By David Pittman –
O’Rielly Chevrolet, the oldest existing auto dealership in metro Tucson, is celebrating its 95th anniversary.
Rob Draper, president of the dealership, said his family and O’Rielly employees are proud of the company’s history while business priorities remain on present and future performance.
“We bring our heritage and longevity into the mix as an indicator of our commitment to the community and the fact that we are going to be here – but we really have to be about how we serve people right now and coming down the road,” he said.
Remarkably, there have been only three leaders at the helm of the dealership over those 95+ years, all of whom represent three generations of the O’Rielly family: Frank O’Rielly, the company founder; his son, Richard “Buck” O’Rielly, a legendary businessman/civic leader/philanthropist; and Draper, son-in-law to Buck O’Rielly and husband to Amy O’Rielly Draper.
“Our history has been great and we have a lot people to thank for being in business for nearly 100 years – yet we are not looking back, but forward,” Draper said. “When we reach our 100-year milestone, I think a smart way to look at it is not as the close of a century of service, but as the beginning of our second hundred years. This is a vibrant, ever-changing business, so we should stop for a minute and celebrate our longtime loyal customers and a lot of hard work by our employees, and then roll up our sleeves and get to work.” O’Rielly Chevrolet remains one of the largest-volume Chevrolet dealers in the nation. Draper attributes that success to the dedication and longevity of its employees.
“In 2014, O’Rielly received the Tucson Metro Chamber’s Copper Cactus Award for being Tucson’s ‘Best Place to Work.’ I’m very proud of that award, more than any sales volume award or other recognition – because it shines the spotlight on the best part of our company – our loyal, talented team,” Draper said.
“We are firm believers in the idea that if you make your company a great place to work, employees will stay and excel at what they do, which will ensure that customers are satisfied and keep coming back – and that makes the whole thing sustainable over time,” he said. “Our 95th anniversary is therefore rightly a celebration of our people.”
Draper said he feels fortunate to be so closely connected to the entire history of the company’s ownership. “Almost any aspect of the company’s genetic makeup can be explored by speaking directly with Buck O’Rielly – or can be gleaned from what he conveys and has perpetuated through so many years regarding Frank O’Rielly’s vision.”
“There is an evolution going on in the marketplace toward crossovers and sport-utility type vehicles – and we expect that to continue,” he said. “Chevrolet will continue to be a pioneer in performance vehicles with the mid-engine Corvette and the next generation of Camaro.”
O’Rielly Chevrolet first opened in late March of 1924, which means the close of the 95th anniversary year will be the end of March 2020. Draper said it is likely the dealership will host one more anniversary sale in early 2020.