Hitchcock's Auto Parts has been serving the community for 100 years, becoming one of the longest-running businesses in Kern County. Founded by Charles Hitchcock in 1923, the business has kept customer service at the forefront of its mission.
According to owner Jesse Escobedo, this is one of the main components of the success of the business. "We treat our customers with respect and consider them family. Chuck Hitchcock always said, which was on the letterhead for a long time, that, 'Every time we make a friend, we grow a little,' and that has always stuck with me."
Escobedo said that in a lot of cases, he has five generations of customers from some families. "I get so many times someone coming in and saying," I remember when I was a kid, you use to give me some M&Ms out of the machine while my dad got parts." Escobedo said that this is just one part of the history of the business that makes it and the city so special. "The community has given us so much, and we love to give back to the community. We just love this town."
One of the few businesses that thrived through the pandemic, the store has seen the business keep growing. "I think that a lot of people were hanging on to their vehicles during the pandemic, choosing to fix them up instead of selling or buying a new one. " Currently, Escobeddo said that they get about 50% of their business from auto parts, about 30% from agricultural related sales, and 20% from oilfield maintenance parts.
Escobedo said that another big part of the success is the staff he has had through the years. One of those employees is now taking a bigger role in the business, as Dustin Hooper takes control. Hooper was an employee at Hitchcocks from 1996 and 2006. "I learned so much from working there. It was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to buying the business." Another factor of the transaction is the fact that he and the current owner are good friends. "We are going in as friends, and that makes this so much better," said Hooper.
According to Escobedo, the process will be a gradual one, with Escobedo remaining with the store in a limited capacity for a couple of years.
This was not Hooper's first experience with Hitchcock. "I used to raise animals for the fair, and they had a farm outside of town. He let me keep my animals out there, as long as I fed the horses and cows out there," Hooper said. "He was a great man, and I am proud and thankful for this opportunity."
Along with Escobedo and Hooper, the store is run by a David Velez, Louis Felix and Randy Roque. "We have had so many great people through the years working here, and each one of them has helped make this place such a special one to work at."
Hitchcock's will be holding a customer appreciation event sometime this year, celebrating the centennial with the community. "We want to thank the community for their years of support and look forward to many more years."