The Arnold Group of Companies
"You build a business with people, not with buildings of bricks and stone."
E.P. Arnold, Founder
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A True American Dream

E.P. Arnold, an accountant for a grocery warehouse, is asked by B.J. Lewis to audit his books. Recognizing the opportunity, Arnold takes $300 in savings and $200 borrowed from friends and forms a corporation with Lewis. They open their first store on Main St. (Grand Ave.) in Spencer, IA.
1/2 ton Chevy truck - $395
Sugar 15.5 lbs - $1.00
Kellogg's Corn Flakes - 2 boxes for 23¢
Lindburgh completes first trans-Atlantic flight
Stock market crash signals the start of the "Great Depression".
Machine shop operations begin with purchase of first Piston Grinder.
Hiring of the first two employees: a bookkeeper, Florence (Pullen) Rusch, and a salesman.
Quart of oil - 30¢
Folgers coffee - 42¢/lb
Automatic washing machine - $499.95
Peanut butter - 27¢ for 2 lbs.
First branch store opens in Marshall, MN.
Arnold buys out Lewis.
Spencer Main Street burns. First store and first Piston Grinder lost. Re-opens on 1st Ave West as Arnold Motor Supply.
As stores continue to open throughout the area, the new managers become partners in the company, as Mr. Arnold believes that people will work harder if they have a financial interest in the business.
Despite advice from bankers warning of the shaky retail environment, Arnold opens 3rd store in Sheldon.
National unemployment rate - 28%
Coffee - 30¢/lb
Sugar - 5 lbs for 33¢
Duroflo Motor Oil - 24¢/gallon
Kwik Stop Battery - $4.88
Store Manager's average annual income - $5,000
In the first year that machine shops sales are recorded separately, sales reach $19,000.
AMS now has 6 locations (adding Algona, Mason City, and Fairmont, MN). Each location operates a machine shop with: Van Norman-Piston Grinder, Brake Drum Lathe, Horizontal Surface Grinder, Valve Refacer, Sunnen Pin Hole Grinder, Brake Shoe Riveting Machine, Clutch Pressure Plate Rebuilder.
All cars were required to have sealed beam headlights.
Company receives priority rating from Washington D.C. to purchase a $10,000 Van Norman Crank Shaft Grinder and a $1,500 Van Norman Connecting Rod & Bearing Insert Grinder. While all local competitors sell their machines to defense contractors, Arnold chooses to keep his. AMS is the only business providing machine shop services within a 100-mile radius of Spencer. Lorol Cleghorn is hired to help run the new grinder which operates 20 hours a day, seven days a week.
End of WWII.
Korean War begins
Top salesmen and later top machine shop employees are invited to become partners.
The Chevrolet Corvette is introduced.
Interstate highway system is launched.
A 27,000 sq. ft. warehouse is built in Spencer. When government rules dictate the warehouse can not bear the same name as the stores, the new warehouse is named for Mr. Arnold's son, Merrill.
Stores 11 & 12 open in Oskaloosa and Storm Lake.
First U.S. manned orbit of the earth.
John F. Kennedy is assassinated.
The Ford Mustang is introduced.
All employees are invited to become partners for an initial investment of $500 or more. Everyone joins.
Gar Odor named General Manager of the company.
Armstrong walks on the moon.
36,000 sq. ft. warehouse is added in Marshalltown, IA.
1976 - 1978
18th store added in Worthington, MN.
Mr. Arnold and Merrill pass away.
The company responds to the changing business environment by joining the Auto Value Group.
The Chrysler Minivan is introduced.
Milo Allen named General Manager.
Ford F250 4x4 truck - $12,500
Loaf of Old Home Bread - 69¢
Company reaches into Illinois with a stand-alone PBE store.
IPS (Industrial Paint Solutions) is created.
Employee status is re-established.
New stores open in Sioux City, Eagle Grove, and Clarion.
New stores open in Pella and Marion.
We end a decade of tremendous growth by purchasing the Specialty Sales warehouse.
New stores open in Muscatine and Wilton.
Irene Arnold passes away at the age of 100.
Company is ranked 27th largest warehouse group by "Automotive Marketing."
Dennis Spooner named General Manager.
Our company has grown to include:
38 Arnold Motor Supply automotive parts stores; 4 Autorefinish Solutions locations in Iowa and Illinois; Industrial Paint Solutions locations in Spencer, IA and Omaha, NE; The Merrill Company auto parts warehouse in Spencer, Iowa; Specialty Sales Automotive Parts Warehouse in Omaha, NE; with 10 Auto Value Parts Stores in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.
Combined total of 186,000 sq. ft. in warehouse space.
Over 1,000,000 miles driven annually by warehouse trucks.



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