30 August 2022

Improve Community Safety and Wellbeing in Takoma Park

Alexander Hadden
Takoma Park, MD 20912

August 29, 2022

Tom Greco, CEO
Advance Auto Parts
5008 Airport Road
Roanoke, VA 24012

Dear Mr. Greco,

We are writing to ask for your help with improving the operating environment of the Advance Auto Parts retail location at 6300 New Hampshire Avenue, Takoma Park, MD 20912. The site is currently a hazard to the daily safety and wellbeing of our community, your employees and your customers, and is putting them all at risk. We believe your thoughtful leadership on improving the operating issues at the site can positively impact your customers, employees and the broader community, as well as uphold the values of your company.

On July 16, 2022, a 27-year-old mobile mechanic operating his business at the referenced Advance Auto Parts parking lot was shot and killed. In 2018, there was a police chase, gunfight and shooting that originated at your site. The July 2022 homicide is just the most recent in a long line of tragic and needless criminal activities that occur due to your team’s poor management of the site, including vehicular hit-and-run, assaults, and robbery. These activities are the result of your company permitting an open-air mechanics’ market to formalize and operate in the parking lot every day at all hours. On weekends there are often dozens of mechanics and multiple food venders. The open-air mechanics’ market creates a cascade of negative externalities on site and in the community, including the illegal dumping of toxic chemicals and used auto parts, littering, traffic violations, noise and sanitation issues. The mechanics themselves are not safe here. The tragedy of all of this is that it does not need to occur.

In your personal remarks in the Advance Auto Parts 2020 Corporate Sustainability and Social Report you said “our first priority was the health, safety and wellbeing of our team members and customers. We put every decision we made through this lens.” We can assure you that Advance Auto Parts’ practices in our community fail to meet this principle. By all accounts, your staff appears overwhelmed and scared, lacking the resources, training and leadership to manage this public safety issue successfully. Many of us in the community who have been customers of your business no longer feel that your retail environment is safe.

The persistent and unaddressed violence at Advance Auto Parts represents a significant failure for your sustainability mission, “Advancing a World in Motion,” as well as your diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) program. You personally stated that Advance Auto Parts’ long-term vision is “driving the performance of our company while we simultaneously protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our people, increase diverse representation, reduce our environmental impact and give back to the communities in which we live and serve. It’s about how we support and care for one another while ensuring we leave our company and the world in a better place for future generations.” Your company’s failure to perform this mission is compounded by the reality that the most adversely affected people at your store are generally the most vulnerable among us, almost entirely comprised of racially, economically, or culturally marginalized groups.

For these reasons, we bring this issue to your attention in the spirit of your company’s own stated “cultural beliefs” from your 2020 Corporate Sustainability and Social Report:

  • “Speak up: I listen to seek and provide candid, informed feedback to improve performance.”<br />
  • “Be accountable: I own challenges and overcome obstacles to -     achieve team and personal goals.”<br />
  • “Take action: I act with urgency because speed matters.”<br />

We are asking you personally, Mr. Greco, to be a champion for our community, your customers and employees in Takoma Park. Your successful leadership last year led to net sales of $11 billion and a company record $1 billion in cash to shareholders. We understand this success means that your consolidated business can survive shocks and risks to total shareholder return, even if in Takoma Park you are (i) losing neighborhood customers, (ii) have high staff turnover, and (iii) experience business interruptions, all of which adversely impact your sales, profitability and the lives of your customers and team members. However, we believe your company has the resources and the cultural values to successfully take on this issue. We have three specific requests for you:

1) We want to hear from you personally that this issue is a priority for Advance Auto Parts’ executive team and shareholders. Your comments in the 2021 Annual Report said it best, that to reform your company’s previous culture of missing objectives it required “far more ownership and accountability of results at all levels of the company.” For years, members of our community have tried their best to affect change at the store and at the regional-level, to no avail, thus necessitating the involvement of executive leadership.

2) We want a member of your sustainability and/or executive team participating in community meetings on this issue. Our Mayor, Councilmember, local affected residents, local community association, the site property owner, and law enforcement from three jurisdictions have recently held community consultations on this issue and are eager to open a line of communication with your leadership directly. Simply put, your company should not be missing from future conversations.

3) We would like you to consider a proposal to limit the usable surface area of the parking lot to a size appropriate for your retail and fleet businesses. The site you lease is over two acres and has a very large parking lot that once served a grocery store. By comparison, your competitor up the street has about two dozen parking spaces along the commercial road frontage. By restricting access in the parking lot, your retail location will preserve parking for its core business and no longer burden staff with management of the sprawling, ungoverned lot.

We welcome additional proposals and actions from yourself and your team. You understand your business operations well, including the risks of not addressing this issue. As the disclosures in your 2021 Annual Report acknowledge, “our reputation is critical to our continued success… If we fail to maintain high standards for, or receive negative publicity (whether through social media or traditional media channels) relating to, product safety and quality, as well as our integrity and reputation, we could lose customers to our competition.” We truly believe we have a shared interest in the success and improvements of your retail location.

Thank you for taking a moment to consider this letter during what is a uniquely challenging period to operate a national business. Surely, addressing this issue will be difficult. We know that our community cannot do it without your support. However, as you suggested yourself in the 2020 Sustainability and Social Report, perhaps Nelson Mandela said it best, “It always seems impossible until it is done.”

Alexander Hadden

(646) 339-7940

- Dena LaMar, Vice President, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Advance Auto Parts
- Pinecrest Community Association, Takoma Park, MD
- Kate Stewart, Mayor Takoma Park, MD
- Kacey Kostiuk, Councilmember, Takoma Park, MD
- Antonio DuVaul, Chief, Takoma Park Police Department
- Harvey Maisel, Maisel Development Corp, Silver Spring, MD
- Marc Elrich, County Executive, Montgomery County
- Hans Riemer, Councilmember At-large, Montgomery County
- Tom Huck, Councilmember, Montgomery County
- Lorig Charkoudian, Maryland House Delegate District 20
- Janeese Lewis George, Councilmember, Ward 4, Washington, DC
- Alison Brooks, Advisory Neighborhood Commission, 4B08, Washington, DC
- Geoff Bromaghim, Advisory Neighborhood Commission, 4B07, Washington, DC
- James Keleti, Major, Hyattsville Division 1 Commander, Prince George's County Police Department, Hyattsville, MD
- John Terry Jr, Captain, Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, DC
- Vanguard Group Inc.
- BlackRock Inc.
- Barrow Hanley Mewhinney & Strauss LLC
- Clearbridge Investments LLC
- State Street Corp
- JPMorgan Chase & Co.
- American Century Companies Inc.
- Champlain Investment Partners
- Artisan Partners Limited
- Millennium Management LLC
- Geode Capital Management
8 verified
  1. Sarah T Bohl, stay-at-home mom and social science research consultant, Takoma Park
  2. Jenee Weeda, Takoma Park, MD
  3. Ben Bellows, Chief Business Officer, Nivi Inc., Takoma Park
  4. Jessica Graber, Takoma Park, MD
  5. Emily England, Takoma park
  6. Brian Schwartz, Takoma Park
  7. Paul Weeda, Consultant, Takoma Park
  8. Alexander Hadden, Takoma Park, MD
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