Roger’s Auto Parts a generational success

Laurel Valley contains history of Bayou Lafourche
February 24, 2015
Gulf Island’s tradition in excellence continues
February 24, 2015
Laurel Valley contains history of Bayou Lafourche
February 24, 2015
Gulf Island’s tradition in excellence continues
February 24, 2015

If you’re an industrial worker or a car enthusiast in the Bayou Region then you’ve come to know Rogers Auto Parts well.

The family-owned NAPA parts distributor has been in operation for more than 50 years and has stores in five locations today.

“Besides the automotive parts industry… We sell home generators, lawn and garden equipment, chain saws, string trimmers and portable generators. There’s very little that we do not sell,” said Craig Rogers, owner and the founder’s son. “We have a saying… You never say ‘no’ to nothing! We just don’t say ‘no.’”

Rogers Auto Parts serves the shipyard industry, marine fleets, trucking industry, agricultural industry and the technicians that service those industries.

“We’re not just tied into one industry,” Craig Rogers said. “We’re very diversified.”

Originally, Roger’s Auto Parts was Pope’s for Parts, owned by William “Bill” Pope. He had a number of parts stores stretching as far as Baton Rouge.

James Rogers began working at Pope’s Parts in Thibodaux in 1958 as a counter clerk. In 1959, Pope transferred James Rogers to his Lockport store as a manager.

Pope died in 1966. He had no children and wished for his store managers to buy their respective stores. After his death, his wife Katherine Pope handled the sales.

James Rogers partnered with Alfred Diez, the manager of the Thibodaux store, and Alfred Diez’s brother, Whitney Diez, to buy three stores located in Thibodaux, Lockport and Raceland. Alfred Diez and James Rogers bought Whitney Diez’s share of the business later on. Alfred Diez died about a year ago.

In the years that followed, they opened two more locations in Larose and Galliano.

In 1984, James Rogers and Alfred Diez exercised an agreement made with Katherine Pope and after over 50 years of being known as Pope’s for Parts, they changed the name to Rogers Auto Parts and ended their association with the Popes.

The Eighties were a difficult time for Rogers Auto Parts, Craig Rogers said. The recession years were “some tough years.”

“But we made it,” said Iona Rogers, James Rogers’ widow and the company treasurer. She attributes the company’s early success to her belated husband’s excellent customer service. James Rogers died in 2004.

“He loved it,” Iona Rogers said. “People liked him and he loved people. In fact, they still talk about him. They still miss him.”

Iona said James Rogers “always had a smile. He was a people person,” she said.

Rogers Auto Parts continued to expand, opening stores in Morgan City, Broussard and Labadieville. The store in Broussard closed, unfortunately, after the severe lull in the oil business due to the BP oil spill.

But Rogers Auto Parts is stronger now than ever before.

“We’ve had successful years back to back now,” Craig Rogers said.

“The last two years or so have probably been the busiest that it’s ever been, really,” said Ron Bailleaux, manager of the Larose store. Bailleaux has been working for Rogers Auto Parts for 31 years.

Rogers Auto Parts has a number of employees that have worked there for decades. Iona Rogers said that is because the Rogers treat them more like family than employees.

Craig Rogers said it is hard to find qualified workers these days because they have to compete with the oil and gas industry in the labor market.

Craig Rogers has three children, two daughters and one son. His daughters have their own careers separate from the auto parts company, but his son, Steven Rogers, 27, is a sales manager for three stores.

“He loves it,” Craig Rogers said. “He loves the business, he loves the customers, he loves dealing with the customers. He’s very much involved with the business.”

Craig Rogers hopes his son will take over the company when he retires.

Iona Rogers, who is past retirement age, still works with the company. She said, “I don’t plan on retiring because I’ll have nothing to do!”