2017-06-18 / Insight

Dodges Auto Parts celebrates 90 years of family operation

Anniversary includes fundraiser to support Ed-Tech program
BY NICHOLAS PUGLIESE
810-452-2601 • npugliese@mihomepaper.com


The current generation of Dodges Auto Parts (from left) — Bob Owen, Jon Sanday, Pat Dodge, Adam Miller, Mikey Smith and Ken Hand — continue the history of the 90-year business and are excited for the chance to raise funds for young people in Ed-Tech’s Auto Mechanics Program. 
Photo by Nicholas Pugliese The current generation of Dodges Auto Parts (from left) — Bob Owen, Jon Sanday, Pat Dodge, Adam Miller, Mikey Smith and Ken Hand — continue the history of the 90-year business and are excited for the chance to raise funds for young people in Ed-Tech’s Auto Mechanics Program. Photo by Nicholas Pugliese IMLAY CITY — In 1927, if you had a problem with your car — likely a Ford Model A or a Studebaker Commander — you’d look for a Dodges Auto Parts sign, started and operated by Charles S Dodge.

Prior to 1970, if your automobile was having mobility issues, you’d pull it into an old farmhouse on 145 Grove Avenue in Imlay City, home of Harold and Donna Dodge. You’d walk into the garage and press a button, which would ring an alarm in the house. A fire alarm, in fact, so loud anyone could hear it in any room of the house. Moments later, Donna, of Dodges Auto Parts would arrive to sell whichever part your car needed while Harold was on the road picking up parts deliveries to keep the family business stocked.


Dodges Auto Cedar Parts Street relocated in 1970 to 320 after South acquired an old Harold Pontiac Dodge dealership. Dodges Auto Cedar Parts Street relocated in 1970 to 320 after South acquired an old Harold Pontiac Dodge dealership. Now, no matter how advanced the parts get, you can still buy them at Dodges.

“I feel like I have my grandpa on one side and my father on the other,” joked Pat Dodge, current owner of Dodges Auto Parts in Imlay City. Pat Dodge is the third generation of Dodges to operate the NAPA-affiliated auto parts store. Dodges Auto Parts is the oldest NAPA-affiliated store in the country and is celebrating its 90th year of continuous, family-owned business.

Before the store moved into its current location at 320 South Cedar Street in Imlay City, the Dodges sold car parts from their home, and Pat Dodge remembers growing up in the family business fondly. “It was our home and my father ran the business out of that, and he would travel all over the thumb,” said Dodge. “My mom would sell the parts, and she was a real parts person too.”


memories Pat Dodge recalled happy of accompanying his father Harold to Detroit on Saturdays to pick up new inventory. memories Pat Dodge recalled happy of accompanying his father Harold to Detroit on Saturdays to pick up new inventory. Pat recalled that as a child, one of the highlights growing up was tagging along with his father on trips to Detroit to pick up new inventory. “It was a big deal for us kids getting to go with him,” said Pat. “We’d have lunch at McDonalds across from the old tank yard and watch the tanks drive by.” Pat said he and his siblings — including his brother Michael Dodge, who also operated Dodges Auto Parts for a time — would take turns accompanying their father on the weekend trips.

Pat’s father, Harold Dodge, might be a name Imlay City residents recognize. Harold served as a U.S. Merchant Marine in World War II and was Imlay City’s assistant fire chief for a time. He also served as a city and county commissioner and was the Imlay City Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 1997.


Second generation owner Pat’s owners parents, and current Dodge sold Harold assorted and Donna their garage NAPA until car moving parts from their current location the business in 1970. to Second generation owner Pat’s owners parents, and current Dodge sold Harold assorted and Donna their garage NAPA until car moving parts from their current location the business in 1970. to “We came across an old ledger that had records dating back to the start,” said Pat. “Back then, a set of wiper blades sold for 15 cents.” Some things have certainly changed since the business was started by Charles Dodge in 1927. In 1970, the business moved into an old Pontiac dealership on M-53, where it remains today. “I credit my father for a lot of foresight, as far as the business goes,” Pat said. “Moving to M-53 was huge for the business.”

To commemorate the first 90 years of Dodges Auto Parts, Pat and his crew are holding a public celebration on June 24 from noon to 2 p.m. And to thank the community for helping the Dodges stay in business for 90 years, the celebration will include a fundraiser, the proceeds of which will go to the Lapeer Education Technology Center’s Automotive Mechanics program. “We wanted to give back and help kids that are going into automotive,” said Pat. “The money will help them buy new computers and sensors that they need.”

For every dollar donated by a guest, he or she will be entered to win one of three prizes — a Blue Ridge Mountain Smoker, NAPA 80L Roto Molded Cooler or NAPA Stainless Steel Can Koozies. Also, the total amount of money raised will be matched by Dodges Auto Parts. The public can visit the Imlay City location at 320 South Cedar St. in Imlay City to make donations and can call 810-724-6305 for more information.

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