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