Baxter buys two Madras auto parts stores
Two family-owned Madras auto parts stores both sold to another, much bigger family-owned auto parts business.
The DeJarnatt family has owned Madras Auto Parts since 1955. Less than a block away David Chapanar has owned Chappy's Auto Parts since 1998.
They both sold, Chapanar in October, DeJarnatt in December, to Baxter Auto Parts, also a family-owned business with much longer history and much larger holdings.
Ray and Wilma Baxter opened their first auto parts store in 1936 in Chehalis Washington. The family still runs the company which now has 35 locations in Oregon, Washington, and Northern California.
Madras Auto Parts
George DeJarnatt bought Madras Auto Parts in 1955. People describe George as charismatic and outgoing. Before he entered World War II, George DeJarnatt played in a band with Doc Severinsen of Tonight Show fame.
The youngest of four siblings, Cory remembers his dad as an integral part of the community. "He supported so many clubs and organizations. He supported the high schools, football, we've been one of the main supporters of all these associations in Madras and Jefferson County."
Cory bought the store from his father in 1989. Over those 67 years, the company has seen a lot of changes.
Willow Creek overflowed its banks four times to flood their store.
Madras has grown
"Madras used to end at Sonny's Restaurant and Motel (now Motel 6 and Antojitos)," says DeJarnatt. "On the north end the town stopped at Ahern's."
Industry, like Bright Wood and Keith Manufacturing, moved in.
The original store grew too, from 2,500 square feet to 5,000 square feet.
And the competition grew. Madras went from two auto parts stores to five.
"To be honest with you, there's an overabundance of parts stores," says DeJarnatt. "That's a lot of stores for a small community like this."
He will miss the people. "It's been good. I've been here all my life," he says. "I've enjoyed all the relationships I've built over the years with our wide and diverse customer base."
Baxter Auto Parts may change the name, but DeJarnatt trusts the new owners will carry on the spirit of the store. "They want to maintain the great relationship we've had for all these years. They've told us they want to maintain business as usual."
Chappy's Auto Parts
Dave Chapanar bought R & S Auto Parts in 1998 and changed the name to Chappy's.
"When I bought the store it had a small inventory," says Chapanar. "We grew it substantially in inventory and volume over the 23 years with a lot of hard work and a lot of good customers."
The manager, Andy Reese, came as part of the package then and he remains the manager now under the new owners. "Everybody knows Andy," says Chapanar, who thinks Reese's experience and reputation made the store attractive to the buyers.
Reese says things haven't changed under the new owners, and Chapanar expects service will remain much the same. "I felt like I was selling to a family operation."
Chapanar says many people became more friends than customers over the years and sometimes feels like there's some unfinished business. "I didn't get to thank them for all the years of patronage and support and hope they continue to support the store."
Chapanar speculates Baxter will consolidate the stores under one roof at some point.
"His (DeJarnatt's)customer base was more wholesale: farmers, the school district, and the mill," says Chapanar. "Our biggest base was retail and repair shops in town. The combination should be pretty good."
For a while at least they expect Baxter to allow the shops to operate separately.
DeJarnatt will stay on as a consultant for Madras Auto Parts until March 5. He plans to keep the machine shop portion of the store open for business and keep himself busy with a part-time job.
Chapanar and his wife Cathy have eight grandchildren to visit, and he expects to do some construction work on the side as well.
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