O'Reilly Auto Parts

O’Reilly Auto Parts was awarded the 2019 New Business of the Year by the Greater American Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. Pictured, from left, are employees Kathy Hernandez, Jose Gonzalez, manager Scott Lough, Alan Miller and Gary Chaney.

AMERICAN FALLS — After opening its doors in late 2018, O’Reilly Auto Parts has started to plant itself as a budding new business in the community, as evident by being presented the 2019 New Business of the Year Award by the Greater American Falls Area Chamber of Commerce on March 5.

The auto parts store, which opened in November 2018, is one of over 5,000 stores scattered across the United States, but the focus for American Falls’ store is very much community-based.

“We try to do a lot of donations,” said Scott Lough, manager of the store. “Bingham Co-op had a dinner auction which they had to cancel (due to the quarantine), but O’Reilly’s had donated a tool kit to auction off. We also donate to the rodeo club at the high school. When folks need sponsors for something, we try and sponsor things like that.”

He said they are also interested in being involved with the Music in the Park program, among other things.

“Last year, we used up our marketing budget quickly because we were new, but this year we want to do more things such as sponsoring sports at the high school,” he said.

Lough has also experienced O’Reilly’s family and community-oriented culture first-hand. When his wife’s brother and father passed away, she received care packages from the O’Reilly district manager that included a book on how to cope for the first year. He also took two weeks off during that time to help support her, which meant he had to miss a company meeting that he already had a ticket to and a hotel room booked for.

“I want to thank my amazing team members who were willing to cover me as I was gone for those two weeks,” he said.

Lough has eight years of experience working for O’Reilly at several other locations in several other positions. He also spent 14 years at a dealership in Idaho Falls as a parts manager, which he says has given him the experience he needs to be able to manage the American Falls store.

“The biggest challenge in small communities is you have to be patient with customers wanting to give you a chance,” he said. “With two competitors here and both competitors being here longer than we have … they have a lot of loyalty from the people in the community. The biggest challenge has been gaining people’s trust and as soon as they give us a try, I won’t say we have them hooked, but they get to experience a service level they don’t experience at the other stores, because that’s what O’Reilly was founded on.”

Lough says at O’Reilly they have a policy to never say no. This has extended to helping a commercial customer provide a PlayStation for his children for Christmas, as well as helping customers track down hard-to-find parts for old cars.

“With those hard-to-find things, it doesn’t matter what it is, we just go out of our way and try not to say no to people,” he said. “We just make sure they have what they need.”

It is this devotion to customers and team members that Lough finds to be a solid strength of O’Reilly’s stores.

“One of my favorite things about working for O’Reilly is the culture,” he said. “Everyone is all about taking care of the customers and the team members. … I’ve met the CEO on several occasions, and he’s so down to earth, and it’s nice to see someone from the top being as humble as someone on the lower levels.”

While many business owners have closed their stores to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Lough said that auto parts stores are considered essential as people need reliable and working transportation to get to medical centers and grocery stores. As such, O’Reilly will remain open during quarantine time unless something unforeseen pops up in the future.

In anticipation of this, they are doubling down on health precautions with thorough and frequent cleaning procedures to keep both team members and customers safe and healthy.

“Overall this year, the store is doing better than the previous year,” Lough said. “We are lucky to be in such an amazing community.”

O’Reilly is located at 2832 Pocatello Ave. in American Falls and is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.