Obituary: Bill Guinard, Olympus Imported Auto Parts President

Bill Guinard, president of Alexandria, VA-based Olympus Imported Auto Parts, died Feb. 25. He was 60 and had cancer.

Guinard started with Olympus in 1979 as a parts driver and rose to the head of the company. By 2007, he had earned a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Auto International Association (now known as the Import Vehicle Community) for his efforts to develop the import vehicle aftermarket.

“Bill was my right-hand man and indispensable to me at Olympus for more than 30 years,” retired President and CEO Michael Brown said.

Most of Guinard’s time at Olympus was spent as a vice president and head of purchasing and information technology. He left for a couple of years in the 1980s for an IT position with EAP/Hansa.

Guinard was promoted to president of Olympus when Brown retired last February.

A subsidiary of GPC since 2016, Olympus operates online and through a chain of retail stores in Virginia.

Guinard consistently sought out the very best manufacturers to acquire parts for Olympus, Brown said. He hunted for OE manufacturers and was among the first in the United States to establish relationships with such industry-leading companies as Denso, Akebono and KYB for aftermarket distribution, according to Brown.

“It was through Bill’s creative and innovative urging that the company Nitoma developed and was first to market with timing belt kits for Japanese applications,” Brown said. “Shortly thereafter, the product line exploded in popularity throughout the country.”

He regularly offered Olympus’ suppliers ideas for enhancing their product offerings and their companies, Brown added.

Warren Morley, national sales director for CRP Industries, said he never spoke to Guinard without learning something new about the industry, business, his company or even himself.

“Besides being the consummate parts guy who understood business and saw the big picture, Bill was someone who was always teaching, and I’m not sure he even knew that,” Morley said.

Guinard was “a true gentleman,” Steve Bearden, owner of H.B. International Marketing Services, said.

“He would always approach a supplier as a partner,” Bearden said. “As a result, his suppliers went the extra mile to support Bill and Olympus, and, of course, the outcome was many years of success.  I was one of those suppliers who always looked forward to visiting Bill — not only for the business I did with him — but also the sage advice he always gave me relative to business and life in general.”

Survivors include Guinard’s wife of 32 years, Judy.

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