Modern convenience marts are like mini-grocery stores, selling everything from refreshments to household cleaning items to pet products. Several gas stations have also evolved into convenience stores and vice versa. If convenience stores back in the early 1960’s were as diverse in their offerings to consumers, Jim Smyth and six of his siblings might not have ever entered the automotive aftermarket.
Jim’s father, George, owned a convenience store in Cincinnati before eventually pursuing more profitable business ventures. “At the time, convenience stores basically just sold five-cent ice-cream cones,” Jim said. “So my dad decided he couldn’t afford to feed his family by selling ice cream–which is a good thing, since he already had seven kids with three more to come in the future!”
Instead George Smyth entered the used car business, which ultimately led to his opening a salvage yard in 1963. “Dad had trouble getting parts for his used-car lot, so he started his own salvage yard, which seemed like a cool business to us kids at the time,” Jim said. “He was an intelligent, hardworking businessman determined to succeed. Everything my dad made, he put right back into the business.”
By 1965, Smyth Auto Parts had gone from pulling and selling parts off old cars to selling new parts over the counter. The company evolved into warehouse distribution over the years, with George turning the business over to his children in 1983.
Today, with a strong emphasis on retail, Smyth Automotive has built the Parts Plus name throughout the greater Cincinnati area with personalized service and attractive, clean store locations. “We put in long hours and lead by example. Our employees here know that this is our livelihood, and they appreciate that,” said Jim Smyth.
Each of the six Smyth Automotive family members is in charge of a different area of the company– Jim Smyth is the president, CEO, & business-development executive; Bill Smyth is the general manager of the Hillsboro and Wilmington stores; Bob Smyth is the manager of the machine shops in Milford and West Chester; Steve Smyth is the store operations manager; Rita Summers is the general manager & buyer of the six paint centers and outside sales for the paint and body division; and Lynette Smithson is the CFO and treasurer of the company. Third-generation Smyths are also becoming involved in the family business.
Today, the company has 20 locations, including warehouse distributors and company-owned stores throughout the Cincinnati area, as well as in Dayton and Columbus. This family-owned operation has 250-plus vehicles, and more than 100,000 square feet of warehouse inventory space (at their Mt. Carmel fulfillment center alone), filled with over 300,000 SKUs, including performance and accessory parts. Smyth also carries a complete line of tools and equipment for the do-it yourselfer and professional installer.
“Our proud heritage and core values are centered on serving and meeting the ever-changing needs of our customers. Our goal is to partner with our customers by offering the best combination of price, quality, and service,” said Smyth.