Tech talent, incentives lure Advance headquarters to Raleigh

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Advance Auto Parts was Roanokeā€™s only Fortune 500 company.
Photo by Don Petersen

After calling Roanoke home for 86 years, Advance Auto Parts is moving its headquarters to Raleigh, N.C.

Moving may be too strong a word. Company spokesman Darryl Carr says the change will mean virtually nothing to the 650 people working in the former Crossroads Shopping Center, Advance’s headquarters in Roanoke.

“There will be no layoffs or job shifts, and the Roanoke office is not closing,” Carr says. “In fact, we just signed a multiyear lease renewal for the Roanoke office.”

Advance began in 1932 when Arthur Taubman purchased Advance Stores Co., the owner of two stores in Roanoke and one in Lynchburg. Only three blocks separated the Roanoke stores, so Taubman quickly closed one of them.

From that beginning Advance evolved into a major auto parts retailer. It opened its 100th store in 1987. Nine years later, the company opened more than 100 stores in a year.

Advance now has nearly 5,000 company-operated stores, another 1,500 associated outlets and more than 71,000 employees. The company’s sales last year totaled nearly $9.4 billion.

Advance was Roanoke’s only Fortune 500 company. It now will be the only Raleigh-based company on the list.

Most of  Advance’s executives —  and a lot of other employees, including those in technology and marketing wings — have been based in Raleigh since 2014 when the company acquired General Parts International.

That situation has led some people to suggest Advance’s headquarters haven’t really been in Roanoke for some time.

But the new designation will matter. According to a news release from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, Advance will add as many as 435 jobs in the Raleigh area over five years. In turn, North Carolina has promised Advance a $10 million incentive package.

Carr calls the incentives “an important factor in the decision-making process.” Virginia, he says, “put forth a competitive offer,” but the company chose North Carolina because of the incentives and “a deep bench of information technology and software development talent that exists in North Carolina’s [Research] Triangle.”

Moving Advance forward, Carr says, “will require enhancing skills and building new capabilities in the areas of technology, digital marketing and eCommerce to support our plans to become a technology and omnichannel leader.”

Company leaders feel Advance can do that best, Carr says, “with the available talent pool in North Carolina and its combined incentives package.”

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