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Matlock Tire runs over area competition


At first glance, Jimmy Matlock’s office at 1301 Highway 321 in Lenoir City resembles a hat store more than the office of a prominent businessman.

More than a hundred baseball-style caps hang on the sheetrock walls, a scrapbook of the places Matlock has been over the years.

“Each one is different and each one has its own story,” he said.

That statement also sums up the philosophy with which Matlock, owner of Matlock Tire Service and Auto Repair with a Farragut location on Kingston Pike, treats his customers.

“We try to treat people in the best sense ever,” Matlock said. “We tell people we want to make your auto repair experience as easy as possible.”

Started by his father, Joe Matlock, in 1953, Matlock Tire Service and Auto Repair has grown to four stores in four counties.

“We try to never forget we are locally owned and operated,” he said.

Matlock said his four stores — Maryville, Farragut, Lenoir City and Athens — each have a different marketing scheme that plays to the local demographics of each store.

“Unfortunately, our industry got a bad reputation over the years as a guy would go into a dirty store and it would have a coffee table piled high with old magazines and he would sit and wait for his car to be taken care of,” he said. “New studies have shown that women are now the predominant ones who take their vehicles in for service. We try to be on the front end of the curve since studies show more decisions being made by female customers than ever before.”

Matlock said with that in mind, he patterns his stores toward customer comfort. In the Lenoir City store, for example, the restrooms are designed with accessories to make the facility more “home-like.”

“One of the first things I check when I go into a store is its restroom,” he said.

The Farragut store has an area for children with play tables and other items with which young shoppers can entertain themselves. The Lenoir City location has a children’s area equipped with a large beanbag, a few toys and a couple of old desks rescued from a school Matlock attended as a child.

“We have rocking chairs out front and we have wireless Internet available,” he said. “The idea is that people can go anywhere and get this thing done. We want them to have a level of service here that, if it takes a little longer than expected, they won’t mind waiting.”

Matlock said his company deals with tire repair, replacement and rotation, but it also deals with automobile repair as well.

“The tire portion of the business is growing, but not at the level of the auto repair side of the business,” he said.

Matlock said one of the reasons for the auto repair growth is the increasingly complex and computerized manner in which vehicles are being created.

“Most people are recognizing that manufacturers are making things more complicated,” he said. “The days of people being able to repair their own vehicle are almost gone.”

Another factor in the auto repair growth is time. Matlock said few people have the spare time to care for their vehicles themselves.

“We’ve kind of found our niche in that marketplace,” he said.

How successful is his business philosophy? Matlock said his company did more than $7 million in sales last year.

“We have sixty employees,” he said. “Some of them have been with us for about twenty years.”

When he isn’t busy with his business, Matlock has been dabbling in the political world. He faces an opponent in November for the 21st District State House seat.

For more information on tires or auto repair, call 865-986-6553.

 

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