JC Whitney Affiliate Program
JC Whitney Affiliate Program

The JC Whitney Story
How a 1915 scrap metal yard grew to the largest direct marketer of "everything automotive."

Chicago 1915. Henry Ford's Model T had been in mass production for only seven years, when a Lithuanian immigrant named Israel Warshawsky decided to climb on the running board of the emerging automotive industry. As cars began to break down, Israel saw an opportunity to mine replacement parts from derelict automobiles. He bought a piece of property on the city's south side at State Street and Archer Avenue and opened a scrap metal yard, The Warshawsky Company.

Industrial growth generated by World War I put the salvage business into high gear. Soon, the demand for auto parts outstripped the supply of derelict cars. Israel began buying up failed auto manufacturers and added new parts to his inventory. To welcome more customers, Israel added a retail store.

The Warshawsky Company grew right through the Great Depression, when few people could afford new cars or even new parts. By 1934, the company had a larger store and a successful wholesale catalog distributed exclusively through Chicago-area gas stations and mechanics. It also had a new employee with bright, new ideas: Israel's son, Roy Warshawsky.

Roy joined his father just after graduating from the University of Chicago and proposed a consumer catalog to make products available nationwide. Roy placed a $60 ad in Popular Mechanics and invited readers to send in 25 cents for a "giant auto parts catalog." The ad produced a flood of response and the JC Whitney Catalog was on its way to becoming the do-it-yourselfer's favorite best seller.

When Israel died in 1943, leadership of the company passed to Roy. As a second world war cut back the supply of civilian goods, the demand for auto parts soared. By 1947, the retail store occupied an entire city block at 1900-1924 South State Street. The Warshawsky Company retail outlet was now the biggest automotive department store in the world -- "everything automotive."

The post-war Baby Boom years spurred more growth on the catalog side of the business. The consumer catalog broke 100 pages, moved to 24-hour ordering and spawned a series of specialty catalogs targeted to key market segments.

Like his father, Roy developed new strategies to respond to changing customer needs. When Roy saw a need for products that didn't exist, he contracted manufacturers to produce them. As consumer auto shows became more popular, Roy initiated a cooperative effort among retailers and manufacturers to make it easier for consumers to purchase independent aftermarket products. That effort led to the formation of the Automotive Parts & Accessories Association in 1967 and the election of Roy Warshawsky as its first president.

Roy retired in 1991. To this day, the company proudly maintains it's dedication to customer satisfaction, a vision started by Israel and Roy Warshawsky over 90 years ago.

The year 1997 brought the sad news of Roy Warshawsky's passing. It also brought new accomplishments that Roy would applaud. To step up service to all of its customers, the company built a new 348,000 square-foot Operations Center in La Salle, Illinois. This state-of-the-art facility puts the power and efficiency of new technology behind the efforts of a growing staff. And to make JC Whitney more accessible to computer users, the company opened a site on the World Wide Web.

Today, more than 90 years since Israel Warshawsky began recycling used auto parts, the Warshawsky/JC Whitney Company is the largest direct marketer of auto parts and accessories. Through a growing family of catalogs, http://www.jcwhitney.com and a new outlet store, millions of customers have easy access to "everything automotive."

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