After 58 years in business, family-owned Hennessey Auto Supply Inc. has sold, allowing Alyce and Mark Bregenzer to retire. For many in the community, and often from surrounding communities, the store was a Main Street fixture for generations, providing reliable service for all customers.
Lewis and Alyce Bregenzer opened their original auto parts store in April 1965 across the street to the west of it’s current location. Lewis Bregenzer’s first introduction into the auto parts business was as parts manager for Willard Watson Chevrolet in Hennessey. Then during his service in the Korean Conflict he also served in the U.S. Army motorpool. Upon his return home he took a job as parts manager for a Chevrolet dealership in Weatherford, OK. When things got slow there, Lewis took a voluntary layoff and moved to Enid where he took a job at Humphrey Chevrolet (now Northcutt Chevrolet) as parts manager. While there, he met and married his wife Alyce, who was the cashier.
It was1965 when the Bregenzers came back to Hennessey and opened their own parts store across the street from where the current building is located.
In 1971 the Bregenzers had the opportunity to purchase the current building, previously known as the Watson Chevrolet building. Lewis remained active in the business until 2015 when he retired at the age of 87.
Alyce Bregenzer has served for the entirety of the 58 years as secretary and bookkeeper for the business. Many things have changed through the years where the bookkeeping has been concerned as well. Making the transfer from hand-done card files to full-on computer inventory management has been a challenge. But through it all Alyce has maintained her double entry bookkeeping system. There has never been any question as to who kept things “balanced” at Hennessey Auto Supply.
Mark said, “For me, it started in about 3rd grade when I used to ride my bike here, lean it against the wall and go to work. In about 6th grade, instead of going to the pool in the summer, I came to work full-time. I’ve been here ever since.” Upon graduating from high school in 1976 Mark has been a full-time fixture at Hennessey Auto Supply.
Hennessey Auto has always been good at dealing with the oddball stuff. Mark said, “I hate telling people no. We try to find it or figure it out. Although everything is now on computers, we still have dozens of old-school parts books to look up things if needed. It’s kind of a lost art. Lately, the challenges have been getting parts. It used to be, you ordered the part and got the part. Now you never know if or when you will get it. Costs have escalated, and a normal price increase used to be 2 or 3%. Now it isn’t uncommon to see a 10 to 30% price increase overnight.”
Mark said, “The list of people that have worked here is too long to say. Our current employees, are Linda Pribyl and Curtis Best. Linda is retiring after having been here for 16 years and Curtis, who has been here for 11 years, will stay and work with the new owner.” Mark, got emotional saying, “I have a lot of dads in this town. They all have seen me grow up here, I’m going to miss the people.”
The sale of the business was completed making the Bregenzer’s last day Friday, March 31st. The new owners Landon and Emily Harak, and Colby and Destinie Robertson reopened the store on Saturday, April 1st. Landon and Emily Harak also recently purchased Eagle Auto Supply when its owners retired. The two couples also own R and H Trucks and Autos in Hennessey.
When asked what are you going to do now?, Mark said, “To start, I will do a whole lot of nothing, but I will quickly get bored. I want to spend time with family and I’m a tinkerer so I have some projects I want to do.”
Hennessey Auto Supply….the building, the people, the business…is very near and dear to the hearts of the Bregenzer family. It will be missed in so many ways.
On Friday, Mark’s sister Patti Jones posted on her Facebook page. “Today is bittersweet. It’s the end of an era for the Bregenzer family. Dad opened the store the first business day of April 1965 and today, March 31, 2023, is the last day of ownership. Thank you, Hennessey, for 58 years of support! We bless those who are carrying it forward!!!”