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The Origin of Smith Auto
Smith Auto Parts is proud member of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, serving customers in the south San Joaquin valley of central California.
Smith Auto Parts was started in Dinuba California 1933 by Elmer Smith. At the tender age of eighteen Elmer was the sole supporter of his entire family. He worked in the fields picking fruit, cutting fire wood or doing any odd job he could find to make ends meet.
While hauling wood in his model “T” truck Elmer blew the head gasket. He didn’t want to go to the dealer and buy a new one. That was too expensive. The only other auto parts store Elmer knew of was a wrecker. It was a one room, one window, dirt floor building in downtown Dinuba.
When Elmer arrived at the store the owner and the landlord were having words. Being a man who would rather drink than work, the owner had fallen behind on the rent and the landlord was there to evict him. Several customers witnessed the event. After the eviction was completed the landlord turned to all who were still present and stated that the business was for sale and that the asking price was one months rent.
After no one had spoken up and everyone had left, Elmer approached the landlord and asked how much one months rent was? “Fifteen dollars” the landlord said, “And that price includes everything in the store and the cars out back”. Fifteen dollars was a lot of money in 33, especially for an eighteen year old. Having just sold all of his wood, Elmer reached into his pocket, handed over the cash and started his new career!
Smith Auto grew steadily until the outbreak of WWII. Elmer joined the U.S. Army and served our county for four years. He returned to Dinuba after the war and restarted the business in 1945. By 1965 SAP had grown with the aftermarket to three full service jobber stores and machine shops. In 1982 Elmer sold the business to Ron Cochran, an employee of Smith Auto since 1951.
In the mid fifties SAP started buying hard part lines direct for the machine shops, becoming “a chicken wire warehouse”. By the mid 80s SAP had become a true “two stepper”, warehousing all lines for our company stores. Today SAP serves over one hundred communities in our marketing area with over 150 employees, one warehouse, six company stores, and three complete machine shops.