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The Pep Boys Story
In 1921, four Navy buddies spotted an emerging market for auto supplies stores and pooled $800 to open the first one in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Since then, Pep Boys has been ahead of its time in the business world, weathering several economic events to remain one of the most widely known aftermarket auto parts and service brands in the country today.
Emanual “Manny” Rosenfeld, two Moes- Maurice “Moe” Strauss and Moe Radavitz- and W. Graham “Jack” Jackson chipped in $200 each to start the business. With car ownership skyrocketing, following the introduction of the assembly line production of the Ford Model T, Strauss saw a need for an auto accessories store and knew with the right partners he could make it happen. The founders rented a store at 7-11 North 63rd Street in West Philadelphia, but it still needed a name.
As the foursome initially set up their store, Moe’s eye fell on a carton of Pep Valve Grinding compound and suggested Pep. Pep Auto Supply Company was the company’s name its first two years. The current, famous “Pep Boys” name emerged in pieces, partly coming from a Philadelphia police officer who encouraged people to visit “the boys at Pep” and a cross-country trip to Los Angeles that inspired the “Manny, Moe & Jack” moniker from a dress shop. Radivitz and Jackson eventually left the business a short time later, and Strauss’ brother eventually took on the role of Jack.
Shrewd planning kept the company safe during the Great Depression. Manny and Moe had incurred no business debts other than reasonable mortgages on store properties. Even during the Depression, Americans still had to spend money on their cars, keeping aftermarket suppliers in business. Pep Boys also sold non-auto accessories including radio supplies and bicycles that made sense for their customer base. The company did not cut back or lay off personnel, run up debt, or sell out to a competitor during the Depression. Instead, it doubled its strength by expanding to California.
Pep Boys opened their first store in Los Angeles in 1933. The California expansion was opened as a separate company, The Pep Boys- Manny, Moe & Jack of California. The company’s first service bays opened their doors in Los Angeles since stores were larger in square footage out west.
Pep Boys went public in 1945 in order to meet increasing consumer demand unleashed at the end of WWII. The infusion of cash went directly into growing the business, and Pep Boys followed the masses out to the suburbs.
The company’s headquarters got a new home as well, moving to its current location at 3111 West Allegheny Avenue in the East Falls section of Philadelphia. Pep Boys moved to the building on May 26, 1947, and paid off the mortgage by 1959. Today, this building is known as the Store Support Center, housing the company’s corporate offices.
In the next 20 years, the number of stores nearly tripled to a total of 124 by 1969. It was during this time service bays and service managers were added to each store. Through the 1970s, Pep Boys converted all stores to self-serviced merchandising and implemented a computerized inventory system.
The 1980s brought the most aggressive expansion program in the company’s history. To raise capital, Pep Boys split its stock 3-for-1 and moved to the New York Stock Exchange in 1982. This strategy enabled rapid growth and brought about the birth of the automotive “supercenter.” This concept boosted Pep Boys to more than 700 stores, almost 3,600 service bays and more than $2 billion in annual sales.
Pep Boys continued its expansion in the 1990s, including to Puerto Rico. As the automotive aftermarket need has shifted over time from a majority of auto parts customers who identify as “Do it Yourselfers” to an increasing number of customers who prefer service centers to take care of their automotive maintenance and repair, Pep Boys has expanded its service business. Today Pep Boys provides service for more than six million cars and car owners each year. More than 23 million “Rewards” members have signed up for special offers in stores.
Since 2009, Pep Boys has focused on the development of service and tire centers within its existing markets as its primary growth strategy. Today the company operates more than 7,400 service bays in nearly 800 stores nationwide. At the same time, in some of its traditional supercenters, the company has expanded to include “Speed Shops” within its retail stores, which cater to the growing number of car enthusiasts who have fun working on performance cars, like hot rods, “muscle cars” and off-road trucks.
In 2012, Pep Boys created a new service and retail customer experience, which it refers to as “The Road Ahead. ” Similar to the experience found at some high-end car dealerships, new Pep Boys stores feature customer lounges with amenities such as complimentary Wi-Fi and flat screen TVs near its full-service maintenance and repair shops, as well as the most diverse retail product assortment in the automotive aftermarket.
With almost 20,000 friendly and knowledgeable
associates living the legacy of Manny, Moe & Jack,
Pep Boys’ vision is to be the best place to shop
and care for your car.
Since a 2016 acquisition, Pep Boys is owned by Icahn Automotive Group LLC, which was formed by its parent, Icahn Enterprises L.P., to invest in and operate businesses involved in aftermarket parts distribution and service.