June 13, 2016

Edwin G. Thirlby 



The Michigan Automotive Parts Association is pleased to announce the selection of Edwin G. Thirlby, Sr., founder of Thirlby Automotive in Traverse City, Michigan as its 2016 MAPA Lifetime Service Award.


Thirlby Automotive was born out of the trunk of a car loaded with car polish. In 1956 at age 17, Edwin G. Thirlby (company founder) drove around the area giving demonstrations and taking orders for car polish at the local gas stations. After graduating high school, he married Beverly in 1958 and added other related products to his inventory and expanded his sales route to include a 70 mile radius of Traverse City. In 1959 his sales grew and became a full time job. He and Beverly bought a small house in Traverse City, the garage was used as a "warehouse" storing automotive related items. In 1963 their first "real" store opened and Thirlby Automotive was born. During the next 32 years five branch store locations were added throughout Northern Michigan. Ed's son, Eddie, and daughter Julie Strait opened four additional locations as they took over total control of the operations in 1995. Ed has since retired, however he remains an "administrative consultant" to the company when needed.


Today, Thirlby Automotive's nine locations represent one of the largest independently owned groups of jobber stores in the state of Michigan. In this age of "big box stores" and huge corporate discount chain stores, Thirlby Automotive is proud to remain a locally owned and family operated company. Through hard work, sacrifice, and dedication, the company continues to grow and remains committed to excellence while serving the communities of Northern Michigan.


The award will be presented during MAPA Industry Day 2016 being held on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at the Holiday Inn Gateway Centre in Flint, Michigan by Tim Mulcaster of Auto-Wares Group of Companies.


Created in 2010, the MAPA Lifetime Service Award is presented to an individual by the association. It is designed to honor the excellence of individuals in the industry who have made significant impacts in the industry and/or the association.Qualifying criteria for consideration of MAPA's Lifetime Service Award is recipient must be a Michigan based company, have or have had an extensive career in the automotive aftermarket industry, contributed significantly to the automotive aftermarket industry, and to their local community. Previous recipients include; Sam Rogers of Parts Warehouse Company, Bay City, Michigan, Al Blanchard, former owner of Mid-5 Auto Supply, Livonia, Michigan, Barry Hill of Auto-Wares Group of Companies, Grand Rapids, Michigan and Roy Rosquin (Posthumously), former owner of Marlette Auto Parts, Inc., Marlette, Michigan.

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