Running a Shop Finance Shop Customers Leadership Tools Operations Technology Sales+Marketing Education+Training

Building Business with People

Order Reprints

What does it take to gain a competitive edge?

Is it found in the ledger? Maybe—Henry Ford said, “Competition is the keen cutting edge of business, always shaving away at costs.” That’s good advice.

Is it found on the arena floor, facing your rivals down every night? Could be—Michael Jordan said, “You [compete] every day because you set such high standards for yourself that you have to go out every day and live up to that.” That’s also good advice.

What if it’s easier than that, though? What if, each and every morning, you didn’t have to go it alone, Air-Jordan–style? What if, each and every night, you didn’t pour over the books, shaving a nickel here, a dime there?

What if you could build your business with people, instead of buildings of brick and stone?

That was the philosophy of E.P. Arnold when he founded Arnold Motor Supply (AMS) almost 100 years ago, and his legacy and commitment to people has endured. As his namesake company approaches the century mark, there is much to celebrate.

“You’re not just coming to work,” says Terry Hammer, Vice President at the Arnold Group of Companies, “you’re a part of something.”



More Than a Store

Arnold Motor Supply is headquartered in Spencer, Iowa, at a 150,000-square-foot building adjacent to an 18,000-square-foot warehouse. It is one of 5 divisions of The Arnold Group of Companies, including Auto Value Parts Stores, Industrial Paint Solutions, Auto Refinish Solutions, Midwest Cylinder Head and Machine, Specialty Sales of Omaha, and The Merrill Company. While not every division may be as well-known as AMS, the breadth of goods and services we collectively offers shop owners is a undeniable.

“Everyone says they’re a one-stop shop, but we can really do it,” says Hammer.

At AMS, shops can get the parts needed to fix their customers’ vehicles on both the repair and collision repair sides. AMS partners with PPG, AkzoNobel and BASF, as well as 3M, Evercoat, Meguiar’s and more.

But that’s not what sets AMS apart—not really. For that, look to the people.

Arnold Motor Supply is comprised of roughly 700 real-world parts professionals, sales reps, delivery drivers, distribution specialists, managers who carry out the AMS experience across 65 locations in the Midwest.

“Everything is relationship-based, whether it’s customers or our team members,” Hammer says.

It’s that relationship that sets us apart. Our promise to deliver excellence in service to the customer, to the industry and community is a constant in each and every interaction with our stores and team members.

“We’ll give you the tools to make you successful,” Hammer says.

From shop management to paint matching, tools to increase KPIs and decrease cycle time, AMS hangs its hat on keeping shops efficient and effective.

“We’re big enough to be on the map, but it’s not a corporate atmosphere,” Hammer says.


Products, Services, Resources & More

Some of the resources AMS provides include (but are not limited to):


  • Paint Booth Consultation: From economy to luxury, simple to sophisticated, AMS can help guide you to the perfect booth for your shop and even provide financing advice.

  • Total Repair Partner: AMS provides the equipment, tools, collision assemblies and hard parts necessary to get your customers’ vehicles back on the road, working with brands such as Global Finishing Solutions, Chief, Innovative Tools, SATA, 3M, PPG, BASF, AkzoNobel and more.

  • Service After the Sale: AMS offers a variety of programs from site visits to booth cleaning to fit your business’s need.

  • Inventory: AMS can custom-design an inventory of products that make sense for your shop. From PPG, BASF and AkzoNobel coatings to 3M supplies and booth filters with weekly replenishing and quick delivery.

  • Technical & Management Training: AMS offers many paint booth and equipment training, certification, and recertification classes to keep your techs at the forefront of the industry. With management training, take advantage of estimating clinics to get the information you need to know and maximize profitability.


That’s all well and good, but it’s the personal touch that impacts the people, businesses and communities that AMS is proud to service.

“The impact we can make with the relationship is everything. Someone needs paint at 8 p.m., we’ll go get it; a car breaks down at 4 a.m., we’ll get the parts where they need to be. We’re all in. You need something after hours? We’ll have your back,” he says.

No matter how you cut it, AMS is there for its customers, community and channel partners.

Maybe another Iowa boy said it best: “I suppose my best attribute—if you want to call it that—is sincerity. I can sell sincerity because that’s the way I am.”

That was John Wayne (born Marion Robert Morrison), who was born in Winterset, Iowa, not 20 miles from the nearest Arnold Motor Supply. Wayne had a lot of great quotes we might attribute to the Arnold mindset—”Don’t much like quitters, son,” comes to mind—but that’s something AMS customers don’t need to worry about.

Because the people who provide the services of Arnold Motor Supply—paint, industrial, automotive, collision repair, and more—will never stop working for you.

Learn more at and

Related Articles

Lean as Business-Building Strategy

CARSTAR to Hold ‘Business-Building’ Event in Tampa

You must login or register in order to post a comment.