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Thomas R. Thibert


1936 - 2019
Thomas R. Thibert Obituary
(News story) Thomas R. Thibert, whose drive and knowledge of the automotive industry propelled him to the top ranks of AP Parts, the Toledo-based muffler maker once part of a Fortune 500 conglomerate, died Monday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. He was 83.

He was in ill health for several years, his wife, Gwenn Thibert, said.

Mr. Thibert of Perrysburg Township retired in 1994 from the helm of the former AP Parts Co., which traced its origins to 1927 and John Goerlich, regarded as a pioneer in the replacement muffler industry.

He remained on the board of Tuffy, the tire and auto service chain that started as a muffler replacement business. AP Parts owned Tuffy from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s.

Mr. Thibert was instrumental in moving Tuffy headquarters from Saginaw, Mich., to the Toledo area, where it remains, said Roger Hill, Tuffy president and chief executive. He also changed procedures to aid franchisees.

"Tom was always a forward-thinking kind of pioneer," Mr. Hill said. "He knew the business inside and out."

About 25 years ago, Mr. Hill accompanied Mr. Thibert to the annual trade show in Las Vegas of aftermarket automotive parts and products attended by tens of thousands.

In the exhibit hall, going booth to booth, "We couldn't walk 10 feet down the aisle that he didn't know somebody," Mr. Hill said. "He was very well regarded. He was analytical and a good problem solver."

A 1959 marketing graduate of Ohio University, Mr. Thibert started at AP Parts in 1964 as an assistant advertising manager. A decade later, after a series of promotions, Mr. Thibert was promoted to a newly created position of vice president of merchandising. AP Parts then was a part of Questor Corp., a conglomerate that at one time owned the Spalding sporting goods company and Tinker Toy.

His focus at the top of AP Parts, starting in the late 1980s, included its marketing division, with a focus on sales in North America and Latin America.

"He had a combination of uncanny energy and charisma," his son Tim said. "He had the kind of personality. When he walked in the room, he was the electric source. He was the energy in the room.

"Dad was an automotive guy through and through," his son said. "He could speak the language, but he was a connector and a visionary. He would assemble really good teams, and he would count on their expertise."

He had mentors as well, among them Paul Putman, who was AP Parts and Questor chairman - and son-in-law of Mr. Goerlich, the muffler pioneer.

Mr. Thibert was a former leader of industry associations. He also served on the boards of Riverside Hospital and Mercy Health Partners.

"He thought it was a privilege to be on those boards," his wife said.

His daughter, Terri Johnson, said: "He always had to be part of something, doing something, fixing something."

He was a former member of St. Rose Church in Perrysburg, where he was a parish leader.

He was born April 16, 1936, to Dolores and Remy Thibert and grew up in East Toledo. He was a 1954 graduate of Central Catholic High School, where he played football. He was selected for the Toledo Times' 1953 all-city football team.

He was a member of Belmont Country Club and Ottawa Skeet Club.

Surviving are his wife, Gwenn Eichelberger, whom he married May 6, 1961; sons, Tim and Todd Thibert; daughter, Terri Johnson; brothers, Jim and Bob Thibert; nine grandchildren, and a great-grandson.

Visitation will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday at St. John XXIII Church, Perrysburg, with funeral services beginning at 10:30 a.m. He was a member of the parish.

Arrangements are by Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg.

The family suggests tributes to the church or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

This is a news story by Mark Zaborney. Contact him at [email protected] or 419-724-6182.
Published in The Blade on Nov. 6, 2019
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