Pep Boys are Great with Cars

March 29, 2020

The Pep Boys: Manny, Moe & Jack, known as the “founders of the automotive aftermarket.”

Pep Boys 964 U.S. Store Locations

When the business was founded in 1921 there were four “Pep Boys,” Emmanuel “Manny” Rosenfeld, Maurice “Moe” Strauss, Graham “Jack” Jackson, and Moe Radavitz. They were four Navy friends who chipped in $200 each to open an auto parts store that they called Pep Auto Supply Company.  

How did the business get its name?
It’s a bit of a long story, but back in 1921 cars used oil wicks for their headlights. There was a policeman who worked near the store and, every time he stopped a car for driving at night without lights, he would say, “go see the boys at Pep.” Hence, the name, Pep Boys.

A few years later, Moe Strauss was on a trip to California and he noticed that many West Coast businesses used their owners’ first names. When he returned to Philadelphia, they changed their name to The Pep Boys–Manny, Moe & Jack.

With their new name came a new logo: the Manny, Moe and Jack caricature that still serves as the company’s logo to this day.

Graham “Jack” Jackson left the business in 1927 and his caricature was replaced with that of Moe’s brother, Isadore (Izzy) Strauss. Two years later, Izzy Strauss left to start his own auto supply business, Strauss Stores, in Brooklyn New York.  The store, which later became known as Strauss Auto, closed in 2012.

The company name’s reference to “Jack”
remained unchanged until 1990,
when Manny’s cigar was removed.

Both Manny and Moe were smart business owners. Even the Great Depression of 1929 did not shake their foundation. They had manageable mortgages on their store properties and, despite unemployment rates of 40 percent in some areas of the country, they did not lay off employees, nor did they cut salaries. In fact, they added employees when, in 1933, Manny’s brother, Murray Rosenfeld, opened their first The West Coast Pep Boys store. Within three years, Pep Boys of California had opened 11 stores.

Manny Rosenfeld became the company’s first corporate president in 1945 when the Pep Boys went public. He held the position until his death in 1989.

By 1969, the number of Pep Boys stores had grown to 1249 service bays. In the 1970s, all of their stores had a computerized inventory system.

In the 1980s, Pep Boys was listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the store count grew to more than 7,000. The number of service bays had grown to 3,000 and the company generated more than $2 billion in annual sales.

In the 1990s, growth continued with the opening of stores in Puerto Rico.

The year 2011 was one of growth for Pep Boys, with acquisitions from tire retailers Big O Tires and Big 10 Tires, and automotive repair company My Mechanic. In all, the acquisitions added 84 service and tire centers to the Pep Boys chain. In 2013, Pep Boys acquired 18 Discount Tire Centres in Southern California.

In October 2015, Bridgestone Retail Operations purchased Pep Boys for $835,000,000. However, two months later, Pep Boys terminated the deal with Bridgestone and sold the company to Icahn Enterprises for $1.03 billion. In 2017, Pep Boys acquired Just Brakes, a 134-store auto repair chain.

In April 2019, the new owners of Pep Boys, Icahn Enterprises,
introduced Pep Boys Mobile Crew vehicles to provide on-location maintenance and repair.

Gloria Sauvé
Communications and Marketing

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