By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on May 2, 2014
Genuine Parts Co. is considering moving from its current corporate headquarters located next door to the site of the new Braves stadium.
The Fortune 500 company, and Braves partner, best known for its NAPA auto parts stores, has had its headquarters at 2999 Circle 75 Parkway in Cobb County since 1979.
“We haven’t made a decision one way or another,” said Thomas Gallagher, chairman and CEO. “We are looking at several options. We have the option of staying right here, which we may do. We have the option of going to Wildwood. There are also some options outside of Cobb County.”
Genuine Parts does have a secondary campus in the nearby Wildwood development on the other side of Interstate 75.
“We want to make the best decision for our people,” said Gallagher, adding that the company is looking at both existing buildings and new construction. “We would not be a co-tenant. Whatever we do, we will own it. It will be just for us.”
Genuine Parts’ current home is a three-story building tucked away in the wooded area that houses about 300 employees.
“By the time we get into the fall, we should know what we’re going to do,” Gallagher said. “The Braves have been terrific. They know we may stay or relocate. They also know we have to make the decision that works best for us.”
“We have a fantastic relationship with NAPA that goes back many, many years with their Braves partnership,” she wrote in an email. “We feel it’s important to let them and all of our other new neighbors know what’s going on, and we will continue to communicate during all of the phases of the ballpark and mixed-use development progress.”
Genuine Parts President Paul Donahue said the company is going through a formal review process to decide what to do.
Wilton Looney, who was CEO of Genuine Parts from 1961 to 1990, was running the company in 1979 when it moved from Piedmont Avenue downtown to a then-largely undeveloped Cobb County. Looney, 95, said he has particularly enjoyed the quiet surroundings of the property.
He seemed less than enthusiastic about having the Braves as a neighbor.
“We have been very happy there. It’s such a pretty place,” Looney said. “Strictly speaking for myself, it’s going to be a problem for us. They are going to be building a lot of parking right across the street from us. There’s going to be a lot of traffic in the afternoon when they’re having ballgames. It won’t be as quiet. Speaking for myself, I think what’s going to happen out there will make it not nearly as pleasant for us.” That said, Looney added that the “Braves have been as helpful as they could be but they have to look out for themselves.”
Gallagher said it is a matter of weighing the pluses and minuses. “We are all working to figure out the best solution,” Gallagher said, and then he jokingly offered an idea. “Maybe we could build some scaffolding and put up a big NAPA sign on top of it and watch the Braves games from there.”