotive supplies to state and local governments and a variety of commercial clients, from the small “mom and pops” to national chains.
Its commercial delivery fleet runs from New Orleans to Alexandria, and they ship parts anywhere in the U.S.
“We’ve successfully maintained several contracts with major companies, largely due to our negotiated, competitive pricing and customer service,” Thames says. “We also offer a quality product, exceptional customer service and a local presence.”
Of course, a company’s employees provide the foundation for good customer service, so local NAPA workers are regularly trained at the Baton Rouge Automotive Technical College. “Each employee goes through 50 hours of training every year,” Thames says.
That work ethic has earned the admiration of Kevin Herron, president of U.S. Automotive Parts Group in Atlanta, and Thames’ corporate partner.
“The independent NAPA store owner is the lifeblood of our organization,” Herron says. “These small business owners and the entrepreneurial spirit they exhibit generate a distinct advantage when competing in the marketplace.”
“The independent NAPA store owner is the lifeblood of our organization. These small business owners and the entrepreneurial spirit they exhibit generate a distinct advantage when competing in the marketplace.”
Read the full message from
NAPA Auto Parts – APS LLC President Isra Thames
Herron says the need for the local auto parts stores isn’t going anywhere, as key indicators for the automotive aftermarket—particularly in the Baton Rouge area—remain strong.
“Having longstanding partners such as the Thames Group ensures we will be able to capitalize on these favorable conditions,” he adds.