Since 1920, National Bushing & Parts Company has served professional installers and serious do-it-yourself customers throughout Minnesota with quality parts, supplies and service. During the 1990s, the National Bushing name transitioned to the Auto Value banner. Today, there are more than 130 company stores and independent store customers throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
In 1920, two enterprising gentlemen, Ray Riley and Aime Pouliot, formed the National Bushing & Parts Company in Minneapolis. The name was created because National Bushing manufactured and sold bronze bushings, as well as distributed other replacement parts to a growing repair trade for automobiles such as Pierce Arrow, Packard and Ford. In addition, truck, bus and tractor parts rounded out an inventory that included Bosch magnetos, Essex hubcaps and Sterling starter grinds. A National Bushing parts catalog was printed in the early years — very innovative for the parts business in the 1920s.
The company immediately developed a niche for machine shop work and established a reputation as one of the finest and most diverse shops in the upper Midwest. As a result, National Bushing and Parts Co. opened its first store in 1922, along Harmon Place, also known as "Automotive Row" in Minneapolis.
A second store opened in St. Paul in 1925. A year later, the bushing-manufacturing segment of the business was sold. This allowed for two more stores to be set up in Rochester in 1927 and Mankato in 1928. The Great Depression halted expansion for a few years. By the mid 1930s, Pouliot and Riley were ready for more wholesale parts outlets and opened stores in Fergus Falls and St. Cloud. The National Bushing & Parts Company was now firmly established in Minnesota: the Twin Cities, plus south and north.
In 1938, Jack Bartlett joined the company as a janitor while he was finishing high school. He worked his way up through various positions until he became store manager and then in 1959, a financial partner in the St. Cloud store and several other locations. Jack lead the team which produced rapid store growth and the acquisition of Minnesota Parts Warehouse; which ultimately became Automotive Parts Headquarters (APH). Jack Bartlett was instrumental in providing the opportunity for future company expansion.
When Jack passed away in 1976, his son John, who was already involved in the business, stepped into the role of president. John, over the next thirty years was responsible for significant company store and independent customer growth. In 2006, this growth culminated in the move to a 160,000 sq. ft. distribution center located in St. Cloud, Minnesota, to serve APH’s ever-expanding business.
In some markets, APH still uses the National Bushing name, in conjunction with Auto Value, the common identity of all APH locations. APH joined the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance in 1986. As a member, APH uses the Auto Value brand, and draws strength from this coalition of independent aftermarket companies throughout the world.
Today, with its network of more than 130 company stores and independent store customers, APH is consistently ranked in Babcox Media’s Top 20 Super Stores. John, in 2008 became CEO and passed the role of president to a third generation of the Bartlett family, Corey, who was previously engaged in APH’s management. Corey and the APH team, utilizing carefully designed strategies, are confident APH can continue its impressive growth well into the future.