Loyd Pyle, who founded ABC Auto Parts in 1968 in Longview, was remembered this week as a kind man whose ambition was for his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to succeed.
Mitzi Easley, who began working for ABC in 1981 as a delivery driver at the store on Cotton and High streets, said Pyle — who died Tuesday at age 92 — provided encouragement when few women worked in the business.
“When he came to the store where I was, he always would make a point to speak to me, shake my hand,” said Easley, who works in commercial sales at an ABC store in Tyler. When she left to work for a competitor, she recalled he approached her, hugged her and offered to rehire her, she said.
“The whole family was very supportive,” Easley said.
Pyle also left a positive impression on Dan Lake, who got to know him after Pyle bought Reliable Auto Supply on Cotton Street in 1976.
Lake left after two years to work for a car dealership and now sells parts at Pegues Hurst Ford, but he said he maintained his friendship with Pyle after four decades and became a customer as well.
Lake said he remembers Pyle for his honesty and integrity.
“He hired the best people,” Lake recalled. “The people he hired really taught me a lot in those two years.”
Pyle enjoyed a successful career as owner and founder of ABC Auto Parts, ABC Auto Glass and AP&G Sales, said his son, Larry Pyle, now president of ABC.
Pyle grew up in West Mountain in Upshur County and attended Union Grove High School, where he excelled in sports and band, his son said.
He entered the auto parts business after an oilfield accident in 1946 while working as a roughneck, according to Larry Pyle.
He started ABC in 1968 after forming a partnership with his brother-in-law L.E. Rutledge, and bought Standard Auto Supply on West Loop 281.
The company prospered, and a year later, Pyle formed AP&G Sales, which stood for Auto Parts and Glass, a wholesale distributor. The new company was in back of a building on Old McCann Road and West Marshall Avenue.
The second ABC Auto Parts store opened in front, and ABC Auto Glass began at the same time next to the main building.
Pyle opened the third ABC store in 1976 after buying Reliable Auto Supply. AP&G quickly outgrew the building on Marshall and moved in 1974 to a new warehouse on Northcutt Street.
He bought the ownership interest from his partners in 1979 and became the sole owner, but later named his three children, Larry and Ron Pyle and daughter Karen Cloud, as co-owners.
The company outgrew its space by 1984, and on a few blocks to the west built a 61,000-square-foot building that housed a retail store, distribution center and glass shop. The building expanded to 85,000 square feet in 2001 and serves as the primary location for the company.
In 1988, Pyle retired from the auto parts business, started L&M Quarter Horses, and began breeding and raising quarter horses and cattle.
Pyle was a “very ambitious man, but his ambition was for his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to succeed and be happy,” son Larry said.
His ABC empire now is owned by his three children and grandsons Greg and Justin Smith and Dereck and Bryan Pyle.
The company that started with one store and one employee has grown to 25 stores and almost 400 employees. Five new store buildings are either under construction or being planned.
The Longview Chamber of Commerce named ABC the city’s Large Business of 2011.
Loyd Pyle was married for 54 years to his wife, Marie, and married Carolyn Dauphin Pyle after Marie passed away. He had four children, nine grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.
Pyle was preceded in death by his first wife, son Ricky Dale Pyle and grandson Chase Samuel Pyle.
A celebration of life was held Thursday afternoon at Pine Tree Church of Christ, followed by interment at West Mountain Cemetery under the direction of Rader Funeral Home of Longview.
A memorial guest book may be signed at www.raderfh.com.