One hundred years ago, Navy buddies with a passion for cars set out to make a living. In the process, they helped invent the automotive aftermarket—driven by the belief that the key to business is always doing right by your customer.

Manny, Moe, and Jack are a big part of the story, but there are thousands of others, who also went further for their customers and communities, to thank for Pep Boys' success. Let's take a road trip through the decades and check out the people and cultural changes that forged a brand lasting a century and counting. The year is 1921. The place: Philadelphia.

One hundred years ago, Navy buddies with a passion for cars set out to make a living. In the process, they helped invent the automotive aftermarket—driven by the belief that the key to business is always doing right by your customer.

Manny, Moe, and Jack are a big part of the story, but there are thousands of others, who also went further for their customers and communities, to thank for Pep Boys' success. Let's take a road trip through the decades and check out the people and cultural changes that forged a brand lasting a century and counting. The year is 1921. The place: Philadelphia.

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history
"Go See the Boys at Pep"

It was his third attempt, but Maurice "Moe" Strauss knew he could get his auto parts supply shop off the ground if he could just find the right mix. He had a sharp mind for business, but he needed someone who could focus on the numbers—and a partner or two with more naturally affable dispositions. His close friends from the Navy—Emanuel "Manny" Rosenfeld, W. Graham "Jack" Jackson, and Moe Radavitz—fit the bill, and in 1921, the four opened their first store on North 63rd Street in West Philadelphia.

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Going Further, Faster

Despite the hardships of the Great Depression, the business was expanding at a breathtaking rate as new stores opened in states across the East and in California. The Boys were focused on ensuring their customers always got the best possible value—which didn't always sit well with competitors and manufacturers who wanted to control pricing.

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A Storm Brewing

Moe's roots were in Europe. The son of two Russian immigrants, he felt the winds of war picking up before most folks in the U.S. knew what was coming. He knew that rubber would soon become scarce, and that customers were going to lose access to replacement parts they'd sorely need in the coming years. He began stocking his warehouse with whatever tires he could buy. When World War II began to impact the American economy, Pep Boys was the only store that carried and sold rubber tires.

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Get With the Program

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that's the case, Pep Boys was getting a lot of compliments from copycats such the Prep Boys, the Pop Boys, the Pep Girls (Fanny, Flo, and Jackie), and more—a testament to the strength of the brand and The Boys' nowfamous faces.

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Winners Make Big Moves

For the Pep Boys, the '60s marked a decade of expansion. Moe's son Robert led the move into Texas and combined the East and West branches of the business into a single, unified organization—a move that would allow the company to open 43 stores. Moe moved to California for part of each year, becoming a much-loved member of the storied Friars Club of Beverly Hills.

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A Decade of Change

Pep Boys reached the '70s as a family-oriented, low-tech retailer with strong presence on the coasts, but not much in between. Though combining the East and West arms of the business had allowed growth, more needed to be done. Moe Strauss used to believe that if sales got high enough, you'd have profits because, as he was fond of saying, "You can't cut a cake without crumbs." That approach worked for a long time, but just like the culture and technology of the time, things began to evolve quickly—and The Boys evolved with it.

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Everything in Motion

Manny's and Moe's love for pushing the brand to new heights lived on and thrived in the technological flourish of the '80s. Animated mascots were created, with The Boys receiving a cosmetic update in 1987, going 3D for the first time. The business itself got a shiny new model, too. By ’84, the service and repair segments had become the fastest-growing segments, foreshadowing a big shift in the business.

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The Missing Piece

Something was off. It wasn't television, print, or radio coverage. The sponsorships were lining up, and each gear in the business operations machine was running smoothly, for the most part. The brand and business had evolved, but one major change was still to come. In 1992, it clicked—the first bilingual catalog was published for millions of Spanish-speaking drivers across the country. Before the decade was through, Pep Boys had opened its first store in Puerto Rico, and was expanding its presence across the island.

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New Ways to Go Further

Auto service quickly became the majority of Pep Boys' business in the new century, as "Do-It-For-Me" customers outnumbered DIY customers. Pep Boys continued to adapt and respond to trends, offering express services, designing flexible and mobile options for fleet customers, and starting a scholarship program for aspiring Technicians. One thing that has never changed is Pep Boys' commitment to its local community and veterans causes, inspired by its founders.

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Car Guys You're Looking For

Pep Boys was popular—with consumers, obviously, but also with other business entities as well. Almost purchased by several suitors, Pep Boys was finally acquired in 2016 by Icahn Enterprises as part of its automotive group. With big plans for investment and growth, Pep Boys went private as it started to transform its business. In recognition of the seismic societal shifts driving the need for expert auto care, Pep Boys began to reinvent itself as a service-focused company that only retailed parts in the locations where its customers needed them most.

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What Will We Think of Next?

Pep Boys was founded to fill a consumer need. Thanks to passion and hard work, we've never stopped evolving. Through every decade, a new lesson was learned. In response to every market swing and every new technology, an adaptation. From simply making quality automotive replacement parts available at a fair price, our mission has grown to making expert car care simple, accessible, and convenient for everyone. We've always gone further, and that's helped Pep Boys become the household name and iconic brand it is today.

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It wasn't just Manny, Moe, and Jack. It took countless customers, employees, and business partners to make this business possible.

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