Thomas S. Perry

Inducted 1996

Distinguished Service Citation Award 1983

Founded the Thomas Perry Company in 1939, selling automotive parts to jobbers and wholesalers Elected President of the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association in 1959 Merged his company with Gulf & Western Industries and served the resulting American Parts Company as President Poor eyesight prevented Thomas Perry from becoming a pilot, but his sharp vision enabled him to establish a highly successful automotive business. In his youth, Perry dreamed of becoming a pilot and an engineer. Unfortunately, his limited eyesight cut short his dream of flying planes, and his limited funds curtailed his dream of becoming an engineer. Undeterred, he used his skills as a mechanic to enter the aircraft field, and later the automotive aftermarket business.

In the early 1930s, Perry was employed by a piston ring firm in Georgia and he later became an automotive parts manufacturer’s agent. In 1939 he started his own automotive distribution business. By 1963, his company’s substantial growth resulted in a merger with Gulf & Western Industries. Successful in his own business, Perry also provided his expertise to the Small Business Administration. There he guided many independent and family business owners to success, including peanut farmer and future President Jimmy Carter.

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Class of 1996

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