The store at 2122 Northside Drive East, which was previously Mallard Auto Parts, is now the fourth store in the Brunswick-founded Langford Auto Parts chain owned by members of the Lightfoot family. But it’s still part of the Carquest parts distribution network.
Brothers Brad and Brandon Lightfoot, who bought the Statesboro store in November, grew up working with their parents, Ed and Susan Lightfoot, at the original Langford Auto Parts in Brunswick. Ed Lightfoot had gone to work for the previous Langford owners in 1968 and was offered ownership of the company in the late 1980s, eventually becoming sole owner in the early 2000s, according to a press release provided via Davis Marketing Company.
Ed and Susan Lightfoot, along Brad and Brandon, opened a store in Kingsland in 2007, and the brothers, still in partnership with their parents, opened the third store, in Waycross, in 2014.
The Statesboro store is the first to be owned exclusively by the second generation of Lightfoots in the auto parts business, Brandon and Brad. But they already operate the other three stores and are working on buying them from their parents, said Brad Lightfoot, who is 37. Brandon just turned 36 but has been in the business a little longer, 18 years, having gone to work for their father straight out of high school.
Before following his family’s calling, Brad played golf for about three years. He worked as a club pro on a course at Sea Island.
“I got out of the golf business when my dad needed some help,” he said. “He begged me to come help him for two weeks and I wouldn’t. So, finally I came to help him – for two weeks.”
Naturally, his two weeks in the family business continue, with his enthusiastic buy-in, 16 years later.
Liked the market
All of the family’s parts stores are Carquest dealerships, and the long-established Statesboro store, already a Carquest location, was a natural addition, according to Brad, the one Lightfoot interviewed for this story.
“We knew that it was available and we really liked the market up here,” he said. “It was kind of in our wheelhouse, if you will, a lot of industrial and ag, a lot of cars on the road, a lot of construction. So that’s kind of what we do – other than just auto parts, we sell a lot of hydraulic hoses and things like paint – and we really like the market.”
Brad and Brandon Lightfoot both reside in Brunswick and are taking turns driving to Statesboro, staying in motels while working at the store a few days each in rotation. But they plan to add another full-time counter person and entrust the Statesboro staff with the store. They will still come here, but less often, he said.
A major asset in that, Lightfoot said, is Randy Purvis, the one employee still at the store who worked for its original owner, Donnie Mallard.
Mallard had started the business in Brooklet before he moved it to Statesboro around 1984, Purvis said. The first Statesboro location was on Zetterower Avenue, but the store that was Mallard Auto Parts has been in business at the current Northside Drive location for about 20 years, according to Purvis, who was hired by Mallard in 1986.
Purvis has a wealth of knowledge, both of the community and the parts business, his new employer observed.
“He’s the heart of the business, has always been here, everybody knows him,” Lightfoot said.
Mallard retired and sold the business about three years ago. The Lightfoots actually bought it from some interim owners, who were from South Carolina.
The store currently employs six people. Having good employees is essential for keeping customers, the new owners emphasized in their press release.
“Everybody has parts, we have service,” Lightfoot said there. “We may have a nationally recognized name on the front of our building, but we are a true hometown parts store with local smiling faces behind the counter. We’re proud to serve our community.”