Thomas S. Perry’s sharp vision enabled him to establish a highly successful automotive aftermarket business and to serve as president of the Automotive Distributors Association.
In his youth, Perry dreamed of becoming a pilot and an engineer. Unfortunately, limited eyesight cut short the dream of flying, and limited funds curtailed studies to become an engineer. Undeterred, he became an aircraft mechanic.
In the early 1930s, Perry was employed by a piston ring firm in Georgia and later moved into automotive parts sales. In 1939, he founded the Thomas Perry Company to better serve the jobbers and wholesalers engaged in aftermarket parts sector. By 1963, his company’s substantial growth resulted in a merger with Gulf & Western Industries, and he served as president of the resulting American Parts Company.
Successful in 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.