O’Reilly Auto Parts is an American auto parts retailer that provides automotive aftermarket parts, tools, supplies, equipment, and accessories in the United States serving both the professional service providers and do-it-yourself customers. Founded in 1957 by the O’Reilly family, the company operates more than 5,100 stores in 47 states.
O’Reilly Automotive, Inc. officially started in the auto parts business with one store in Springfield, Missouri, in December 1957.
Michael Byrne O’Reilly immigrated to America in 1849, settling in St. Louis, he worked his way through school to earn a law degree, and then pursued a career as a title examiner. His son, Charles Francis O’Reilly, attended college in St. Louis and went to work in 1914 as a traveling salesman for Fred Campbell Auto Supply in St. Louis. By 1924, Charles had become familiar with the Springfield area, having traveled by train to sell auto parts throughout the territory.
By 1932, he had become manager of Link Motor Supply in Springfield, and one of his sons, Charles H. (Chub) O’Reilly, joined the company. Together they provided the leadership and management that made Link the predominant auto parts store in the area.
In 1957, Link planned a reorganization, which would have included the retirement of 72-year-old Charles F. O’Reilly, and the transfer of Chub O’Reilly to Kansas City. Since neither agreed with these plans, they made the decision to form their own company, O’Reilly Automotive, Inc. They opened for business on December 2, 1957, with one store and 13 employees at 403 Sherman in Springfield. Their sales totaled $700,000 in 1958, their first full year of business.
By 1961, the company’s volume had reached $1.3 million — the combined volume of O’Reilly Automotive and Ozark Automotive Distributors, a division formed to serve independent automotive jobbers in the area. In March 1975, annual sales volume rose to $7 million and a 52,000 square-foot facility at 233 S. Patterson was built for the O’Reilly/Ozark warehouse operation.
By that time, the company had nine stores, all located in southwest Missouri.