Pursuit of Excellence Award: Recognizing Special Achievement

Pursuit of Excellence Award: Recognizing Special Achievement

This annual award is presented in recognition of excellence in business performance and the setting of high standards as an example for others to follow. Such performance may be related to innovative and successful methods of management, marketing, manufacturing or service. In addition, this award may be presented for exemplary volunteer or advocacy efforts made on behalf of the winner's company and/or industry. Award winners must be an AWDA member or employed by an AWDA member company.


the merrill company - arnold motor supply
Arnold Motor Supply

The Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA), a community of the Auto Care Association, presented its 2020 Pursuit of Excellence Award to The Merrill Company and Arnold Motor Supply. The award was presented on behalf of AWDA by Ryan Samuels, Vice-President, Samuels Inc. and Buy Wise Auto Parts, at the association's Virtual Annual Conference on November 16. Accepting the award for The Merrill Company was its Managing Director, Dennis Spooner.

Established in 1983, the Pursuit of Excellence Award is presented exclusively to AWDA member organizations or their employees for special achievement in areas of business management, marketing advocacy or service.

The Merrill Company and its parent, Arnold Motor Supply, got its start in Spencer, Iowa in 1927. Founder E.P. Arnold had witnessed firsthand the growth of the automobile industry and knew there would be a need to supply parts to the growing number of repair shops in the local communities across northwest Iowa. In 1960, The Merrill Company distribution center was added.

Since 1027, the company has grown to include 700 associates, serving 118 company and independent auto parts stores and more than 518 dedicated Certified Service Centers across five states. The Merrill Company and Arnold Motor Supply currently operate four distribution centers; 20 machine shops, 3 stand-alone paint, body and equipment locations; one auto refinish solutions and industrial paint solutions warehouse.

Kevin Judge, NTN Bearing Corp. said, "The Merrill Company is a shining example of maintaining high standards and achieving success. Its stakeholders in the company are truly dedicated to this pursuit of excellence in all facets of the business, both internally and externally."

Arnold Motor Supply and Merrill has a "grow your own" mentality that drives them to push the boundaries with their training and education offerings for associates and customers. The company puts its people first by investing in a variety of training and development resources, a training center equipped with a paint and blending room, under hood and undercar training, and refinish and industrial coatings application instructions; and much more.

"Their people are high-energy, quality bunch of people that represent the industry well. I am proud to see AWDA recognize The Merrill Company," said Fletcher Lord, Jr., Replacement Parts Inc.

Arnold Motor Supply is owned by 260 partners, a dozen of which are second or third generation owners. Even as the company expands and diversifies, they stay true to the mantra of its founder: "You don't build a business with buildings, brick, and stone. You build it with people."

John Washbish, Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, Inc. added, "To know Arnold Motor Supply and The Merrill Company is to know the excellent culture that they've developed. Each and every employee is constantly in pursuit of excellence. To Dennis Spooner and the entire team at Arnold Motor Supply, congratulations on winning the 2020 Pursuit of Excellence Award."

Previous Award Recipients
  • 2019 Young Auto Care Networking Group (YANG)
  • 2018 Tom Seboldt
  • 2017 Corey Bartlett
  • 2016 Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance
  • 2015 Wix Filters
  • 2014 Wilson McMillion
  • 2014 George Segal
  • 2013 John Bartlett, Jr.
  • 2012 Frank Frederick
  • 2011 Richard Beirne, MAAP
  • 2010 David Caracci
  • 2010 Brian Cruickshank, MAAP
  • 2009 Rusty Bishop
  • 2008 Dennis Welvaert
  • 2007 Jay Burkhart
  • 2006 Bill Schlatterer
  • 2005 Jerry McCabe
  • 2004 Rosemary Hall
  • 2003 Barbara Cunningham, Jim Eady
  • 2002 Jon Owens, AAP
  • 2002 Ken Mullen, AAP
  • 2001 Richard H. Morgan, AAP
  • 2000 Bill Dotson, AAP
  • 1999 John M. Riess
  • 1998 Standard Motor Products
  • 1997 Moog Automotive
    Chuck Udell, AAP
  • 1996 Dayco Products Inc.
  • 1995 Robert Egan, AAP
    Jack Creamer, AAP
  • 1994 A.E. Clevite Engine Parts
    The Gates Rubber Company
  • 1993 Triad Systems Corporation
  • 1992 John Castle
    Rosemary Hall
    Charles J. Monahan
  • 1991 Robert Miller
    Stephen C. Horn, AAP
  • 1990 Gus Carlson
    Richard D. Kudner
  • 1989 William Wade, AAP
  • 1988 Jack Heyler, Automotive Service Association
    Tenneco Automotive Wagner Division, Cooper Industries
  • 1987 S.R. "Dick" Downey
    Charles J. Monahan
    Robert H. Raff, MAAP
  • 1986 Jay L. Love
    N. Birnie Pryor
    Kenneth D. Walker, AAP
  • 1984 Worldparts Corporation
    Louis A. Zuanich, AAP
  • 1983 ACDelco, General Motors Corporation
    Federal-Mogul Corporation
  • 1982 Bank of America
    Ford Motor Company