The CarMax Timeline

1990 and 1991

  • Circuit City executives Rick Sharp (CEO) and Austin Ligon (Vice President of Corporate Planning) spearhead an effort to identify a new retail opportunity to extend Circuit City's growth into the next decade. They look for a large retail category with no significant national competitors and unmet consumer needs. Extensive research shows an excellent opportunity exists in automotive retailing, especially in used cars. In December 1991, the Circuit City board commits $50 million to fund development of the concept and several prototype stores.

1992

  • We test the idea with a broad range of focus groups, where consumers tell us what they don't like about car shopping. The CarMax concept is refined and a business plan is developed; and Austin charges CarMax with revolutionizing the way America buys cars.

1993

  • September: We open our first auto superstore in Richmond, Virginia, with an inventory of 500 used vehicles. Our first vehicle sold is a used 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The initial consumer reaction to CarMax reinforces our belief that we can add significant value to the automotive shopping experience.

1994

  • November: We open our second superstore in Raleigh, North Carolina.

1995

  • We open our third and fourth superstores in Atlanta, Georgia.

1996

  • June: We announce a five-year rollout plan, under which we expect to be operating 80 to 90 superstores in 45 of the nation's top 50 advertising markets by calendar year 2001. The plan calls for the opening of 15 to 20 superstores per year. The plan is made more ambitious by the entry of AutoNation into the used car auto superstore arena.
  • October: We launch carmax.com®. The website includes a proprietary vehicle search feature with which consumers can view information on price, make, model, mileage, and features for CarMax's entire inventory.

1997

  • January: Circuit City shareholders approve a plan to create a common stock series that will separately track the performance of the CarMax automotive retailing business.
  • February: Circuit City completes the initial public offering of CarMax Group common stock, selling approximately 22 million shares at $20 per share. Net proceeds of $413 million repays indebtedness to Circuit City that was incurred to finance CarMax's growth.

1999

  • February: Total sales for the fiscal year top $1 billion. We announce that we are suspending new store development in order to focus on improving store performance and profitability. After quadrupling our store base in two years, we need to concentrate instead on business improvement.
  • December: After incurring significant losses, AutoNation announces its exit from the used car superstore business, including the immediate closure of 23 superstores.

2000

  • February: We record our first annual profit, reporting net earnings of $1.1 million.

2001

  • January: As a result of a significant improvement in our sales and earnings, we announce plans to restart store expansion. With plans to grow our store base by 15% to 20% each year, we expect to double sales to approximately $5 billion over the next five years.
  • July: Circuit City completes a secondary offering of 9.5 million shares of CarMax Group common stock at $15.50 per share. Net proceeds of $140 million are allocated to Circuit City.

2002

  • January: We are named the top performing NYSE stock for 2001, as our stock price climbs nearly 470% during the year.
  • February: Circuit City announces its intent to separate the CarMax business from Circuit City in a tax-free split-off.
  • October: We complete our tax-free separation from Circuit City, becoming an independent, separately traded public company.

2003

  • July: We celebrate the sale of our one millionth used car.
  • December: We create The CarMax Foundation®, which contributes more than $1 million each year to nonprofit organizations. The Foundation seeks to promote automobile passenger safety and support the communities in which CarMax associates live and work.

2004

  • April: We debut on FORTUNE® magazine's FORTUNE® 500 list at No. 435.

2005

  • January: We are named by FORTUNE® magazine as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For."
  • February: Total sales for our fiscal year top $5 billion. We reach this target level one year earlier than the goal we set for ourselves in 2001.
  • June: We announce a new sales goal of $10 billion to $12 billion by fiscal year 2010.
  • October: We complete construction of our new home office in Richmond, Virginia. The new building wins several awards for its environmentally friendly design and construction.

2006

  • January: For the second consecutive year, we are named one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by FORTUNE® magazine.
  • February: We are named the nation's "Most Admired" auto retail/service company in a FORTUNE® industry survey.
  • June: Founding CEO Austin Ligon retires. Tom Folliard, who previously was Executive Vice President, Store Operations, succeeds him.
  • September: Our wholesale auction team reaches the one million car milestone for vehicles sold through our in-store wholesale auctions.
  • December: We open our smallest store, in Charlottesville, Virginia. This store will provide information on potential future growth opportunities in other small markets.

2007

  • January: For the third consecutive year, we are named one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by FORTUNE® magazine. We achieved a no. 88 ranking, advancing from no. 93 in the prior year.
  • January: We celebrate the sale of our two millionth used vehicle.
  • June: Rick Sharp retires as chairman of the board, succeeded by long-time board member Bill Tiefel, retired vice chairman of Marriott International and chairman emeritus of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

2008

  • January: For the fourth consecutive year, we are named one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by FORTUNE® magazine. We achieved a no. 46 ranking, advancing from no. 88 in the prior year.
  • February: We are named to Training magazine's Top 125, one of only 5 newly named companies to achieve a top 50 ranking.
  • February: We are named the nation's "Most Admired" auto retail/service company for a second time, in a FORTUNE® industry survey.
  • March: We win the Better Business Bureau's International Torch Award for Marketplace Excellence in 2008. As a used car retailer, we're proud to be one of only two companies in North America to receive the BBB's highest honor in recognition of ethical business practices.
  • April: We gain recognition for workplace excellence from two respected organizations, receiving the 2008 Gallup Great Workplace Award and earning a spot on the 2008 Honor Roll from The Center for Companies that Care.
  • December: As a result of an extremely weak economic and sales environment, we announce our decision to temporarily suspend store growth and cancel all store openings until further notice. This move significantly reduces our capital needs and helps us preserve liquidity. Construction on our 100th store, our last planned opening before suspending growth, continued.

2009

  • January: For the fifth consecutive year, we are named one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by FORTUNE® magazine. We achieved a no. 31 ranking, advancing from no. 46 in the prior year.
  • 100th StoreFebruary: Our 100th Store Celebration. In honor of the opening of our 100th store, we donated 100 sets of books to reading programs across the country through Reading Is Fundamental.
  • February: For the second year in a row, we are named to Training magazine's Top 125, with a No. 57 ranking.
  • March: We receive the 2009 Gallup Great Workplace Award, our second consecutive year being recognized by this organization.

2010

  • January: For the sixth consecutive year, we are named one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by FORTUNE® magazine.
  • February: For the third straight year, we are named to Training magazine's Top 125, coming in at No. 26.
  • March: We celebrate the sale of our three millionth used vehicle.
  • April: We announce our resumption of store growth, with a plan to open three used car superstores in fiscal year 2011, between three and five superstores in fiscal year 2012, and between five and ten superstores in fiscal year 2013.
  • June: CarMax is added to the S&P 500 Index.
  • December: We launch our carmax.com mobile website, designed to improve the experience of customers accessing our site from web-enabled phones.

2011

  • January: For the seventh consecutive year, we are named one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by FORTUNE® magazine.
  • February: For the fourth straight year, we are named to Training magazine's Top 125, with a No. 32 ranking.
  • March: We launch the CarMax EasyShop® test in two markets, giving customers a fast and flexible online alternative for some of the most time-consuming aspects of buying a car.
  • April: We celebrate the sale of our two millionth vehicle through our on-site wholesale auctions.
  • October: The CarMax Foundation surpasses the $10 million milestone in charitable grants.
  • December: We announce plans to open 10 stores in fiscal year 2013 and between 10 and 15 stores annually in fiscal year 2014 through fiscal year 2016.

2012

  • January: For the eighth consecutive year, we are named one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by FORTUNE® magazine.
  • February: For the fifth straight year, we are named to Training magazine's Top 125, coming in at No. 28.
  • February: Total sales for the fiscal year top $10 billion.

2013

  • January: For the ninth consecutive year, we are named one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by FORTUNE® magazine.

2014

  • January: For the tenth consecutive year, we are named one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by FORTUNE® magazine.

"CarMax was founded on the fundamental principle of integrity, reflected in the way we serve our customers, treat each other and deliver our products."

Tom Folliard
CEO of CarMax

"In your life, you have a few 'eureka' moments where you say, 'That could be a really big idea!'"

Austin Ligon
Former President and CEO

"If you really love retail, you are excited about any opportunity that allows you to serve the customer better, and allows you the opportunity to make a change, and do something better than anybody else does it."

Laura Donahue
Vice President of Advertising

"The main point of the business was to go out into the largest retail segment in the United States and change it. It became a mission: more than just a job, and more than just building a company."

Richard Smith
Chief Information Officer

4 million and counting

With more than 4 million cars sold and over 100 locations across the country, we’re changing the way America buys cars. Find out why so many people choose CarMax.