The Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA), a community of the Auto Care Association, presented its 2018 Martin Fromm Lifetime Achievement Award to Greg Henslee, executive vice chairman of the board for O’Reilly Automotive, Inc., on Oct. 28 at its 2018 annual conference in Las Vegas. Presenting the award was AWDA’s current Chairman of the Board of Governors, Bobby Segal, Sanel NAPA.
The Martin Fromm Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals who have, over the course of many years, distinguished themselves through their unselfish commitment to, and high level of performance within, the motor vehicle aftermarket industry.
Henslee’s entire working career has been devoted to the automotive aftermarket culminating with a 13-year stint as O’Reilly’s Chief Executive Officer.
Henslee began his automotive career 39 years ago as a service advisor and assistant service manager at a General Motors dealership in Springfield, Mo. He later joined Montgomery Ward in their automotive service center in Springfield. In this capacity, he was a customer of O’Reilly Auto Parts, and desiring to join a locally owned business, he made the decision to start a career at the growing chain of auto parts stores in 1984.
Starting as a parts specialist at the original O’Reilly store in Springfield, Mo., Henslee was promoted to assistant store manager then district manager before moving into a corporate position as computer operations manager, and later to director of computer operations/loss prevention. In 1995, he was promoted to vice president of store operations and in 1998, senior vice president for information systems, inventory control, customer service, computer operations, pricing and loss prevention.
In 1999, Henslee was promoted to co-president, managing a company that had grown to 500 stores and six distribution centers. By 2005, O’Reilly counted 1,470 locations with annual sales of $2.05 billion, at which time Henlsee was named CEO and co-president.
Henslee was a key contributor to O’Reilly’s rapid growth through acquisitions in the late 90s and 2000s, including Hi/LO Auto Supply in Houston, Texas in 1998, Mid-State Automotive Distributors Inc., headquartered in Nashville, Tenn. in 2001 and CSK Auto Corporation in 2008, the largest and most complex acquisition to date.
In 2012, Henslee assumed the role of president and CEO of O’Reilly Automotive, Inc., now leading a company with more than 49,000 team members, 23 distribution centers and 3,613 stores in 39 states.
“Greg is one of the few persons I’ve met in the industry who knows everything from specific part details and how to repair vehicles, to the big strategic issues impacting the whole industry,” said Odd Joegerund, BBB Industries.
“It gives him a lot of credibility to be able to say, ‘Look, I’ve done all the different things throughout the different ranks in this organization, so I know what the challenges are at every level,’” said Nathan Shipley, NPD Group.
In 2017, Henslee announced he was stepping down as CEO and into the role of executive vice chairman of the board. At that year’s O’Reilly Managers’ Conference, Henslee was recognized with the top company honor, the Charlie O’Reilly Leadership Award.
“Greg never changed,” said Tom Seboldt, vice president of merchandise, O’Reilly Auto Parts. “From the time he was an assistant manager to what he is today, he’s always been driven, always wanted to succeed and always wanted O’Reilly to succeed. He's been a fantastic mentor to so many at the company. It’s beyond measure what Greg Henslee has meant to O’Reilly Auto Parts.”