Wilton D. Looney

Inducted 1992

Distinguished Service Citation Award 1983

1919 - 2018

Elected Chairman and CEO of Genuine Parts Company in 1961, serving in that position until his retirement in 1990. Wilton D. Looney’s leadership at Genuine Parts Company can best be summed up with a policy he called “Looney’s Law” – “we’re not just interested in making a sale; we’re interested in making our customers profitable and happy.” Wilton D. Looney guided GPC’s growth from $34 million to more than $3.4 billion in sales during his tenure as CEO.

Looney knew after finishing high school in 1936 that he didn’t want to continue working on his parent’s one-mule farm in Vanna, Georgia. He traveled to Elberton, Georgia and found a job at Western Auto Supply Company where he worked for $10 per week, six days a week until he was recruited to work for Genuine Parts Company in Charlotte, North Carolina.

He served in the US Army during World War II as a vehicle maintenance and construction supervisor on the Burma Road project. He finished his service ranked a Major. After the war he resumed his career with Genuine Parts spending a year in Atlanta before moving to New Orleans to head operations in the region. After seven years there, Looney moved his wife and daughter to New York and then to Boston to continue his career with Genuine Parts before returning to Atlanta in 1955 to assume the role of president. He was fortunate to work with his mentor, Carlyle Fraser, for the next six years until Mr. Fraser’s passing.

Looney showed the automotive parts industry how to share the work…and share the rewards. . Never forgetting the lessons of his mentor, Looney placed trust in his employees and constantly championed the cause of small, independent parts jobbers.

Looney was able to cultivate a process of efficiency and customer service to achieve phenomenal growth for Genuine Parts Company. Looney was elected Chairman and CEO of Genuine Parts Company serving in that position until his retirement in 1990.

When Looney retired from Genuine Parts Company in 1990, he continued to maintain an office at company headquarters and attend every board meeting for the next 28 years, totaling almost 80 years with his beloved company.

Genuine Parts Company Inductees and Awardees
1993 Awardee Dan Askey
1997 Inductee Joseph R. Degnan
1989 Awardee Earl Dolive
1981 Inductee Carlyle Fraser
2020 Inductee Thomas Gallagher
1991 Inductee William C. Hatcher
1999 Awardee Larry L. Prince
1995 Awardee John J. Scalley
1997 Awardee Carol Yancey

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1919

Born in Vanna, Georgia

1936

Started working at Western Auto Supply before being recruited to work for Genuine Parts Company (GPC) in Charlotte, North Carolina

1941

Served in the US Army during the Second World War as a Major who supervised the Burma Road project in Southwest China

1945

After the war, resumed his career with GPC in Atlanta and later New Orleans

1952

Moved to New York City and Boston while working at GPC

1955

Returned to Atlanta to be named President of GPC

1961

Became the CEO of GPC and honorary chair member

1972

Acquired Corbett’s LTD, a Canadian auto parts distributor

1975

Co-founded the Carlyle Fraser Heart Center at Emory Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia with his mentor at GPC, Carlyle Fraser

1976

Acquired Motion Industries, Inc. diversifying industrial parts business

1978

Installed successful point of sale system with Data General Corp.

1981

Reached $1.6 billion in sales and 55 U.S. distribution centers

1982

Acquired Dallas-based General Automotive Parts Corp.

1983

Received a Distinguished Service Citation from The Automotive Hall of Fame

1990

Retired from Genuine Parts Company after almost 80 years of service

1992

Inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame

2018

Passed away at the age of 99

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Class of 1992

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